This Chart Breaks Down The Best — And The Worst — Countries To Live In If You're A Woman

The United States doesn't even crack the top 20 "best" countries for women.

Women around the world have made tremendous strides in the past several years (just look the recent news out of Saudi Arabia, a country known for its restrictions on women) but there's still much to be done across the globe. Unfortunately, the reality is that women in some countries have a much harder fight ahead of them than women in other locales.

A newly-released index from Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, called the global Women, Peace, and Security Index, used a myriad of different data points to determine the best and worst countries for women around the world today. The result highlights what movements towards equality are meeting with success, and what movements might need some extra support.


Courtesy Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security 

Since "best" and "worst" are subjective terms, it's worth noting what factors were analyzed in compiling the rankings, which you can see in the charts below. As noted in the lengthy report, and echoed by an analysis piece in The Washington Post, the determining factors were inclusion, justice, and security. 

Inclusion refers to whether women are enabled to make their own economic, social and political decisions, and can manifest itself in things like access to employment and education, the ability to own a cell phone, and whether or not they can actively participate in government. Justice measures differences in how women and men are treated under the law, and security is measured within the family, in the community and in society at large.

Using data from organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Gallup World Poll (and not subjective or expert judgments), the data was grouped by region and by country. 

As you can see, Iceland leads the list of "best" countries for women followed closely behind by Norway and Switzerland, while Afghanistan and Syria are tied for last place, followed closely by Yemen.

An interesting point to note is that the United States, where women are traditionally thought to have a great deal of freedom and access to important things like education and healthcare, doesn't even crack doesn't even crack the top 14 "best" countries. Instead, America comes in at a disappointing 22nd overall.

While this might come as a surprise to some, it speaks to a larger pattern that was found when analyzing all of the aforementioned data — certain countries ranked well on two dimensions, but ranked poorly on a third. Though the United States earned high marks in inclusion and justice, for example, the data showed American women aren't nearly as protected from intimate partners as those in other developed nations. The U.S. security ranking took a hit because of high rates of intimate partner violence — which is upwards of ten percentage points above the mean for developed countries.

Unfortunately, the problem of intimate partner violence is something that has been well-documented throughout the United States. Per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime, and one in five women in the United States has been raped in their lifetime. The organization also notes women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

Though this report focuses on regions and countries, it's also worth noting that conditions for women within a certain country may vary, sometimes widely. For more information on the best and worst states for women, click here.


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