In Which Countries Are Women Most Equal To Men?

0 South Africa copy
In Which Countries Are Women Most Equal To Men? RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty Images

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its annual Global Gender Gap Report, revealing that, on average, there is still a 32 percent gap when it comes to gender disparity worldwide.

The report looks at the relative gaps between women and men across health, education, economy and politics in 149 countries. They found that, globally, women were just at 68 percent parity with men, although the gap has closed slightly since 2017. Some 89 of the 144 countries covered both this year and last year registered improvements in equality.

Despite having the highest GDP on earth, the U.S. scores abysmally in the rankings; it moved down two places to 51st place, just below Mexico and Mozambique. While the U.S. performed better than average for the economic participation ranking, it did particularly badly on the political empowerment indices, coming in at 98th place—just below Pakistan.

The report has been released annually since 2006, when the U.S. was 23rd in the overall rankings. Since then, it's managed to close the gap by less than five percent, during which time it's been overtaken by a number of different nations.

However, the report did highlight an area where the U.S. shone—it has the highest share of female professionals with AI skills as relative to men than any other nation.

The report looks solely at the disparity between men and women in the same country, meaning that poorer nations, which nonetheless distribute their resources more equitably between women and men, score higher than richer, more unequal countries. Rwanda, for example, comes sixth overall, despite a GDP far lower than the Nordic countries joining it near the top of the rankings.

In a preface to the report, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab notes that gender equality is crucial in preparing for the future. As new technologies emerge, he writes, "societies cannot afford to lose out on the skills, ideas and perspectives of half of humanity to realize the promise of a more prosperous and human-centric future that well-governed innovation and technology can bring."

These are the top 20 nations that have got the furthest in erasing the gender gap, ensuring a fairer society for their citizens. Each nation has a score between 0 and 1, with 0 representing total inequality, and 1 representing total equality.

1 SWITZERLAND
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

20. Switzerland—Score (0-1): 0.755

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 34
  • Educational attainment ranking: 80
  • Health and survival ranking: 108
  • ​Political empowerment ranking: 29
2 South Africa
RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty Images

19. South Africa—Score (0-1): 0.755

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 91
  • Educational attainment ranking: 72
  • Health and survival ranking: 1
  • Political empowerment ranking: 17
3 bulgaria
DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

18. Bulgaria—Score (0-1): 0.756

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 50
  • Educational attainment ranking: 87
  • Health and survival ranking: 42
  • Political empowerment ranking: 25
4 Latvia
ILMARS ZNOTINS/AFP/Getty Images

17. Latvia—Score (0-1): 0.758

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 10
  • Educational attainment ranking: 1
  • Health and survival ranking: 1
  • Political empowerment ranking: 42
5 Canada
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

16. Canada—Score (0-1): 0.771

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 27
  • Educational attainment ranking: 1
  • Health and survival ranking: 104
  • Political empowerment ranking: 21
6 United Kingdom
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

15. United Kingdom—Score (0-1): 0.774

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 52
  • Educational attainment ranking: 38
  • Health and survival ranking: 110
  • Political empowerment ranking: 11
7 Germany
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

14. Germany—Score (0-1): 0.776

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 36
  • Educational attainment ranking: 97
  • Health and survival ranking: 85
  • Political empowerment ranking: 12
8 Denmark
HENNING BAGGER/AFP/Getty Images

13. Denmark—Score (0-1): 0.778

  • Economic participation and opportunity ranking: 38
  • Educational attainment ranking: 1
  • Health and survival ranking: 100
  • Political empowerment ranking: 15