Plan UK along with The Royal Commonwealth Society recently released a report on the Best Countries in the Commonwealth to be Born a girl. The top three places went to New Zealand, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
The study used 8 indicators to come up with the rankings
1: Life Expectancy at birth
2: Sheer Survival – Proportion of under-5 year olds that are underweight
3: Education for Life – Expected number of years in school (primary and secondary)
4: Early Pregnancy – Fertility rate of girls aged 15-19 years
5: Studying Hard -Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships taken up in the acdemic years 2006/7, 2007/8 and 2008/9
6: Political Participation
7: A Sporting Chance – Atheletes and Medals at the Delhi Commonwealth Games
8: The Pay Gap – Gender gap in pay
What the Report doesn’t say
1. In Trinidad and Tobago DEATHS from cases of domestic violence have quadrupled over a five-year period from 2004 to 2008, while the amount of cases of domestic violence reported to police have increased by 60 percent. The number of cases of deaths in relation to domestic violence for the years 2004 to 2008 there were 9, 26, 32, 17 and 36 deaths respectively. In terms of the number of cases of domestic violence reported to the police for the same period, the recorded cases numbered 962, 1,291, 1,250, 1,356 and 1,556 respectively.
2. According to data available from the UNODC’s Crime Trends Survey, based on police stats, three of the top ten recorded rape rates in the world are in the Caribbean. All of the island nations from which data was gathered — Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago — experienced a rate of rape above the unweighted average of the 102 countries in the survey. Between 80-90 rapes were reported to the TnT Rape Crisis Society during 2004-2005. The Society also notes the increase in the number of gang rapes. Added to this many rapes go unreported.
3. Trinidad and Tobago still has no national policy on sexual harassment in the workplace.
4. In Dominica, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago girls outnumber boys by a large margin in being awarded Commonwealth Scholarships. However, even though more women are earning higher degrees, women’s earnings are still below mens with ratios of 46% in Trinidad and Tobago and 52% for St. Lucia.
5. In T&T banking and financial serivces sector, 80% of employees at the lower level are female while only 25% of women reach higher managerial levels
6. Women still report being victimized and discriminated against with regard to maternity in the workplace.
7. Maternal Mortality in Trinidad and Tobago (2008) is 55 deaths per 100 000 births. While this figure is far better than over half of the developing world, we can do far better.
So what does this mean for us?
I think its significant that even while women have a more public face – are participating in political life, are excelling educationally and athletically, there are still many serious issues that threaten our lives and well being. Sexist attitudes and discriminatory behaviours are still entrenched in our societies. Violence Against Women is still tolerated and often blamed on women themselves. Our countires need to do better. Each one of us needs to do what we can to stand up against such injustice. We cannot be complacent.