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World’s best countries for women – updated for 2016

The best countries for women in terms of gender equality have been announced by The World Economic Forum in the new edition of its annual Global Gender Gap report.

The 2016 report assesses 144 economies on how well they utilise the female workforce in their country based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators. The report can be used as an objective analysis of women’s quality of life and to thereby rank the world’s best countries for women with regards to business, politics, education and health.

Assessing gender equality

To produce the Index, the World Economic Forum analyses more than a dozen datasets including those produced by World Economic ForumUNESCO Institute of Statistics and the OECD. The rankings are compiled by calculating gender-based gaps in accessing resources such as education, healthcare and opportunities to participate in political and economic processes.

Assessing the gender gap enables the Index to compare rich and poor countries on an equal footing. It is the disparity between genders that is being measured rather than the baseline quality of living.

best countries for women: insights

Out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 68 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared with last year, while 74 have seen it decrease. It has therefore been an ambiguous year for global gender parity, with uneven progress at best.

The Nordic states are consistently the best countries for women and have been so since the report was first produced in 2006.

Iceland (1) takes the top spot for the eighth consecutive year. Finland (2) overtakes Norway and regains its second place in the world. As a result, Norway (3) returns to its previous third-place position. Meanwhile, Sweden (4) maintains its ranking as fourth best for the eighth year running.

Rwanda (5) crosses the threshold of closing 80% of its gender gap and overtakes Ireland to break into the top five for the first time since entering the Index. Notably, it is the country with the highest share of female parliamentarians in the world at 64%.

The UK (20) drops two places from 18 last year with an overall slight decline in female legislators, senior officials and managers as well as professional and technical workers.

Meanwhile, the US (45) drops a significant 17 places from 28 last year. According to the report, female labour force participation in the US has been stagnating for a number of years, including among legislators, senior officials and managers.

The worst country for gender parity is, as last year, Yemen (144). Making up the rest of the bottom five are Pakistan (143), Syria (142), Saudi Arabia (141) and Chad (140).

best countries for women ranking

The highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest possible score is 0 (inequality).

RankEconomyScore
1Iceland0.874
2Finland0.845
3Norway0.842
4Sweden0.815
5Rwanda0.800
6Ireland0.797
7Philippines0.786
8Slovenia0.786
9New Zealand0.781
10Nicaragua0.780
11Switzerland0.776
12Burundi0.768
13Germany0.766
14Namibia0.765
15South Africa0.764
16Netherlands0.756
17France0.755
18Latvia0.755
19Denmark0.754
20United Kingdom0.752
21Mozambique0.750
22Estonia0.747
23Bolivia0.746
24Belgium0.745
25Lithuania0.744
26Moldova0.741
27Cuba0.740
28Barbados0.739
29Spain0.738
30Belarus0.737
31Portugal0.737
32Costa Rica0.736
33Argentina0.735
34Luxembourg0.734
35Canada0.731
36Cape Verde0.729
37Bahamas0.729
38Poland0.727
39Colombia0.727
40Ecuador0.726
41Bulgaria0.726
42Jamaica0.724
43Lao PDR0.724
44Trinidad and Tobago0.723
45United States0.722
46Australia0.721
47Panama0.721
48Serbia0.720
49Israel0.719
50Italy0.719
51Kazakhstan0.718
52Austria0.716
53Tanzania0.716
54Botswana0.715
55Singapore0.712
56Zimbabwe0.710
57Lesotho0.706
58Mongolia0.705
59Ghana0.705
60Madagascar0.704
61Uganda0.704
62Albania0.704
63Kenya0.702
64El Salvador0.702
65Vietnam0.700
66Mexico0.700
67Malawi0.700
68Croatia0.700
69Ukraine0.700
70Chile0.699
71Thailand0.699
72Bangladesh0.698
73Macedonia, FYR0.696
74Venezuela0.694
75Russian Federation0.691
76Romania0.690
77Czech Republic0.690
78Honduras0.690
79Brazil0.687
80Peru0.687
81Kyrgyz Republic0.687
82Senegal0.685
83Bosnia and Herzegovina0.685
84Cyprus0.684
85Cameroon0.684
86Azerbaijan0.684
87India0.683
88Indonesia0.682
89Montenegro0.681
90Georgia0.681
91Uruguay0.681
92Greece0.680
93Tajikistan0.679
94Slovak Republic0.679
95Suriname0.679
96Paraguay0.676
97Dominican Republic0.676
98Belize0.676
99China0.676
100Sri Lanka0.673
101Hungary0.669
102Armenia0.669
103Brunei Darussalam0.669
104Gambia, The0.667
105Guatemala0.666
106Malaysia0.666
107Swaziland0.665
108Malta0.664
109Ethiopia0.662
110Nepal0.661
111Japan0.660
112Cambodia0.658
113Mauritius0.652
114Liberia0.652
115Maldives0.650
116Korea, Rep.0.649
117Angola0.643
118Nigeria0.643
119Qatar0.643
120Algeria0.642
121Bhutan0.642
122Guinea0.640
123Burkina Faso0.640
124United Arab Emirates0.639
125Timor-Leste0.637
126Tunisia0.636
127Benin0.636
128Kuwait0.624
129Mauritania0.624
130Turkey0.623
131Bahrain0.615
132Egypt0.614
133Oman0.612
134Jordan0.603
135Lebanon0.598
136Cote d’Ivoire0.597
137Morocco0.597
138Mali0.591
139Iran, Islamic Rep.0.587
140Chad0.587
141Saudi Arabia0.583
142Syria0.567
143Pakistan0.556
144Yemen0.516

* Indicates new countries for 2015
Source: Global Gender Gap Report 2016.

(Lead image: Dreamstime) 

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