Want to live in a world where men and women really are equal? Move to Scandinavia. According to the Global Gender Gap index, Iceland is the most gender-equal country on the planet, followed by Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
The index, released at a news conference here, assesses the 134 countries on how well they divide resources and opportunities between men and women, regardless of income level. It measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political attainment, health and survival.
The United States made a big jump in this year’s rankings, breaking into the top 20 for the first time.
The United States leaped in the rankings from 31st place last year to 19th this year based on very high levels of literacy for both women and men and very high levels of women in primary, secondary, and higher education, with women outstripping men in colleges and universities.
According to the report, the U.S. ranks sixth in the world in terms of economic participation and opportunity for women. The U.S. has significant numbers of women in legislative, managerial, and professional positions.
The Philippines came in at number nine to lead all Asian nations. Trinidad Tobago (20th) led all Caribbean nations, while Lesotho (8th) and Argentina (29th) led Africa and South America, respectively.
Aside from all the problems gender inequality poses with regards to personal rights, it’s also bad news for a country’s economy.
“Low gender gaps are directly correlated with high economic competitiveness,” Klaus Schwab, the forum’s founder and executive chairman, said in a statement. “Women and girls must be treated equally if a country is to grow and prosper.”
Since the study began, 96 percent of health gaps and 93 percent of education gaps have closed. However, only 60 percent of the gaps in economic participation have decreased.
In total, 86 percent of the 134 countries have closed their gender gaps over the last five years, while 14 percent have actually seen the gap widen.