The world’s best countries for women in terms of gender equality have been announced. We take a look at the updated results
Norway is the best country to be a woman according to the latest academic report on women’s status and empowerment around the world. The Nordic countries again performed well with Norway followed by Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Luxembourg.
At the other end of the index, Afghanistan was ranked the worst country to be a woman following the Taliban takeover in 2021. Other poor performers were Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq.
The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, in partnership with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, periodically updates its Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index. The index ranks 170 countries by women’s equality.
The index assesses women’s inclusion in society, sense of security and exposure to discrimination – key indicators of how women are faring in different communities and cultures. This is the third edition of the index since its launch in 2017.
10 best countries for women
The 10 best countries for women are all located in Europe and are all classed as developing countries.
“In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, both fathers and mothers have access to at least a year of paid parental leave, also helping to even out childcare responsibilities.”– GIWPS
10 worst countries for women
Of the bottom 10 countries, eight are classified by the World Bank as fragile states.
- South Sudan
- DR Congo
- Sierra Leone
“The collapse of the Afghan government and rise of the Taliban in August 2021 clearly jeopardize past progress for Afghan women and threaten reversals in access to rights and justice.”– GIWPS
Assessing gender equality
The index uses 11 indicators to assess the world’s best countries for women in terms of gender equality. These indicators fall into three categories: inclusion, security and justice.
- Education: average years of education among women aged 25 and over
- Financial inclusion: percentage of women aged 15 and over who have a bank account, joint bank account or use a mobile banking app
- Employment: percentage of women aged 25 and older that are employed
- Cellphone use: percentage of women aged 15 and older who have access to a mobile phone
- Parliamentary representation: percentage of seats held by women across all houses of national parliaments
- Legal discrimination: aggregate score of laws and regulations that limit women’s ability to participate in society or the economy
- Son bias: where the ratio of male to female births exceed the natural rate
- Discriminatory norms: percentage of men aged 15 years and older who say it’s unacceptable for women to hold paying jobs
- Intimate partner violence: percentage of women physically or sexually assaulted in the last 12 months
- Community safety: percentage of women aged 15 and older who report feeling safe while walking alone at night
- Organised violence: deaths per 100,000 people caused by large-scale armed conflicts
“Women are critical to achieving sustainable peace”– GIWPS
The global report draws on recognised data sources to measure women’s inclusion, justice and security in 170 countries. The latest edition suggests that the global rate of improvement has slowed significantly, with widening disparities across countries.
“This reflects,” the report says, “a worsening of inequalities in the status of women, as countries at the top, continue to improve while those at the bottom get worse, mirroring global trends in wealth and income inequality.”
Norway is the world’s best country for women in 2022. The 10 best countries for women are all in Europe with Canada (12) the highest-ranked non-European country.
Nordic countries continue to perform well with their efforts to improve women’s rights and opportunities. Recently, the Swedish government has had success with addressing sexual harassment and violence against women while the Danish and Finnish governments have distributed guidance to employers on connecting survivors with support to combat workplace harassment.
In 2018, Iceland set the standard by becoming the first country to require companies with at least 25 employees to prove that they were paying men and women equally. Norway has led the way in improving conditions for women in sports by signing an equal pay agreement for men’s and women’s soccer teams and national football associations.
New Zealand (13) is the highest-placed Asia-Pacific country with Singapore (15), the highest-placed Asian county. The UAE is the highest-placed country in the Middle East. The UK is ninth while the USA is 21st.
Among regions, the Middle East and North Africa generally perform poorly overall. Six of the top 10 most improved countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa: Central African Republic, Mali, Cameroon, Benin, Kenya and Rwanda.
World’s best countries for women: ranking
The ranking below reflects the average of each country’s scores across all 11 metrics. All countries are ranked on a 0-1 scale. The highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest is 0 (inequality).
|32||Hong Kong, SAR China||0.829|
|52||Trinidad & Tobago||0.771|
|56||Bosnia & Herz||0.764|
|119||São Tomé & Príncipe||0.656|
|145||Papua New Guinea||0.604|
|157||Central African Rep.||0.577|
The full report can be downloaded here.