Special Report

The Countries That Have Come Closest to True Gender Equality

If a country’s attitude towards gender equality is a factor in deciding where you’d travel to next, then your bucket list may look very different than the most visited countries in the world.

Gender equality is the right to equal opportunities and resources regardless of gender. In its annual report, the World Economic Forum reviewed the percentages of men and women working, economic opportunities, educational attainment, health status, and political empowerment to measure overall gender equality in 149 countries.

Scandinavian countries lead the way. Famous for being open-minded, Iceland has a smaller gender gap than any other country, even though one still exists, especially when it comes to pay. What some people may find surprising is that the rest of the top 10 list features developing countries such as Rwanda and Nicaragua, but not the United Kingdom, which came 15th.

The report is not a ranking of the best places for women to live in. For example, even though Nicaragua comes in fifth, it does not mean that women there are overall better off than women in the United States, which ranks 51st. The WEF index measures countries on their progress toward women having the same economic, survival, education, and political opportunities as men.

Globally, the overall gender gap stood at 68% in 2018, which was only slightly better than 2017. There is still a 32% average gender gap to be closed. The good news is that 89 of the 144 nations included in the list both years are marking a positive change.

All geographical regions in the report have achieved at least 60% gender parity. Western Europe is leading the way with the smallest overall gender gap – 34.2% remains to be closed. North America (27.5%) and Latin America (29.2%) are second and third.

However, despite decades of raising awareness for gender equality and making political pledges to improve the status of women, the world has a long way to go in reaching parity. These are the countries where women are still far away from being equal to men.

Click here to read about the best countries for gender equality.

The following list is based on the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Report, which compares 149 countries and their progress toward gender parity. The ranking is based on four major dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

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