The United States has finished behind countries including Algeria and Kazakhstan in a new ranking of the best and worst countries in which to be a girl.The report compiled by Save the Children suggested Sweden was the best place for young females to live. Niger finished at the bottom. The U.S. was rated 32nd on the 144-country list.
Not all rich countries are doing as well as they could for their girls, according to the non-governmental organization. It singled out the U.S. in particular.
"There are things where we do not shine on the U.S. side," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. One major example she pointed to was female representation in national government.
The rankings are based on a series of five factors the organization selected as key predictors of the ability for girls to thrive — rates of early marriage, adolescent fertility, maternal mortality, women in government and lower secondary school completion.
"The Girls' Opportunity Index provides a snapshot of the situation of girls in countries the world over — their opportunity to control their own lives and to fulfil their potential," the report states. "While it is impossible to capture the full range of barriers that are holding girls back in life in a single index, we have sought to identify issues that provide insights into the some of the most extreme violations of girls' rights, which stem from deeply entrenched discriminatory norms as well as from economic and political barriers."
The U.S. was hurt by relatively high rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality compared to other countries in the same income bracket.
Women hold 19.4 percent of the 535 seats in Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. In Sweden, by contrast, women make up 44 percent of the lawmakers in parliament, the European Institute for Gender Equality has found.