The United States Is Not One Of The 20 Best Countries For Women

People swimming in the blue lagoon in icelandPaul Steele/BaldhikerThe famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland

For the past eight years, the World Economic Forum
has rankedmore than 100 countries by measures of gender equality in each. To assess women’s status, researchers examine their political empowerment, health and survival, political participation, and economic equality.

Of the 133 countries that were measured both this and last year, 86% have improved their gender gaps. However, major barriers to women’s equality still exist around the world, particularly when it comes to political participation and economic equality.

For the fifth consecutive year, Iceland comes out on top with the world’s smallest gender gap, powered by a uniquely high level of political empowerment. It’s near the top in terms of the number of women in its Parliament, the number of women in key political positions, and the number of years it’s had a female head of state. Its score got even better this year, as it further closed its gender gap in economic opportunity.

Notably, the United States does not manage to crack the top 20. It ranks at No. 23, down six spots from its 2011 high at No. 17 and down one spot from last year. The U.S. has made no progress in the rankings since they started in 2006.

The U.S. does relatively well in terms of health, education, and economic opportunity (with the notable exception of pay equality), but is in 60th place when it comes to women’s political empowerment, since women hold a small fraction of political clout positions and have no female head of state on record.

Here are the full top 20:

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