Best countries for gender equality – ranked

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A global ranking of the best countries for gender equality, measured by the relative gaps between women and men in health, education, economy and politics.

A map of the best countries for gender equality
The best countries for gender equality (WEForum)

First published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum, the Global Gender Gap Index measures gender equality in 153 countries by tracking and ranking a range of gender-based gaps across society.

Now in its 14th year, the report is compiled by drawing on data from the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the OECD and UNESCO.

The report calculates gender-based gaps using four key dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity; Educational Attainment; Health and Survival; Political Empowerment.

The index also tracks progress towards closing gender-based gaps over time and makes regional comparisons.


Assessing the gender gap enables the index to compare rich and poor countries on an equal footing. It is the disparity between genders that is being measured rather than the baseline quality of living.

10 best and worst countries for gender equality

These are the best and worst countries for gender equality. The Nordic states have consistently performed strongly since the report was first produced in 2006.

Best

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Nicaragua
  6. New Zealand
  7. Ireland
  8. Spain
  9. Rwanda
  10. Germany

Worst

  1. Yemen
  2. Iraq
  3. Pakistan
  4. Syria
  5. DR Congo
  6. Iran
  7. Chad
  8. Saudi Arabia
  9. Lebanon
  10. Oman

Key findings

  • Iceland remains the world’s most gender-equal country for the 11th time in a row.
  • The global top 10 features seven European countries, one country from the Americas, one from East Asia and the Pacific and one country from Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Western Europe is the best performing region for the 14th consecutive year.
  • The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the worst-performing region, despite having narrowed its gap by 0.5 points since last year.
  • The USA (53) and Canada (19) have both stalled, particularly in terms of economic participation and opportunity. At the current rate, it will take 151 years to close the gap.
  • Spain, Ethiopia, Mexico and Georgia improved the most since last year, all increasing their positions by more than 20 places.
  • Recent global improvements can largely be ascribed to a significant increase in the number of women in politics.
  • However, in the past 50 years, 85 states have had no female head of state.
  • Globally, only 55% of women (aged 15-64) are engaged in the labour market as opposed to 78% of men.
  • In 72 countries women are barred from opening bank accounts or obtaining credit.
  • There is no country where men spend the same amount of time on unpaid work as women. In countries where the ratio is lowest, it is still 2:1.

Closing the gap

According to the current trajectory, global gender parity will take 99.5 years. This is an improvement on the previous year when the gap was calculated to take 108 years.


However, it still means parity between men and women across all dimensions – health, education, work and politics – will take more than a lifetime to achieve.

Some regions are making better progress than others in regards to gender parity.

  1. Western Europe will achieve gender parity in 54 years.
  2. Latin America and the Caribbean in 59 years.
  3. South Asia in 71.5 years.
  4. Sub-Saharan Africa in 95 years.
  5. Eastern Europe and Central Asia in 107 years.
  6. Middle East and North Africa in 140 years.
  7. North America in 151 years.
  8. East Asia and the Pacific in 163 years.
Top 10s (WEForum)

Best countries for gender equality – complete ranking

The table below ranks the best countries for gender equality by the score they achieved in the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum.

The highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest possible score is 0 (inequality). Some countries have been omitted due to insufficient data.

RankCountryScore 2018 ±
1Iceland0.877
2Norway0.842
3Finland0.8321
4Sweden0.820–1
5Nicaragua0.804
6New Zealand0.7991
7Ireland0.7982
8Spain0.79521
9Rwanda0.791–3
10Germany0.7874
11Latvia0.7856
12Namibia0.784–2
13Costa Rica0.7829
14Denmark0.782–1
15France0.781–3
16Philippines0.781–8
17South Africa0.7802
18Switzerland0.7792
19Canada0.772–3
20Albania0.76914
21UK0.767–6
22Colombia0.75818
23Moldova0.75712
24Trinidad & Tobago*0.756n/a
25Mexico0.75425
26Estonia0.7517
27Belgium0.7505
28Barbados0.749–7
29Belarus0.746–1
30Argentina0.7466
31Cuba0.746–8
32Burundi0.745–1
33Lithuania0.745–9
34Austria0.74419
35Portugal0.7442
36Slovenia0.743–25
37Uruguay0.73719
38Netherlands0.736–11
39Serbia0.736–1
40Poland0.7362
41Jamaica0.7353
42Bolivia0.734–17
43Laos0.731–17
44Australia0.731–5
45Zambia*0.731n/a
46Panama0.730–1
47Zimbabwe0.730
48Ecuador0.729–7
49Bulgaria0.727–31
50Bangladesh0.726–2
51Luxembourg0.72510
52Cape Verde0.72520
53USA0.724–2
54Singapore0.72413
55Romania0.7248
56Mozambique0.723–7
57Chile0.723–3
58Honduras0.72210
59Ukraine0.7216
60Croatia0.720–1
61Bahamas0.720–31
62Madagascar0.71922
63Slovakia0.71820
64Israel0.718–18
65Uganda0.717–22
66Peru0.714–14
67Venezuela0.713–3
68Tanzania0.7133
69Bosnia Herz.0.712–7
70North Macedonia0.711–4
71Montenegro0.710–2
72Kazakhstan0.710–12
73Botswana0.709–18
74Georgia0.70825
75Thailand0.708–2
76Italy0.707–6
77Suriname0.7072
78Czech Rep.0.7064
79Mongolia0.706–21
80El Salvador0.7067
81Russia0.706–6
82Ethiopia0.70535
83Eswatini0.703–3
84Greece0.701–6
85Indonesia0.700
86Dominican Rep.0.700–12
87Vietnam0.700–10
88Lesotho0.695–7
89Cambodia0.6944
90Malta0.6931
91Cyprus0.6921
92Brazil0.6913
93Kyrgyzstan0.689–7
94Azerbaijan0.6873
95Brunei Darussalam0.686–5
96Cameroon0.686–39
97Liberia0.685–1
98Armenia0.684
99Senegal0.684–5
100Paraguay0.6834
101Nepal0.6804
102Sri Lanka0.680–2
103Fiji0.6783
104Malaysia0.677–3
105Hungary0.677–3
106China0.676–3
107Ghana0.673–18
108South Korea0.6727
109Kenya0.671–33
110Belize0.6711
111Sierra Leone0.6683
112India0.668–4
113Guatemala0.666–6
114Myanmar0.665–26
115Mauritius0.665–6
116Malawi0.664–4
117Timor-Leste0.6627
118Angola0.6607
119Benin0.658–1
120UAE0.6551
121Japan0.652–11
122Kuwait0.6504
123Maldives0.646–10
124Tunisia0.644–5
125Guinea0.642–9
126Vanuatu*0.638n/a
127Papua New Guinea*0.635n/a
128Nigeria0.6355
129Burkina Faso0.635
130Turkey0.635
131Bhutan0.635–9
132Algeria0.634–4
133Bahrain0.629–1
134Egypt0.6291
135Qatar0.629–8
136Gambia0.628–16
137Tajikistan0.626–14
138Jordan0.623
139Mali0.6214
140Togo0.615–6
141Mauritania0.614–5
142Côte d’Ivoire0.606–11
143Morocco0.605–6
144Oman0.602–5
145Lebanon0.599–5
146Saudi Arabia0.599–5
147Chad0.596–2
148Iran0.584–6
149DR Congo0.578–5
150Syria0.567–4
151Pakistan0.564–3
152Iraq0.530–5
153Yemen0.494–4
*New countries for 2020

Source: Global Gender Gap Report 2020, World Economic Forum