Where is best to be a single woman?

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I’m supposed to do some work, but my thoughts are jumping around the world. The weather outside is frightful: after an Easter week-end with temperatures of 10 C and over, today we’re close to 0, it’s snowing and the wind is pushing the window toward me. And I’m thinking of a woman. Maybe more..

The idea is not to write about a specific person in particular – rather a composite, much like the previous article – but if you find yourself in it, please let me know.

Before boring you with serious talk, let me start with the corrected Google translation of yet another song from my childhood. I used to listen to it on a vinyl, way before CDs and DVDs, together with a bunch of other jazzy / rock / blues ditties.

The lyrics are superb and so is the music, if it’s evening and you already had a glass of good wine or lazy bourbon.

A single girl by Alexandru Andries

She is now a single girl and does not know how to live like this:
Her boyfriend disappeared- the tall guy who kept waiting for her,
He said "Good evening," he said, "c ya soon" and then evaporated
And she, on the street, does not want another guy on her arm...

She is now a single girl, week-end mornings she lays in bed and reads,
Half a day she makes phone calls, but her own phone does not ring
And the silence in the room increases …
She could go to the movies, she could call him herself 
But she knows with certainty from everyone that girls don’t...
They do not do that!

The guys around her are beautiful because they suddenly become fragile:
Under velvet armor and cotton shirts
Clumsy soldiers are hiding...
They would like to fight the loneliness
Of her almond-shaped eyes,
But without a sword, and especially without shield,
How can they prevail?

She is now a single girl in a bored universe,
And this lesson, so hard, is just that lesson she missed ...
She doesn’t know what to do with her ​​hands,
With her way-too-long ​​legs
In the bed where there’s nobody toward who
To extend your hand,
To extend your hand, and reach! ...

Come, come,
You have beautiful eyes and
You're truly beautiful,
Come, come, 
You will not stay much longer home alone ...

She is now a single girl:
Money, gather it from your pocket,
Run and buy a Chevrolet
Or at least something similar,

Go on, run! ...

I remember long, long time ago, when I had just arrived in Canada, watching a documentary about how after WW2, Canada had become a major employer of women, drawing single women from Europe in search of freedom. One major employer was Bell Canada who needed women phone operators for its expanding network. I was actually working on a contract for Bell in 1998, when the idea to phase out human operators first surfaced and slowly but sure implemented, though strongly opposed by various factions.

Census data captures the full carnage of those years.

According to census data, women held about 80% of the jobs in this occupation [telephone operators] in 2006, a percentage that has been declining sharply since 1991 (89%). In 2005 part-time work was more common than for all occupations (40% vs 21%). In 2006 self-employment was practically non-existent in this occupation (less than 2% of jobs). Work hours include evenings and the weekend. The work is generally repetitive, sedentary and highly controlled, often with limited response time. The annual employment income ($28,925) shown in the "Characteristics" section of the "Statistics" applies only to the 36% of people in this occupation who worked full time and full-year in 2005. The average employment income for those who did not work full time and full-year was $11,958 in 2005. Because Bell Canada has transferred the telephone services for 411, teleconferencing and the Relay service for people with hearing impairments to Nordia in 1999 and 2000, the annual employment income increased only by 14% between 1990 and 2005, while it increased by 42% for all occupations.

Enough with that dying occupation, and let’s move on to what Canada is known for today. Less than a year ago, “a global poll of experts” found Canada to be the best place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies (G20).

The hierarchy of this TrustLaw (Thomson Reuters Foundation) survey is based on polling 370 gender specialists, much like the Transparency International corruption survey.
  1. Canada
  2. Germany
  3. Britain
  4. Australia
  5. France
  6. United States
  7. Japan
  8. Italy
  9. Argentina
  10. South Korea
  11. Brazil
  12. Turkey
  13. Russia
  14. China
  15. Mexico
  16. South Africa
  17. Indonesia
  18. Saudi Arabia
  19. India
A more complex Index published by U.N., GII, paints a slightly different picture [2011 PDF] (ts-g20) with Canada alternatively on the 7th or 6th place.

The Gender Inequality Index (GII), which looks at reproductive health, the labour market and empowerment of women through education and politics, named the same three countries as the worst places for women, although Saudi Arabia ranked the absolute worst in the GII, followed by India. The GII, however, does not include gender-based violence or other elements such as the fact that many women carry additional burdens of caregiving and housekeeping. When it came to what country was best, the expert perception did not match U.N. data. The GII ranked Germany, France and South Korea as the top three countries, in that order. Canada came seventh and the United States was in tenth place.

A few publications, such as the Globe and Mail, Foreign Policy as well as the Independent have looked at various stats (including WEF 2011 and 2012, where Canada comes 21st out of 135 countries), coming up with some possibly surprising facts.
  • Philippines is 8th on the WEF’s list, being first in “educational attainment” and “health and survival” even though they’re not doing so great in terms of abortion and contraception [World Bank]
  • 71% of Latvia’s university grads are women [UN] and so are 50% of its Supreme Court judges as well as 45% of those in R&D. Still, there is .8:1 income inequality [WB]
  • Cuba was 20th in WEF’s index, and first in Latin America and / or Caribbean, with 60% of technical workforce being female and 43% of parliamentarians (see also Oxfam).
  • Egypt – smallest gender gap, at 82 cents to the dollar (in Canada, 35th, only 73 cents)
  • Rwanda – most female politicians, with 45 of the 80 seats in Parliament; in Canada, 45th, men outnumber females 3:1
  • Japan – women live longest, 87:79.2 yrs; in Canada it’s 82.8:75
  • China – most female billionaires due to communism
  • Denmark – least unpaid work, only 50 min - 5h+ in India
  • Burundi – 92% of women have paid work, compared to 88% of men; Canada is 20th
  • Jamaica – most women in positions of power 59% vs 41%; Canada is 31st, with 36% to 64%
  • Estonia – significant incentives for female engineers, hence 2:1 or 68%; in Canada, 57%
  • Estonia – safest to have a baby (lowest maternal mortality: 2 in 100000 vs 12 in 100000 in Canada.
  • Germany – best to stay at home with kids (14 weeks off at 100% of wages; parental allowance of 67% of wages for 14 months, both parents 3 yrs of parental leave); Canada – 52 wks of maternity leave, EI
  • USA – most female Nobel prize winners; Canada 0
  • Georgia – lowest rate of domestic violence, with a lifetime prevalence of abuse of 5%; Canada 2nd, with 7%
  • French Polynesia – women marry at 33; Canada – 29
  • Norway – top country to be a single mother, only 4.1% children of single-parent families were deprived of quality of life measures; the last is Romania

How about safe travel only? Lonely Planet has a fresh survey for 2013, where Canada ranks 4th, after Japan, Iceland and New Zealand, respectively.

There you have it. What measure is most important to you?

Sources / More info: andries, 3o, sg-gc, tl-g20, ts-g20, wiki-gii, Ind-mar8, gm-gg, fp-5pl, lp-top2013

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