According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index (2016), the 10 worst countries for gender equality are those in which Islam is the dominant religious demographic. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has undertaken even an ounce of research into the core doctrines and common traditions associated with this extremely patriarchal religion. Whilst Islam is not a monolith and many variations exist with regards to beliefs, practices, degrees of adherence, etc., it is noteworthy that those societies which treat their women the worst all zealously adhere to a religion that sees women as inherently inferior to men.
The Worst 10 Nations on Earth
- Saudi Arabia
- Côte d’Ivoire 
Gender Inequality in the Central Pillar of Islam
As per the Qur’an, which is the central pillar of Islam, women are inferior to men in almost every conceivable way. The Qur’an is explicit with regards to the disparate rights and privileges afforded to men and women. To be fair, the Qur’an does offer the pointless platitude regarding the spiritual equality of men and women (Qur’an 3:195), which I’m sure most rational and sane people will agree, means absolutely nothing in the actual world.
The Qur’an holds: A sister is entitled to only half of that which her brother is entitled with regards to inheritance (Qur’an 4:11). A woman’s testimony is only half as valid as that of a man’s (Qur’an 2:282), the reasoning for which was elaborated upon by the “Prophet” in the Sahih al-Bukhari in the following words: “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence…”
Further, a woman’s husband can physically assault her for exercising her autonomy by disobeying him (Qur’an 4:34). A husband is entitled to have sex with his wife how and when he pleases (Qur’an 2:223). Female sex-slaves are expressly rendered the chattels of their male slave masters (Qur’an 4:24, 23:5-6). A man may have multiple wives (Qur’an 4:3) and he need not treat them all equally (Qur’an 4:129), yet a woman may not have more than one male overlord at a time (This is not in the Qur’an, it just a given in Islam).
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This is just a small sample of the acute gender inequality that exists within the central and superlative source of the Islamic religion. Now, add to this the rampant misogyny and gender inequality found in the secondary pillar of Islam, namely, the hadith. Finally, if we wish to be thorough, we could also take into account the gender inequality that has been infused into the fabric of Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic traditions established over the last 1,400 years. So, I ask you, is it any wonder that countries at the bottom of the list for gender equality all faithfully adhere to this extremely misogynistic religion?
Anticipated Objection: It’s Culture, Not Religion
To argue that culture is to blame here and not religion, is to be ignorant of the interdependent relationship between religion and culture. Societies and cultures vary in this regards, I do concede, however one need only examine the extent to which a given culture has its ethics and morality informed by the dominant religion to establish the extent to which one can place blame on the religion which regulates the culture in question. In the 17 worst nations for gender equality, religion plays a major role in informing the values, ethics and morality of the offending societies. I sincerely hope this has answered your objection.
- Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has been disputed by some readers as not qualified to be included as a country in which Islam is the dominant religious demographic. At present, the President of Côte d’Ivoire is a Sunni Muslim (Alassane Ouattara) and Islam is the dominant religious demographic. In Chapter 30 of their book, Travel and Tourism, National Geographic says: ‘Islam is the dominant religion of the two countries [Senegal and Ivory Coast]’. Further, in How the World’s Religion’s are Responding to Climate Change, Veldman, Szaz and Haluza-Delay state: ‘The incursion of Muslims resulted in conversions to the extent that Islam is now the dominant religion in Côte d’Ivoire’. Although Côte d’Ivoire does have a significant Christian population, and there exists a degree of Syncretism between the Abrahamic religions and indigenous beliefs, Islam is the dominant religious demographic.