Bahrain was ranked first in a key gender parity index, though men in the country fell slightly behind women in basic education and life satisfaction.
Researchers from the University of Essex in the UK and the University of Missouri in the US, who conducted the study for the new Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI), said they had developed a new way of measuring gender inequality which they claimed was fairer to both men and women.
The scientists insisted that previous methods were biased, focusing on women’s hardships, instead of studying difficulties faced by both genders.
The new index showed it was men and not women who were most disadvantaged on average in the world as opposed to the results of earlier studies.
The indexes for 91 countries showed men there were less equal in their lives than women, while only 43 countries disadvantaged women more.
The countries which came close to “true” gender parity were Bahrain, the UK and the Netherlands.
The US and most European nations were among those where men enjoyed less equality than the opposite gender.
The study focused on three factors – educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction.
“Bahrain’s men and women have an equal life expectancy,” said the study.
“Men fall slightly behind in basic education and life satisfaction.”
It added that Bahrain should formulate policies to promote education at all levels.
“Strengthening policies to ensure all children attend school will likely help to make gains in basic education.”
However, the researchers concluded that women in Bahrain were “better off” than men, as the kingdom scored -0.007938 in the index, with scores below zero indicating that women were better placed than men.
Bahrain scored 0.8205 in the Human Development Index, with values of 0.80 and above indicating very highly developed country.
Other Gulf countries ranked in the index were the UAE (14), Kuwait (47), Saudi Arabia (72) and Qatar (93).
Women were better placed than men in most European countries with the exception of Italy.
“No existing measure of gender inequality fully captures the hardships that are disproportionately experienced by men in many countries and so they do not fully capture the extent to which any specific country is promoting the well-being of all its citizens,” stated University of Essex Department of Psychology Professor Gijsbert Stoet.
“We’re not saying that women in highly developed countries are not experiencing disadvantages in some aspects of their lives.
“What we are saying is that an ideal measure of gender equality is not biased to the disadvantages of either gender.”
Prof Stoet said the Global Gender Gap Index, introduced in 2006, has been one of the most established and well-used measures of national gender inequality, but argued it did not measure issues where men were at a disadvantage.
“We sought to correct the bias towards women’s issues within existing measures and at the same time develop a simple measure that is useful in any country in the world, regardless of their level of economic development,” said University of Missouri Department of Psychological Sciences Professor David Geary.
Another interesting finding of the study was that in the least developed countries, women nearly always fell behind men – largely because they had fewer opportunities for a good education.
However, the picture was more mixed in countries with medium levels of development, with nearly the same number of countries where women fell behind, as countries where men fell behind.
“Men’s disadvantage is largely due to a shorter healthy lifespan,” said the study.
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