How does the rest of the world stack up when it comes to gender equality? The World Economic Forum (WEF) describes the current state of affairs as complicated. According to the most recent assessment on the global gender gap, the needle is going in the right direction, although slowly. According to the findings of the report, it will take 131 years to achieve full parity between women and men (the report does not take into account non-binary or other identities). This estimate does not take into consideration other identities. And to this day, not a single nation has reached complete gender parity.
There is a large amount of variety, despite the fact that countries in Europe and North America generally perform better than the rest of the globe. In terms of closing the gender gap, the United States ranks 43rd, behind nations such as Colombia, Belarus, Liberia, and Cabo Verde. The gender gap in the United States is less than 75% closed. Both Australia (77.8%) and Canada (77%) were placed in the 30th position, with Australia being between Mozambique and Chile and Canada being between Slovenia and Barbados.
The report takes into consideration things like women’s economic participation (including gender gaps in income, employment, and leadership roles), educational attainment (with measures like literacy rates and educational enrolment), health and survival (such as life expectancy), and political empowerment (female representation in parliament, ministerial positions, and years with a male or female head of state).
In light of these findings, which regions have the highest levels of success, and how do women feel about the quality of life there? BBC Travel conducted interviews with locals and long-term expatriates in four of the countries that were voted highest to gain a deeper understanding of what it is like to visit or relocate to these places.
The nation of Iceland
The World Economic Forum (WEF) rankings place Iceland at the top spot for the fourteenth year in a row. The gender gap in Iceland is projected to be 91.2% closed. It is the only country in the world to have reduced the difference by more than 90 percent.
But whether or not things look up entirely depends on the perspective you take. The World Economic Forum report places Iceland at the top of the list for political empowerment. This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that roughly 25 of the last 50 years have seen a female head of state and the fact that 48% of Iceland’s parliament members are female. But in terms of educational achievement, it ranks 79th, and in terms of female health and survival, it is 128th.
According to Hulda Tolgyes, a psychologist from Iceland, the picture is more convoluted on a day-to-day basis, even when it comes to statistics where Iceland does well, such as the salary gap. Because to laws passed in 2018 mandating that businesses with more than 25 employees must give equal pay for equal labor (or risk facing daily fines), the salary gap between men and women in Iceland is far smaller than it is in the majority of other countries. However, Tolgyes claims that she is routinely offered a smaller amount of money for speaking fees than her husband, even when they are both offered by the same firm. Because this occurs so frequently, Tolgyes feels that it must be due to sexism on the part of the organization.
She stated, “It’s very frustrating for me as a feminist to see how things really are around here,” and she was right. “There was a woman in the presidency. There is a woman serving as our prime minister. But what I see are worn-out and exhausted women who are told that they can be everything to everyone.
Nevertheless, Icelandic women have a lot of positive things to say about their country. First Lady Eliza Reid, a Canadian emigrant to Iceland who wrote the book Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World, has made the observation that her daughter has her surname, not her father’s, and that her husband took several months of paternity leave for each of their children, for example. Mrs. Reid is the author of the book Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World. Along with Tolgyes, she feels that the country has a long way to go – it isn’t a “gender paradise”. Nevertheless, she states in her article that it is a “society in which women are treated on par with men, or at the very least, the intention to do so exists.”
There are a number of other advantages to living in Iceland, which are applicable to people of both sexes. For example, it has been ranked as both one of the happiest countries in the world and the most peaceful.
The World Economic Forum’s 2023 rankings place Norway in second place, with an estimated 87.9 percent closure of the worldwide gender gap. Additionally, it came in first place on the Women Peace and Security Index for the year 2021.
According to Thea Ringseth, a native Norwegian who has spent time living in a number of cities around the country, including Oslo and Trondheim, the exceptional performance should not come as a surprise. “Gender equality is quite visible in Norway,” she remarked. “Norway is a very progressive country.” “There are a lot of female leaders in government and other key positions, and our prime minister, who has held that position for the last eight years, is a woman.” “There are a lot more women in positions where they usually used to be men.” In particular, Norway has the highest proportion of women serving in ministerial posts of any country in the world.
