South African men are worse off than women – study

Picture: iStock

Picture: iStock

International study overturns a few cherished assumptions about gender.

It’s always dangerous to challenge someone’s cherished victimhood, but a new academic study does just that: men in South Africa are more disadvantaged than women.

This may upend a few certitudes about gender equality, where women are perceived as the natural victims of discrimination. That certainty has launched a thousand think-tanks and academic studies and embedded itself into every aspect of our law.

Rather than conduct a straightforward headcount of women and men in all aspects of life, this study looks at quality of educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy, and overall life satisfaction – and coverts this into a numerical value, the Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI).

These three factors were identified as the minimal ingredients of a good life. Gender parity does not mean everything in life is rosy, say the authors. Men and women can be equally miserable, which will not show up on the parity rankings.

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Missouri in the US and the University of Essex in the UK. The survey covered 134 nations, representing 6.8 billion people.

The researchers preface their findings by highlighting the limitations of other attempts to rank gender inequality by failing to look at areas where men are disadvantaged, such as healthy lifespan.

Interestingly, Bahrain comes out as the top country in terms of gender equality. Life expectancies between men and women are equal, though men fall slightly behind in terms of basic education and life satisfaction.

Israel is the highest ranking country in which men have it better than women, though the difference is small.

China is another country where men have it better. Chinese girls fall behind considerably in basic education, but men have a lower life expectancy (66 years, compared to 69 years for women).

South Africa deviates from most African and developing countries in that women have it better. This is particularly evident in education, where men fall considerably behind women.

“In this regard, South Africa deviates much from many other sub-Saharan nations (where often girls fall behind). Further, men have a shorter healthy life expectancy (48 years for men and 51 years for women in the 2012-2016 period),” says the study.

How to improve

“Both boys’ and men’s education and health need urgent attention. As for Brazil, a reduction in violence will support this in addition to preventative health care and investment in educational resources.”

Men were found to be more disadvantaged than women in 91 countries while women were more disadvantaged than men in 43. Men are worse off in the US, Russia and most European nations.

The study recommends policies targeting specific gender disparities to improve the overall quality of life.

“It is important to realise that gender equality is not a zero-sum game. Instead, improving the position of one gender will likely positively influence the other gender as well,” say the authors.

“For example, improving educational opportunities for girls in Africa will benefit the families they will later form. Improving men’s health benefits the families in which they live. Ultimately, we all win by increasing gender equality.

“Men’s disadvantages are particularly related to health factors, especially in the developed world. Investment in prevention programmes and a more coherent approach to male health is key to improving this situation. For example, there are various national and international strategies for women’s health, but few for men’s health. Creating a national and international strategy for men’s health is a first step to reduce gender inequality in this area.”

Women’s disadvantages are particularly strong in Africa, particularly when it comes to access to education and maternal death during life birth.

The study can be found here.

AADP: The Average Absolute Deviation from Parity (AADP) ranking gives a sense of how close a country is to achieving gender equality (remember, equality does not necessarily mean that men and women are doing well, on average, just that they are more or less equal within their life circumstances).

BIGI: The Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI) ranking is based on a simple average of healthy life expectancy, basic education and life satisfaction. A BIGI score below zero means women are better off than men.

Ideally, a country will have a good BIGI and a good AADP ranking. However, there are countries with a good BIGI ranking and a much lower AADP ranking. In such countries, both men and women have considerable problems, but on the whole, men and women’s disadvantages cancel each other out.

