Iceland Is the Still Best Place to Live if You're a Woman


If you’re the type of person who makes choices according to the New York Times Travel section, you already knew Iceland was too hot to handle. The country’s got some other notable qualities besides being a hip place to visit right now: it’s held its position as the most egalitarian place for women to live for the fifth year in a row.

According to this year’s Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, Iceland holds firm to its number one spot, as several other Nordic countries did with their positions; Iceland is still followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden, in that order. Those four countries have been bumping around the top positions for many years now, with little change. The United States stayed at 23, the same position it had last year.

Image via the Global Gender Gap Report 2013

Signs for countries overall were more uplifting. The number of nations with widening gaps is down from last year as well and the number with narrowing gaps is up. 65% of countries were marked as “improving” and 35% as “deteriorating.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, North American nations are, on a whole, doing the best with regards to decreasing their gender gap, while Middle Eastern and African nations are having the hardest time, largely due to economic and educational opportunities. Asian and the Pacific is the worst region of the world to be a woman with regards to health.

A big part of the positive vibes going on in the many Nordic countries with high ranking scores can be attributed to their incredibly high literacy rates and the fact that “women now make up the majority of the high-skilled workforce,” the study reports. Economic participation and opportunities continue to make it possible for women to have that always necessary home-work balance, plus, their law that publicly traded companies must have boards that are 40% men and 40% women has certainly helped:

…the labour force participation rates for women are among the highest in the world; salary gaps between women and men are among the lowest in the world, although not non-existent; and women have abundant opportunities to rise to positions of leadership. These patterns vary across the Nordic countries, but, on the whole, these economies have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in high female employment, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and in some cases a boost to declining fertility rates. Policies in some of these countries include mandatory paternal leave in combination with maternity leave, generous federally mandated parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives, and post-maternity re-entry programmes.

Yes, Iceland is still very hot right now, despite (or because of?) all that sexy volcanic activity.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 [World Economic Forum]

Image via Jon Gustafsson/AP

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