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6 Nations Have Legal Equality Among Sexes. US Isn't Even Close

'A typical economy only gives women three-quarters the rights of men'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2019 7:56 AM CST
Women including actress Emma Watson, center right, arrive for a meeting on gender equality with French President Emmanuel Macron at Paris' Elysee Palace on Feb. 19, 2019.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

(Newser) – Women in Europe have it best, legally-speaking. Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden are the only countries that offer legal equality for men and women, according to a report by the World Bank. It looked at 35 indicators related to jobs, marriage, personal safety, property ownership, travel, inheritance, and more, reports Quartz, and those six countries scored a perfect 100. Among the questions considered: "Is a married woman not legally required to obey her husband?" "Is there paid [maternity] leave of at least 14 weeks available to women?" With a score of 83.75, the US sits behind Mexico, Colombia, and Zimbabwe. Axios points out the US doesn't number among the first 60 countries on the list of 187 countries.

The global average is 74.71 out of 100, which means "a typical economy only gives women three-quarters the rights of men in the measured areas," World Bank interim president Kristalina Georgieva writes in an introduction to the report. The silver lining is progress: No countries could boast of legal equality among the sexes a decade ago, when the global average was 70.06, and all but 56 have made strides since then. Sub-saharan Africa passed 71 laws addressing women in the workplace, workplace harassment, and domestic violence over the decade. Just 19 similar reforms were passed in the Middle East and North Africa, where women still have less than half the rights men do, per Reuters. Nine countries are very close to equality: Canada, Finland, and Spain are among those with scores of 97.5. (See the best US states for women.)

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