South Africa

Rank Rank in overall parity Country BIGI AADP Basic education Healthy lifespan Life satisfaction Human development index
1 12 Bahrain -0.00794 0.00794 -0.01264 0.00000 -0.01117 0.82050
2 24 Great Britain -0.01455 0.01567 -0.01214 -0.03318 0.00169 0.90500
3 27 Netherlands -0.01585 0.01585 -0.01109 -0.02748 -0.00898 0.92300
4 35 Iceland -0.01768 0.01681 -0.01101 -0.02437 -0.01506 0.91550
5 32 New Zealand -0.01709 0.01709 -0.01033 -0.02725 -0.01368 0.91150
6 30 Serbia -0.01670 0.01851 -0.00487 -0.04794 0.00273 0.77200
7 39 Norway -0.01950 0.01865 -0.00417 -0.03303 -0.01875 0.94600
8 34 Ireland -0.01744 0.02011 0.00401 -0.04635 -0.00997 0.91375
9 40 Ecuador -0.02012 0.02012 -0.00663 -0.05348 -0.00025 0.73500
10 31 Lebanon -0.01697 0.02016 0.00479 -0.04472 -0.01098 0.76375
11 10 Malta -0.00732 0.02170 -0.01064 -0.03288 0.02157 0.84600
12 16 Belgium -0.01118 0.02190 0.01609 -0.04925 -0.00038 0.89250
13 2 Israel 0.00063 0.02230 0.02111 -0.03251 0.01328 0.89575
14 45 United Arab Emirates -0.02244 0.02244 -0.03587 0.00000 -0.03145 0.83425
15 26 Sweden -0.01575 0.02253 0.01017 -0.03792 -0.01950 0.90800
16 46 Denmark -0.02347 0.02347 -0.03058 -0.03604 -0.00380 0.92450
17 23 Canada -0.01417 0.02380 0.01445 -0.03777 -0.01919 0.91500
18 11 Switzerland -0.00794 0.02391 0.02404 -0.04011 -0.00757 0.93675
19 49 Australia -0.02420 0.02420 -0.01385 -0.04032 -0.01844 0.93625
20 36 Czech Rep. -0.01833 0.02466 0.00325 -0.06448 0.00625 0.87225
21 52 Cyprus -0.02550 0.02550 -0.01317 -0.03495 -0.02838 0.85225
22 43 France -0.02177 0.02567 -0.00430 -0.06686 0.00584 0.89200
23 4 Azerbaijan -0.00267 0.02639 0.02781 -0.04359 0.00777 0.75350
24 1 Italy 0.00021 0.02695 0.00178 -0.04011 0.03897 0.88025
25 87 Belize -0.04794 0.02939 0.00323 -0.08355 -0.00140 0.70575
26 20 Germany -0.01299 0.02945 0.02468 -0.05147 -0.01219 0.92225
27 58 Spain -0.02990 0.02990 -0.00438 -0.05832 -0.02702 0.87925
28 21 Montenegro -0.01312 0.03023 0.03238 -0.03980 -0.01852 0.80325
29 33 Austria -0.01739 0.03057 0.01978 -0.05998 -0.01196 0.89100
30 42 Luxembourg -0.02113 0.03091 -0.03208 -0.04599 0.01467 0.89450
31 18 Albania -0.01289 0.03223 0.02901 -0.01818 -0.04950 0.76150
32 66 Malaysia -0.03595 0.03242 -0.00505 -0.05152 -0.04071 0.78450
33 9 Macedonia 0.00683 0.03244 0.02806 -0.03841 0.03085 0.74450
34 61 United States of America -0.03294 0.03294 -0.02006 -0.04757 -0.03118 0.91725
35 62 Jordan -0.03303 0.03303 -0.00468 -0.02173 -0.07268 0.73900
36 8 China 0.00626 0.03352 0.05967 -0.03504 -0.00585 0.72700
37 63 Chile -0.03321 0.03356 -0.03905 -0.06111 0.00052 0.84100
38 38 Greece -0.01916 0.03414 0.02247 -0.04909 -0.03086 0.86325
39 37 Peru 0.01863 0.03438 0.07510 -0.02362 0.00442 0.73575
40 60 Moldova (Republic of) -0.03240 0.03452 0.00318 -0.09538 -0.00501 0.69550
41 65 Mexico -0.03545 0.03545 -0.04241 -0.05797 -0.00595 0.75675
42 13 Madagascar 0.00997 0.03580 0.06866 -0.03652 -0.00223 0.51000
43 68 Paraguay -0.03600 0.03600 -0.05271 -0.05400 -0.00128 0.68800
44 44 Slovenia -0.02206 0.03621 -0.01060 -0.07680 0.02122 0.88600
