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International Women's Day March, Los Angeles, June 28, 2017.
Molly Adams
Girls & Women

These Are the Best and Worst Countries to Be a Woman in 2018


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Gender equality is the backbone of growing economies and societies. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018 found Iceland is this year’s best country to be a woman, and Yemen is the worst. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

The results for this year’s best and worst countries to be a woman are in.

Iceland is the world’s most gender-equal country for the 10th year in a row, and Yemen is the world’s least, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.

In the annual report titled “The Global Gender Gap Report 2018,” researchers measured the discrepancies between women and men across 149 countries in four categories: economic opportunity, political empowerment, education options, health, and survival.

Take Action: Demand Gender Equality: Stand in Unity With Women Worldwide

Norway, Sweden, Finland, Nicaragua, Rwanda, New Zealand, Philippines, Ireland, and Namibia followed Iceland to make up the top 10.

Iceland’s spot on the list doesn’t come as a surprise. In January, the country made the gender pay gap illegal and is known for enforcing many laws that protect women, from strict corporate board inclusion guidelines to generous parental leave. 

Despite women’s rights improvements in various countries, at the current rate “it will take 108 years to close the gender gap across politics, work, health and education, and 202 years to close the workplace gender gap," the report said

The top 10 countries where progress is the slowest include Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan, which ranked as the worst places for gender equality in the world, with Yemen coming in the last place.

The three-year civil war in Yemen has hit women dramatically, leaving 2.9 women and children severely malnourished. Women have had to step into roles that have traditionally been filled by men because so many men have become war casualties, but they’re still not being treated equally. 

More than 3 million Yemeni women and girls are also at risk of gender-based violence. There are 60,000 women are at risk of sexual violence, according to UNFPA, with child marriage playing a huge part — there’s no age limit to define rape in marriage.

Read More: These Are the Most Dangerous Cities for Women

But the World Economic Forum’s new report isn’t meant for pointing fingers. Every country could be doing a better job to promote gender equality. 

The Global Gender Gap is currently 68%, which means there is still a 32% gap to close, according to the World Economic Forum. No country has achieved gender equality and only the top seven countries have closed at least 80% of the gap. 

The report’s results serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. Gender inequality doesn’t only affect women, the entire world’s future depends on it. When gender equality is promoted through girls education for instance, it strengthens economies, stabilizes communities, and protects the planet

“Although progress continues to proceed at a very slow pace,” the report said, “and despite significant heterogeneity across countries’ performances, the fact that most countries are moving toward greater gender parity is encouraging and rewards the efforts of all policy-makers and practitioners across the world that work to achieve the UN’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal: gender equality.” 

See the full best and worst top 10 lists below.

Best Countries for Women in 2018

1. Iceland

2. Norway

3. Sweden

4. Finland

5. Nicaragua

6. Rwanda

7. New Zealand

8. Phillipines

9. Ireland

10. Namibia

Worst Countries for Women in 2018

1. Yemen

2. Pakistan

3. Iraq

4. Syria

5. Chad

6. Democratic Republic of Congo

7. Mali

8. Iran

9. Saudi Arabia

10. Lebanon