Canada falls 4 spots, now ranked 11th best country for women’s equality, well-being

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Canada dropped four spots this year on a global index that ranks countries based on women’s well-being and equality.

The 2019 Women, Peace and Security Index, developed by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, ranked Canada in the 11th spot behind Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands.

In 2018, Canada ranked seventh on the list.

READ MORE: Canada ranked 3rd best country to live in

While life for women has improved in some 60 countries, researchers found it has deteriorated in Yemen and other war-torn nations.

The researchers looked at 167 countries since 2017 when the first Women, Peace and Security Index was compiled, weighing variables such as access to bank accounts, jobs and security.

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At the bottom were Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Mali and Libya.

“There are important areas of progress. It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Jeni Klugman, managing director of the Georgetown Institute and lead author of the index.

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Gains were strongest in women’s access to financial accounts, either mobile or at conventional banks, in fewer discriminatory laws and through increasing legislative representation.

“A national election can bring about big changes, both positive and negative,” Klugman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We have a number of countries which boosted the share of women in their national legislatures. We also had several countries which went the other way,” she added.

Iceland lost its top spot from 2017 after elections brought a drop in the number of women in parliament.

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READ MORE: Canada set a new record for most elected female MPs, but advocates expected more

The United States inched up to No. 19 from No. 22 two years ago, in part due to 2018 elections when a record number of women were elected to Congress. But Klugman said the United States continues to lag in the area of domestic violence.

The research is intended to inform and inspire action, Klugman said, noting that the factors it weighed are integral to the global development goals adopted unanimously by the United Nations in 2015.

“It’s not like it’s something we invented out of thin air. It’s something which is grounded in those long, hard-negotiated agreements, so we’re holding them to account for that.”

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The U.N. adopted 17 goals, including gender equality and an end to hunger, poverty and other ills, to be achieved by 2030.

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The new research found deterioration in women’s lives was often linked to security, which worsened in almost 50 countries.

As to legal reforms, Moldova moved up 22 places owing to changes in its sexual assault laws.

Saudi Arabia persisted in having the most extensive legal discrimination against women, followed by Yemen, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Syria.

The report said legal discrimination means about 2.7 billion women globally are restricted from working in the same jobs as men.

-With files from Global News

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