45 70 Brazil -0.03678 0.03678 -0.03711 -0.06858 -0.00464 0.74725
46 50 Romania -0.02455 0.03692 -0.01062 -0.08159 0.01856 0.79775
47 59 Kuwait -0.03106 0.03694 -0.04861 0.00882 -0.05339 0.79550
48 6 Singapore 0.00315 0.03701 0.05710 -0.04451 -0.00942 0.92275
49 5 Indonesia -0.00309 0.03777 0.05202 -0.03468 -0.02660 0.68350
50 72 Finland -0.03802 0.03802 -0.00628 -0.06502 -0.04276 0.89125
51 25 Kyrgyz Republic -0.01509 0.03857 0.02218 -0.08049 0.01304 0.65725
52 29 Georgia -0.01654 0.03866 0.03072 -0.08279 0.00246 0.76275
53 73 Bangladesh -0.03892 0.03892 -0.03523 -0.00904 -0.07251 0.57225
54 41 Slovak Republic -0.02104 0.03991 0.00314 -0.09143 0.02516 0.84150
55 76 Tajikistan 0.03958 0.04158 0.10556 -0.00299 0.01618 0.62275
56 22 Bosnia and Herzegovina -0.01387 0.04215 0.03922 -0.05714 -0.03010 0.74350
57 47 Hungary -0.02361 0.04249 0.01302 -0.09915 0.01529 0.83200
58 80 Japan -0.04286 0.04286 -0.01000 -0.06940 -0.04917 0.89950
59 19 Bulgaria -0.01290 0.04362 0.02541 -0.08478 0.02068 0.78850
60 81 Costa Rica -0.04373 0.04373 -0.04921 -0.04225 -0.03972 0.77025
61 67 Kazakhstan -0.03598 0.04513 0.00042 -0.12167 0.01330 0.78950
62 56 Croatia -0.02832 0.04519 -0.04455 -0.06571 0.02531 0.82175
63 85 Honduras -0.04623 0.04623 -0.08593 -0.04644 -0.00631 0.62000
64 78 Korea (Republic of) -0.04113 0.04664 0.00827 -0.07243 -0.05922 0.89675
65 82 Latvia -0.04533 0.04759 -0.01947 -0.11991 0.00338 0.82350
66 86 Estonia -0.04631 0.04791 -0.01740 -0.12394 0.00240 0.86100
67 54 El Salvador -0.02645 0.04903 0.03387 -0.08932 -0.02390 0.67725
68 89 Panama -0.04907 0.04907 -0.07370 -0.05781 -0.01569 0.78150
69 28 Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 0.01648 0.04956 0.06422 -0.04963 0.03483 0.66800
70 14 Zimbabwe -0.01028 0.04996 0.06027 -0.07089 -0.01872 0.50225
71 91 Poland -0.05090 0.05090 -0.01735 -0.09907 -0.03628 0.84875
72 3 Saudi Arabia -0.00155 0.05144 0.07483 -0.03087 -0.04862 0.84075
73 53 Viet Nam -0.02598 0.05251 0.03979 -0.09025 -0.02748 0.67600
74 75 Botswana -0.03953 0.05468 -0.13115 -0.01016 0.02272 0.69650
75 77 Lithuania -0.03962 0.05484 0.01067 -0.14168 0.01217 0.84225
76 69 Rwanda 0.03671 0.05536 0.09620 -0.02934 0.04055 0.49100
77 97 Colombia -0.05558 0.05558 -0.07398 -0.06360 -0.02917 0.72075
78 48 Mauritius -0.02381 0.05565 0.05216 -0.07756 -0.03725 0.77350
79 55 Burundi 0.02732 0.05646 0.12470 -0.03787 -0.00681 0.40300
80 15 Kenya 0.01113 0.05649 0.10143 -0.03056 -0.03748 0.54800
81 100 Sri Lanka -0.05761 0.05650 -0.05267 -0.06873 -0.04809 0.76175
82 98 South Africa -0.05560 0.05654 -0.10774 -0.06047 0.00141 0.66075
83 7 Turkey -0.00616 0.05673 0.07585 -0.05373 -0.04059 0.76100
84 99 Portugal -0.05676 0.05676 -0.08245 -0.06027 -0.02754 0.83700
85 101 Jamaica -0.05821 0.05908 -0.09979 -0.06667 -0.01078 0.72825
86 104 Argentina -0.05960 0.05960 -0.08308 -0.07246 -0.02325 0.82525
87 105 Thailand -0.06116 0.06116 -0.07061 -0.08641 -0.02645 0.73700
88 83 Belarus -0.04567 0.06261 -0.01056 -0.15196 0.02530 0.79650
89 74 Russia -0.03949 0.06416 0.01739 -0.15548 0.01963 0.80275
90 88 Trinidad and Tobago -0.04859 0.06463 -0.05030 -0.03800 -0.10558 0.77750
