Life

These are the 10 best countries around the world to live if you’re a woman

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Christobel Hastings
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Curious as to which countries around the world put women’s rights top of the agenda? Thanks to a new survey exploring the human rights, gender equality, income equality, progress, and safety of 80 countries around the globe, we now know who does it best. 

In our imaginations, most people have a good idea which countries around the world would give us the best quality of life. You may have pondered the green pastures of New Zealand, dreamed of the golden beaches of Australia, or contemplated the colourful, picturesque towns of Norway when you’re stuck at your desk and the skies outside are grey.

But when it comes to being a woman, the countries you perceive to offer the best quality of life can differ radically with their stance on women’s rights. Forget picture-postcard appearances: gender equality varies enormously across the world, and if you fancy an equal wage, reproductive rights and progressive views away from your homeland, you might be curious to know exactly how the 80 countries around the world compare.

Thanks to a 2019 Best Countries List from the US News & World Report, we now know for sure. After surveying more than 9,000 women as part of its analysis, the organisation produced a ranking of the best countries in the world for women to live in based on human rights, gender equality, income equality, progress, and safety, receiving marks out of 10 for each category. Scroll ahead to find out which 10 countries put women’s rights top of the agenda. Hint: it’s not the UK.

10. Germany

alcohol helps language skills
German women celebrating the country's annual Oktoberfest festivities

With one of the largest economies in the world, a progressive, democratic government and a vibrant, international community, Germany ranked highly for its quality of citizenship with a score of 9.8 for progression.

The country received a score of 7.5 when it came to human rights, while gender equality is rated at 7.0. There’s still work to be done when it comes to income equality though, reflected in the score of 5.5.

9. New Zealand

New Zealand has consistently ranked among the best places in the world for women
The picturesque island nation of New Zealand is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, peacekeeping and forward-thinking policies of its prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who became the youngest female leader in the world in 2017 when she declared victory with the progressive Labour party.

The country received a high score of 8.5 for its progressive citizenship, and 8.6 for human rights, but, somewhat surprisingly, was rated only 7.3 for gender equality.

8. Australia 

Australia scores highly for human rights and gender equality

Golden beaches, natural wonders and wide open spaces: if it’s outdoor living you’re looking for, Australia is a top destination for travellers. The sporty lifestyle means life expectancy is high, and environmental consciousness remains an issue of national importance.

When it comes to citizenship, Australia scored 8.3 for being progressive and 8.7 for human rights. But the rankings dipped slightly with a score of 8.3 for gender equality, and even lower for income equality, with a score of 4.9.

7. Switzerland

Switzerland is ranked as the overall best country in the world

Switzerland takes the top spot in the 2019 Best Countries List as the overall best country in the world, thanks to its strong economy, neutrality and high quality of life, not to mention its stunning natural beauty.

The country scored extremely well with an 8.6 score for human rights, as well as an 8.4 for its progressive citizenship. Gender equality also fared well, with a rating of 8.6, and 8.0 for income equality.

6. Finland

Finland was one of the first countries in the world to grant women the right to vote

Finland is an international leader when it comes to education, civil rights, press freedom and quality of life. It was one of the first countries in the world to grant women the right to vote, and the first to legalise universal suffrage.

Unsurprisingly, this longstanding legacy of gender equality means Finland is a great place to be a woman, with a score of 8.9 for gender equality, and a 9.0 for human rights. The highest score, encouragingly, was 9.6 for income equality. 

5. Netherlands

The Netherlands scored a perfect 10 out of 10 for gender equality

The Netherlands has a reputation for its tolerance and inclusiveness, as well as its liberal views of same-sex marriage, drugs, sex work, euthanasia and abortion. Its progressive government is involved in United Nations peacekeeping efforts, and is vocally supportive of the European Union.

The country scored highly when it came to its progressive citizenship, with a score of 9.6. Most impressively, it achieved perfect scores of 10 for gender equality and human rights. 

4. Norway

Norway scores highly in gender equality and human rights

Norway might be the westernmost country in the Scandinavian peninsula, but its remote location has no bearing on its way of life, despite twice rejecting membership from the European Union.

Voted third in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report in 2016, Norway considers women’s issues a top priority. This is reflected in its scores of 9.9 for human rights, 9.1 for gender equality, and 9.9 for income equality. 

3. Canada

Canada is a world leader in gender equality

Canada is a world leader in diversity, celebrating the country’s history alongside the newer cultures from immigrants. The North American country has a parliamentary democracy and participates in peacekeeping efforts through its membership in the United Nations. 

As one of the most gender-equal nations in the world, Canada scored 8.8 for its progressive citizenship and 9.8 for human rights. Gender equality also fared well with a score of 9.1, with income equality coming in slightly lower with 7.5.

2. Denmark

The Scandinavian country of Denmark scored a perfect 10 in income equality

In 2018, Denmark was ranked number 1 in the Best Countries List, thanks to its forward-thinking stance on gender equality and human rights. With a highly progressive government and equitable societal structure, Denmark offers its citizens flexible parental leave, universal health care and mostly free higher education.

This time around, the Scandinavian country boasts 9.4 in human rights, 9.1 in gender equality, and impressively, a perfect 10 in income equality. 

1. Sweden

Sweden has a long-standing commitment to human rights, public service and sustainability

One of the largest countries in the European Union, Sweden takes the top spot with its long-standing commitment to human rights, public service and sustainability. Like other Nordic nations, healthcare and college education are completely free in Sweden, while women make up 46% of the parliament and 50% of the government’s cabinet.

According to the rankings, Sweden has the most all-round progressive attitude, with a 9.6 score for gender equality, 9.8 for human rights, and 9.9 for income equality. It also achieved a perfect 10 for its progressive citizenship. 

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Images: Getty