Today marks International Women’s Day. Established early years of the twentieth century, International Women’s Day is observed on March 8 every year and is intended to celebrate women’s political, economic, and social achievements—and often to draw attention to ongoing gender inequality.
Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released a new report on the distribution of household labor in is 34 member states. The report uses time use surveys to determine the amount of household labor (measured in minutes) performed by men and women in each state. The report notes that women perform the majority of unpaid work in all states, though the disparity between men’s and women’s household labor varies by country.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Scandinavian welfare states—which have a long history of gender equity in politics—have the highest level of gender equity in the distribution of household labor. Men in Norway—the most equal country in the study—perform an average of 180 minutes per day doing housework, while women in Norway perform an average of 210 minutes per day of housework.
Japan has the greatest inequality in the distribution of household labor, with women working an average of 377 minutes per day in the household, compared to just 62 minutes per day performed by men.
To mark International Women’s Day, the OECD has created a website and a quiz highlighting gender equality (or inequality) in countries around the world. It’s an informative quiz and well worth reading.
A woman violates informal Saudi laws prohibiting female driving.
Women in Saudi Arabia have been engaged in an ongoing protest demanding the right to drive be granted. While technically not illegal, women in Saudi Arabia have been subject to arrest and prosecution for attempting to drive. While declining to cite what laws were being violated or what punishments might be doled out, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry spokesperson, Major General Mansour Al-Turki warned women that “All violations will be dealt with—whether demonstrations or women driving. No just on the 26th [a day scheduled for demonstrations]. At all times” At the same time, conservative Saudi religious leaders warned women that driving could damage their ovaries and create health risks and cause children to be born with “clinical problems.” Saudi Arabia maintains very conservative traditions, particularly in the area of women’s rights. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries in gender equality. Saudi Arabia was the only country to earn a score of zero in the area of political empowerment. Saudi law requires all women have a male guardian—usually a father, brother, or husband—who has rights over women’s marriage, travel, education, employment, and other decisions. Women in Saudi Arabia comprise just 17 percent of the country’s workforce, one of the lowest female labor market participation rates in the world. However, some progress is being made in securing equal rights for Saudi women. In 2011, King Abdullah issued a declaration granting women the right to vote and run for local elected office beginning in the 2015 election. But in the economic and social spheres, much work remains to be done.