Aside from politics, Norway excels in a variety of other areas, including the literacy rate of females (it ranks first), the number of females working in professional and technical occupations (also first), and income parity (it ranks sixth).
It goes without saying that Norway has not yet achieved complete gender equality, and this is something that is still reflected in the views of society. According to Ringseth, “it is expected that if your child is sick, for example, the mother will usually stay home,” and this is the case in most families. “However, I do not believe that these things are particularly Norwegian.”
Ringseth, in the meantime, places a high value on ensuring that all inhabitants of Norway have the freedom and authority to pursue their goals. “It isn’t frowned upon to further your needs, your education, your career, your social and economic needs [as a woman],” she said. “As a society, this isn’t something that is frowned upon.” “Having a strong desire to succeed in one’s career and having ambition are both regarded as positive qualities,”
New Zealand (n.fr.)
The World Economic Forum’s overall report places New Zealand in fourth place, making it the best performing nation in the Southern Hemisphere. It is particularly successful in terms of political representation, as fifty percent of its parliament members are women, and the number of females enrolling in basic and secondary education is almost on par with the number of males.
Professor Jessica Vredenburg is originally from Canada but has called New Zealand home since 2016. She currently teaches marketing at Auckland University of Technology. She shared her observations, “In my experience, at least in the business school, the gender split is really quite even,” which you can read more about here. “In our marketing department… it’s possible that we have a higher percentage of women than men. A woman serves as my dean. The vast majority of my coworkers are women. She can not recall ever having had employment possibilities that were less than equal to those available to her male peers.
Obviously, much like the rest of the world, New Zealand has a lot of room for improvement. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), women earn an average of $33,620 per year, while men earn an average of $52,370 per year. In terms of income equality for equal effort, this country ranks 37th. In addition, the country ranks 109th in the world when it comes to the life expectancy of its female citizens. According to the statistics, the indigenous population of Mori is at a greater danger than other populations. The life expectancy of Mori women is about seven years lower than that of non-Mori women.
According to Vredenburg, “someone who comes from a Mori or Pacific Island background may have had a very different experience than I did.”
Residents of New Zealand have a positive outlook on the country for a variety of reasons, including gender equality. One aspect is the natural splendor of the area, which includes both the mountains and the coastline. Another advantage is the location’s compact size and uncomplicated layout. The atmosphere is also something to consider. “It’s really easygoing, quite laid back, and has a certain cool vibe to it. “It’s the kind of culture where friends and family get together for barbecues and gatherings, and I quite enjoy that,” Vredenburg said. “They really enjoy their sport and getting together.”
According to estimates, Namibia has closed the gender gap by 80.2%, which places it in eighth place among the top 10 countries. Namibia is the only African country to make the list. That places it higher than a great number of nations located in other regions of the world, including the United Kingdom (15th, 79.2%), Spain (18th, 79.1%), Canada (30th, 77%), and the United States (43rd, 74.8%).
According to Penohole Brock, a Namibian gender sensitivity trainer working for the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, the rating of the nation makes perfect sense. “A significant number of our ministers are women. The majority of our ambassadors are people of the feminine gender. According to what she has said, “it’s been a very healthy work environment in that sense.” “And my work colleagues, I would say, do not face discrimination when it comes to career trajectory,” she continued.
Nevertheless, representation is only one component of the problem. “The achievement of gender parity is a significant advance in the right direction. “But now that we’ve reached this point, it’s time to examine and investigate, ‘Okay, but then what are these female voices advocating for?'” she added. “We still have quite a long way to go” in terms of gender-based violence and sexual harassment, as the expression goes. According to the Women’s Peace and Security Index for 2021, for instance, Namibia was ranked 95th, falling below other African nations such as Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, and Ghana.
Brock, on the other hand, who has not only lived in South Africa but also in Paris, claims that she would not want to be anywhere else. I adore the atmosphere, especially the people, the music, and the excitement. It covers such a wide range. “Every region is so unique in its own way,” she remarked. “There is a lot of untapped potential in Namibia. It’s a beautiful spot in the world.”