The best countries for gender equality have been named – and it’s bad news for Brits

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Kayleigh Dray
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Suffering from wanderlust? You’re not alone; plenty of us are dreaming of spreading our wings and flying overseas to start a new career abroad.

But, if you’re planning to make those dreams a reality, there are plenty of things to consider; from taxes, to wages, to the work-life balance on offer, you need to do a lot of research before picking out your new home.

Pretty high on that list might be your destination’s attitude to gender equality – and the top countries in the world for this particular attribute have just been named.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released their 2016 Global Gender Gap Report, which ranks 145 countries on gender equality.

To do this, they examined how well each country was leveraging their female talent pool, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.

Iceland claimed the top spot; the country boasts an all-female political party, the Women’s Alliance, as well as a parliament that's almost 50% female MPs.

Their maternity policies are also very forward-thinking; both parents receive three-months paid leave that is non-transferable, which has encouraged 90% of Icelandic fathers to take up their paternity leave. As a result, women are able to return to work faster than before – and that’s at their pre-childbirth working hours, too. 

And it’s worth pointing out that the country was recently named the best for working women all over the world.

Norway and Finland followed hot on Iceland’s heels, claiming the second and third spots on the list respectively.

So who else made the top 10?

The 10 best countries for gender equality:

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Ireland
  6. Rwanda
  7. Philippines
  8. Switzerland
  9. Slovenia
  10. New Zealand

The United Kingdom, worryingly didn’t make the list – it crawled in at the 18th spot, thanks to its recent drop in women parliamentarians.

Jemima Olchawski, head of policy and insight at the Fawcett Society, told The Independent: “This report busts the myth that gender inequality is somehow natural or inevitable and highlights how varied performance on closing gender gaps is, across the world, but also within Western Europe.

“It's unacceptable that Britain is languishing at 53rd in the world for economic participation, is only 24th for political empowerment and performs below average overall compared to our region.

“The moral case for gender equality should be enough alone to motivate us to speed up the pace of change, but with evidence suggesting that improving gender equality could add £150 billion to our GDP it's also clear that we simply can't afford to wait.”

Images: iStock


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.