Bahraini women most empowered in MidEast - study

Gender equality worst in Saudi Arabia, while Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait top list
(AFP/Getty Images)
By Sara Anabtawi
Thu 19 Apr 2012 11:09 AM

Bahraini
women are the most empowered in the Middle East, according to research
published this week, with females in the Gulf state closest to men in terms of
equality.

The
findings of a study, released by payments provider Mastercard, showed that
Saudi Arabian women were the least empowered regionally.

The
index ranked female socio-economic participation in each country based on a
number of criteria including education, employment opportunities and
involvement in government, to come up with a single score out of 100.

Bahrain
topped the list with 69 points, while Saudi Arabia tallied just 36.9.

The
UAE was a close second in the index with 67.5, Qatar third with 67.1, Kuwait
fourth with 63.5 and Oman fifth with 63.4.

Levant
nation Lebanon scored poorly with 51.8.

Treatment of women, particularly
foreign workers, in the country has faced scrutiny in recent weeks after an
Ethiopian domestic helper committed suicide in the wake of a video of her being
physically abused by an employer was broadcast on the internet.

Inequality
between genders in Saudi Arabia is also highly publicised, although the government
here has been taking tentative steps towards reform.

Last year, ruler King
Abdullah said women would be allowed to stand and vote in 2015’s municipal
elections, while authorities have also increased employment opportunities for
women.

Georgette
Tan, group head, communications, Asia Pacific, MEA, Mastercard, said: “Women’s
socio-economic advancement starts at the basic level - from fostering
confidence in girls through education, to giving women opportunities for skills
development and regular employment.”

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