Who has the most dangerous job?

October 12, 2011

During one of my rare visits to a social media site which I always regarded as dubious but unfortunately still cannot avoid because it helps me to find and connect with likeminded people, I accidentally stumbled on a discussion about gender inequality which started with this statement:

Women are half of the worlds population, working two thirds of the world’s working hours, receiving 10 percent of the world’s income, owning less than 1 percent of the worlds property.

The statement provoked a fierce response by a male participant who argued:

“95 percent of the tens of thousands of annual work related deaths are men. Almost all workers in the Difficult, Dirty & Dangerous sectors, are men. (e.g. sewer worker’s in Paris, who die nearly 20years earlier than general population).

Western patriarchy was a system that got the majority of men to work their asses off to contribute to the upkeep of a wife and kids, and even more so: the wealth of the politicos / banksters & robber barons at the top. In return the vast majority of men got an income and a wife and family.

Western patriarchy is over now. Women initiate 60 to 70 percent of divorces. Men no longer have any rights to be with their kids, nor to the wealth they generate from work.”

The rant of this person went one declaring that “Western men are 3 to 5 times more likely to kill themselves than women. 90 percent of homeless are men.”

He forgot to mention, that men commit 80 to 90 percent of all crimes and nearly all of violent crimes and that men are 93 percent of the US prison population with even higher male to female ratios in most other countries.


I’m a male myself, but throughout my life I didn’t see much evidence that women are privileged because men do all the dirty and dangerous work for them. In contrary, I saw many examples where women had to risk their health or even their life to get a job done.

I was present, when my son Alexander was born, it was a life-changing experience which I never will forget and which taught me to respect and admire women. It was a comparatively easy birth but it was nevertheless strenuous and for a short time even painful for my wife.

The rant by the above mentioned guy about dangerous jobs of males seems off the mark if not awfully wrong in spite of the risks pregnant women are facing.

Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world, a woman dies during pregnancy or birth or after birth-related complications — about 400.000 women each year. The estimated death of mothers during childbirth will be about 300.000 this year. For every woman who dies another 16 – 20 suffer debilitating postpartum traumas such as obstetric fistula, ruptured uterus and paralysis. The WHO estimates that 2 million women need surgical repair for obstetric fistula, with an additional 60,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring each year.

Many women die in terrible pain. Some die in their homes, untended by anyone with medical skills. Some die while trying to get to hospitals, on foot, in cars, on motorbikes while others die in hospital beds, because they reached the place too late to get the necessary life saving treatment.

Despite an overall reduction in global maternal mortality figures, most countries are still far from achieving the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG5) of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent. In subsaharan Africa the lifetime risk of a woman to die from childbirth or pregnancy is one in sixteen.

According to WHO statistics Sierra Leone and Afghanistan have the highest maternal death rate (one in fifty women), Ireland and Austria have the lowest rate (near zero).

Two to three women die of pregnancy-related complications every day in the United States. Despite spending twice what any other country spends on hospital care related to pregnancy and childbirth, US maternal mortality has worsened, falling from 41st to 50th place in world rankings for 2010.

Just mentioning the dangers women face beside the risk of childbirth:

Violence causes more death and disability worldwide amongst women aged 15 – 44 than war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents. One in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

A woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read, one third of all women there are raped.

A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute concluded that in the Democratic Republic of Congo approximately 400,000 women were raped between 2006 and 2007. This amounts to roughly 48 women raped per hour.

The mentioned facts imply, that being a woman is a dangerous job by itself.

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