At first glance it looks as though Australia has both competitions sewn up. The Wallabies are a force to be reckoned with on the field while the Russian Bears rank a lowly 19th in the World Cup pool. Russia is also bringing up the rear in the social equality and justice rankings at number 20 while Australia sits somewhere in the middle at number 8. Russia loses ground on every single social justice indicator to the Aussies. The only one in which they are close in value is the happy planet rating.
On a scale of 0-1 with 0 being the most desirable, Australia scores 0.296 on gender inequality, Russia scores 0.442. A striking symptom of gender inequality in Russia is the growing mail order bride industry. Every year, 25,000 women sign up to marriage agencies in Russia. These women agree to marry often older men from countries like the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. The motivation for these women to leave their home country and marry a stranger may be that Russian women hold lowly jobs and earn a measly 43 percent of the wages men do. Women are not permitted to work some jobs.
Tatiana Taseura, manager of a Moscow marriage agency, said, ‘if the girl is young and pretty why shouldn’t she sell herself and make a profit? If she’s beautiful why should she be poor?’ Never mind if she is marrying someone twice her age who doesn’t speak her language. Women’s rights campaigners say these transactions are tantamount to human trade.
On further inspection there’s at least one thing that the Ruskies have the upper hand in. Seventy percent of Australian and 69 percent of Russian women work. But Australian women lose out to their Russian counterparts in the amount of maternity leave they are allowed. A working woman in Russia is entitled to 140 days of fully paid maternity leave or 955 days of partially paid parental leave, and can take breaks to breast feed while working. Her Aussie sisters only get 126 days of partially paid parental leave and no breaks for nursing.
It goes to show, it all depends on what figures you look at: all nations have a mix of good and bad. Rating and ranking 20 nations from around the globe for social equality and justice has proved fascinating and thought provoking. We all have a lot to learn from other’s mistakes and victories. Best of luck to both the Wallabies and the Bears, on Saturday night! I however will be curled up with a good novel.
Emily Benefield is Communications Assistant for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand – and the rugby is usually of no interest.