Canada is best G20 country for females
On one side of the border, a woman can see a doctor for free and is guaranteed paid maternity leave. On the other, most women do not qualify for free health care and one in five under 65 does not have medical insurance.
These differences and others make Canada the best country among the world's wealthiest nations to be a woman and keep the United States out of the top five, according to a poll of experts released on Wednesday by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The United States ranked sixth among the 19 countries in the Group of 20 economies, excluding the European Union economic grouping, in the global survey of 370 recognized gender specialists.
FAILING GRADE FOR SOME
Germany, Britain, Australia and France followed Canada in that order, while India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia polled the worst.
Despite similarities between Canada and the United States in education and economic opportunity, the countries are very different in the area of gender equality, the experts said. Canada's constitution pro-motes and safeguards women's rights while a lack of consensus over reproductive rights in particular erodes them in the United States, experts said.
"Canada leads the pack with its promotion of women's access and opportunities across various sectors of society, including education, economic participation and health care," said Sarah Degnan Kam-bou, president of the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, which took part in the survey.
The poll showed how the lack of universal health care and the struggle over abortion rights in the United States - important issues ahead of the November presidential election - were key to perceptions of women's freedoms in the country, according to the experts polled.
Respondents came from 63 countries on five continents and included aid professionals, academics, health workers, policy-makers, journalists and development specialists with experience in gender issues. Representatives of faith-based organizations were also surveyed.
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