Special Report

The 30 Countries with the Smallest Gender Gap

Source: dimarik / Getty Images

5. Nicaragua
>2020 score (0-1): 0.804
>2006 score: 0.657 (62nd out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.627 (120th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.560 (113th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.543 (57th out of 153)

Nicaragua is the only Latin country among the 10 nations with the smallest gender gaps, having closed just over 80% of its gender gap, the fifth best performance in the world in 2020. Gender income disparities remain wide in the region, and Nicaragua is the best performer — it has yet to close over 22% of its gap. Nicaragua has the third lowest political empowerment gender gap in the world with about 57% of the gap already closed. The country is known for having female political leaders. There are more women in ministerial positions than men. However, the country’s economic participation and opportunity score is low by international comparison, with only 67.1% of it being closed, ranking 81st.

Source: Drazen_ / Getty Images

4. Sweden
>2020 score (0-1): 0.820
>2006 score: 0.813 (1st out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.955 (14th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.694 (50th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.628 (35th out of 153)

Although Sweden dropped one place in the overall gender gap ranking since 2018, the country is still among those where the gender gap is smallest — about 82% closed. The economic participation and opportunity measure of the index is slightly worse than in 2018 due to very little improvement in the wage gender gap — now standing at almost 77% — and the number of women in the labor force — about 81% of women are working, compared with almost 85% of men. Sweden has the highest share of women graduates from STEM programs among Nordic countries.

Source: Marco_Piunti / Getty Images

3. Finland
>2020 score (0-1): 0.832
>2006 score: 0.796 (3rd out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.959 (13th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.798 (9th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.467 (77th out of 153)

Finland keeps improving when it comes to gender equality. The Nordic country moved up in the ranking by one place since last year after it narrowed its overall gender gap by 1 percentage point to 83.2%. The higher ranking in 2020 is due to Finland’s narrower political empowerment gap. The share of women in parliament increased to 47% from 42% in 2019, offsetting a small decrease in the share of women in ministerial positions. Finland slightly reduced its economic participation and opportunity gender gap by 2 percentage points from last year. While there are more women in senior roles, that dimension of the index still has a relatively large gender gap level — 46.7%.

Source: Oleh_Slobodeniuk / Getty Images

2. Norway
>2020 score (0-1): 0.842
>2006 score: 0.799 (2nd out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.949 (16th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.745 (19th out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.553 (54th out of 153)

By 2020, Norway has closed 84.2% of its overall gender gap, almost 1 percentage point more than in 2019. As in many countries at the top of the list, Norway has completely closed its educational attainment and health and survival gaps. The economic participation gap is 79.8% closed, 11th highest. The opportunity and political empowerment gap is 59.8% closed, the second highest, even though women still comprise less than half of both parliamentarians (40.8%) and ministers (42%). The gender gap is almost closed when it comes to labor force participation, as 75.2% of women are working (compared with 79.2% of men), even though women are much less likely to be in managerial positions. There are, however, more women than men among professional and technical workers.

Source: Jack Taylor / Getty Images

1. Iceland
>2020 score (0-1): 0.877
>2006 score: 0.781 (4th out of 115)
>Labor force participation score in 2020: 0.945 (17th out of 153)
>Wage equality for similar work in 2020: 0.846 (1st out of 153)
>Legislators, senior officials and managers in 2020: 0.708 (21st out of 153)

Iceland, again, ranks at the top of the WEF gender parity index, the 11th time in a row. The country has closed 88% of its gender gap so far. Iceland leads the political empowerment category, having closed about 70% of the gap. The presence of women in parliament, ministerial positions, and acting as heads of states is the most widespread compared with all other countries assessed by the index. Iceland’s score is almost four times higher than the global average. The country has the second-best performance on economic participation and opportunity subindex. About 85.8% of women are in the labor market, and they often occupy senior and managerial roles. About 43% of the companies’ board members are women.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.