The 21 best countries in the world to live in if you’re a woman

The US comes in at 16th place.

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The US comes in at 16th place.
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mangostock / Shutterstock

Denmark has overtaken Sweden as the best country in the world to live in for women, according to a 2018 ranking from US News & World Report.

Ahead of International Women’s Day last March, the media organisation surveyed more than 9,000 women as part of its wider Best Countries ranking in order to determine which of 80 countries around the globe are the best for women to live in.

The full 2018 Best Countries List surveyed 21,000 business leaders, informed elites, and general citizens to discover how 80 countries are perceived on a global scale for a range of criteria, from economic influence to citizenship and quality of life.

The Best Countries for women were given a score out 10 on these five attributes: Human rights, gender quality, income equality, progress, and safety.

Scroll down to see the 21 best countries in the world to live in if you’re a woman, ranked in ascending order.


21. Poland. This right-leaning country is slightly lacking across all scores, with just 0.8 for income equality and 2.5 for progression, but its average scores of 5.3 for gender equality and 5.3 for human rights gave it a spot on this list.

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People gather to protest against plans to further restrict abortion laws in front of the Parliament in Warsaw
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Omer Messinger / Getty

20. Portugal. This Western European nation has struggled financially, and income equality remains low (1.3). However, it’s relatively safe (7.3), with an above average score on human rights (6.2).

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A girl carries a flag during the LGBT march in Lisbon, Portugal, June 18 2016.
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Pedro/Creative Commons

19. Italy. The home of art, wine, and good food had mediocre scores for gender equality (5.8), progression (4.20), and human rights (6.2), but female unemployment is still a huge concern.

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RossHelen / Shutterstock

18. Spain. Unemployment continues to be an issue in Spain, with income inequality at just 1.4. However, the country is making strides on gender equality (6.4) and human rights (6.2).

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Marco Luzzani / Stringer / Getty Images

17. Japan. One of the most technically advanced nations, Japan scored a perfect 10 on progression. However, it has ways to go in terms of gender quality, scoring a shocking 0.7, with only 3.1 for human rights.

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Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

16. United States. Income inequality is one of the challenges still faced by the US, with a score of just 1.4. However, the North American powerhouse manages to be highly progressive (8.8), with a decent gender equality score (7.6).

The US comes in at 16th place.

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mangostock / Shutterstock

15. Ireland. Considered to be a conservative society, Ireland scored poorly on progression at just 3.6, and its income equality came in at just 3.6 — but its human rights score (8.1) helped it move up the ranks.

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Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

14. France. This Western European nation has plenty of influence on the world, and was one of the first countries to champion the rights of the individual. It scores highly on gender equality and human rights, but poorly on income equality at 2.4


13. United Kingdom. With a female Prime Minister, the UK scored well on gender equality (8.5) and human rights (9). However, income equality is shockingly low, at just 2.8.

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Leon Neal / Getty

12. Austria. This Central European country is packed with culture and boasts a high standard of living, as well as decent scores on human rights and gender equality. However, income equality has a way to go, with a score of just 5.5.

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11. Luxembourg. The wealthiest country in the European Union with the highest standard of living and a strong score for human rights, Luxembourg only scored a 6.9 for gender equality, a 5.4 for progression, and a 6.2 for income equality.

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Alexey Fedorenko / Shutterstock

10. Germany. The country ranked highly for its score on progression — 9.2 — and a decent 8.2 score on human rights, but only received a 7.6 on gender equality.


9. New Zealand. In 2017, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led the progressive Labour party to victory and became the youngest female leader in the world. However, the country only received a 7.6 for gender equality.

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8. Australia. With a high life expectancy for both men and women, Australia scored 9.1 out of 10 for human rights, but a slightly lower score of 8.4 for gender equality.

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7. Switzerland. The best country in the world overall, according to the ranking, this neutral, peaceful country scored a 9 out of 10 on gender equality.

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6. Canada. The North American country champions diversity, and ranked highly for human rights and gender equality.

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Alison Millington

5. Finland. The first country to offer unrestricted rights for women to vote and be elected in Parliament, Finland is one of the most welcoming environments for women.

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KIRAYONAK YULIYA / Shutterstock

4. Netherlands. The Dutch have managed to narrow the gender gap across health, education, economy, and politics, providing benefits such as a maternity nurse to mothers.

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Rutger Hollander

3. Norway. Coming in third out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, generous maternity leave policies are just one of the reason’s Norway is one of the most gender-equal nations in the world.

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2. Sweden. Falling one position from its top spot in 2017, Swedes have the most progressive attitudes towards gender equality, according to a report from YouGov.

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1. Denmark. Scoring top marks for human rights and gender equality, the progressive Scandinavian country boasts an earnings-related day care system and one of the most flexible parental leave policies in Europe.

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