I came across a post on Forbes.com entitled “The Top 20 Best Countries for Women“, which I found to be very interesting and quite frankly intriguing as well. It is part of The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 6th annual ranking on gender equality in 2011 and lists what they consider to be the top 20 (out of 135) countries favorable to women.The report measures and ranks women’s economic participation and opportunity, access to education, health and survival rates and political empowerment.
Here are my observations, both expected and unexpected, as I browsed through the list.
1. The top of the list is dominated by Scandinavian countries (EXPECTED)
2. The Philippines ranks highest of all Asian countries. (UNEXPECTED)
3. The Philippines is the only Asian country on the list. (UNEXPECTED)
4. The Philippines ranks higher than the United States. (SOMEWHAT UNEXPECTED)
5. My ignorance about the Philippines is greater than I anticipated. (OK. EXPECTED)
6. Lesotho ranks higher than Switzerland and Germany. (UNEXPECTED)
7. The US ranks number 17. (NOT EXPECTED BUT NOT SURPRISED)
8. Two African countries made it to the list. (UNEXPECTED + PLEASED)
I actually went a step further and looked at the GDP of the countries and the gender ratio of Female-to-Male (ages 15 to 64) for each of those countries. The objective was to try to identify any correlation between the WEFGGR score, the GDP, and the ratio of women vs. men. In other words, were countries with a greater female-to-male ratio within the working age range of 15 to 64 more productive, therefore offering more visibility and better working and living conditions to women?
Other metrics that I could have considered include: the employment or unemployment rate of women vs. men, the literacy rate of women vs. men, the number of women occupying high ranking positions in the private and public sector, certainly religious views, and the list goes on. For simplicity purposes, I decided to focus this analysis on GDP and Gender ratio.
Note: For GDPs, I used 2011 data from the list by the World Bank. Information from the gender ratio for each country was pulled from the CIA World Factbook; a “+” means there were more women than men in the 15 to 64 age group and a “-” means there were more men.
The Top 20 Best Countries For Women as ranked by the World Economic Forum
1. Iceland – Score: 85.3% GDP: $14.06 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: +
2. Norway – Score: 84% GDP: $485.8 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
3. Finland – Score: 83.8% GDP: $266.07 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
4. Sweden – Score: 80.4% GDP: $538.13 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
5. Ireland – Score: 78.3% GDP: $217.28 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
6. New Zealand – Score: 78.1% GDP: $142 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
7. Denmark – Score: 77.8% GDP: $332.68 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: +
8. Philippines – Score: 76.9% GDP: $224.75 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
9. Lesotho – Score: 76.7% GDP: $2.43 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: +
10. Switzerland – Score: 76.3% GDP: $635.65 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
11. Germany – Score: 75.9% GDP: $3.57 Trillion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
12. Spain – Score: 75.8% GDP: $1.49 Trillion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
13. Belgium – Score: 75.3% GDP: $511.53 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
14. South Africa – Score: 74.8% GDP: $408.24 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
15. Netherlands – Score: 74.7% GDP: $836.26 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
16. United Kingdom – Score: 74.6% GDP: $2.43 Trillion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
17. United States – Score: 74.1% GDP: $15.09 Trillion Ratio of Women vs. Men: +
18. Canada – Score: 74.1% GDP: $1.74 Trillion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
19. Latvia – Score: 74% GDP: $28.25 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: +
20. Cuba – Score: 73.9% GDP: $60.81 Billion Ratio of Women vs. Men: –
There does not appear to exist a direct correlation between the World Economic Forum score and gender. Only 25% of the listed countries below had a greater ratio of female-to-male for the 15-to-64 age group. GDP on the other hand was a bit more interesting. Although, the size of the GDP did not seem to play a direct role in the scoring, 55% of the countries that made it on the list had GDPs under $500 billion dollars, including 4 of the top 5. Only 25% of the listed countries had a GDP exceeding a trillion dollars, and the highest ranking they achieved was at number 11 (Germany). This could very well challenge the view that the greater the GDP of a country the better the opportunities for all it’s people, especially women. Not many people would be able to place Lesotho on a map, yet as a woman you’d enjoy better living conditions there than in the United States.
That said, I don’t foresee many American women moving to Lesotho.
p.s. In case you’re wondering, no I didn’t find a “Top 20 Best Countries for Men” – I’m sure they are doing OK.