91 106 Armenia -0.06523 0.06523 -0.10006 -0.08600 -0.00962 0.73975
92 107 Dominican Rep. -0.06627 0.06627 -0.12793 -0.03097 -0.03991 0.71525
93 103 Qatar -0.05937 0.06628 -0.10421 0.02353 -0.07111 0.85200
94 108 Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) -0.06653 0.06653 -0.09542 -0.07570 -0.02848 0.76925
95 109 Nicaragua -0.06813 0.06813 -0.13631 -0.05758 -0.01050 0.63825
96 71 Syria 0.03680 0.06987 0.12976 -0.06117 0.01868 0.57475
97 51 Ukraine -0.02481 0.07017 -0.01458 -0.12789 0.06805 0.74525
98 92 Tanzania (United Republic of) 0.05197 0.07155 0.15517 -0.02937 0.03010 0.51875
99 96 Ghana 0.05442 0.07192 0.15320 -0.02625 0.03631 0.57500
100 111 Uruguay -0.07366 0.07366 -0.10006 -0.07714 -0.04378 0.79200
101 17 Guatemala 0.01220 0.07688 0.13361 -0.07196 -0.02505 0.62550
102 112 Mongolia -0.07693 0.07693 -0.06632 -0.11113 -0.05333 0.72925
103 93 Tunisia 0.05382 0.07701 0.18283 -0.03936 0.00885 0.72250
104 79 Algeria 0.04284 0.08338 0.18834 -0.01587 -0.04591 0.74150
105 116 Suriname -0.08442 0.08552 -0.17081 -0.08162 0.00412 0.72225
106 84 Uganda 0.04568 0.08607 0.19763 -0.05435 -0.00624 0.48550
107 110 Malawi 0.07135 0.09029 0.22548 -0.02840 0.01698 0.46850
108 90 Cambodia 0.04941 0.09393 0.18443 -0.06679 0.03058 0.55500
109 57 Iran (Islamic Republic of) -0.02898 0.09678 0.10170 -0.03137 -0.15729 0.77175
110 94 Cameroon 0.05383 0.09809 0.22685 -0.01020 -0.05722 0.51000
111 64 Egypt 0.03333 0.09841 0.19761 -0.04158 -0.05604 0.68650
112 121 Philippines -0.09874 0.09874 -0.15951 -0.08839 -0.04832 0.67700
113 115 Zambia 0.08292 0.10469 0.25035 -0.03230 0.03142 0.57250
114 117 India 0.08477 0.10761 0.28583 -0.03425 0.00275 0.61125
115 120 Nigeria 0.09076 0.11014 0.30240 -0.00426 -0.02377 0.52175
116 113 Angola 0.07718 0.11298 0.27046 -0.05968 -0.00879 0.52850
117 122 Bhutan 0.10976 0.11433 0.31798 -0.02150 0.00352 0.59900
118 119 Mauritania 0.09051 0.12053 0.29360 -0.04503 0.02294 0.50900
119 102 Namibia -0.05866 0.12256 -0.21754 -0.04777 0.10235 0.63350
120 95 Morocco 0.05386 0.12388 0.26661 -0.02888 -0.07616 0.64150
121 114 Nepal 0.08147 0.13153 0.31949 -0.02000 -0.05509 0.55225
122 123 Senegal 0.11005 0.13227 0.36348 -0.02967 -0.00366 0.48550
123 127 Burkina Faso 0.12362 0.13767 0.39169 -0.02107 0.00024 0.39750
124 124 Pakistan 0.11617 0.14280 0.38846 -0.00338 -0.03656 0.54450
125 125 Ethiopia 0.11647 0.14572 0.37882 -0.04388 0.01447 0.43775
126 128 Mozambique 0.12896 0.15070 0.41463 -0.01286 0.02461 0.41150
127 129 Lesotho -0.15264 0.15520 -0.36738 -0.06563 -0.03260 0.49175
128 126 Cote d’Ivoire 0.11995 0.15663 0.41494 -0.03804 -0.01689 0.46275
129 132 Mali 0.16047 0.16047 0.45581 0.00148 0.02414 0.43275
130 118 Yemen 0.09023 0.16653 0.38513 -0.02546 -0.08900 0.49475
131 130 Guinea 0.15346 0.17123 0.48838 -0.02000 -0.00532 0.41150
132 131 Liberia 0.15764 0.17410 0.49762 -0.01887 -0.00582 0.42450
133 133 Benin 0.18726 0.18961 0.49987 -0.00980 0.05915 0.47675
134 134 Chad 0.23114 0.24009 0.66015 -0.01343 0.04670 0.39175

 

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