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Europe Takes Top Scores for Women's Rights and Opportunities

Sintia Radu

Gender imbalances have long been a point of policy discussions in countries, and with lawmakers focusing on women's representation, rights, and access to services. Yet some countries are still better for women than others, shows new research, and the top 10 are all European.

This week, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute Oslo announced the inaugural 2019-2020 Women, Peace, and Security Index, illustrated by National Geographic magazine. The index ranks 167 countries from best to worst places to be a woman.

According to the research that spans across three metrics -- inclusion, security and justice -- Norway is the best country for women overall. The Scandinavian nation is followed by Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands. The United States ranked 19th on the list.

"The latest data show that some of the worst countries for women have achieved gains, even as some of the best are lagging in crucial areas," writes Eve Conant for the National Geographic in the report published on Tuesday.

Among notable findings in the report:

-- Norway received perfect scores for the security and justice categories, yet the index showed that the country still needs to work on government representation of women, employment of women, as well as level of education. Norway also ranked 4th in the perception-based 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Countries for Women.

-- No country received a perfect score on "Inclusion," which looked at government representation, access to mobile phone, employment, financial access, and education level.

-- Yemen, a country known for its longstanding violations of women's rights, ranked worst in the world, failing in all but one category under "Inclusion." Other countries finishing at the bottom include Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan, yet Afghanistan reported 27% of legislative seats for women, which surpasses the global average.

-- In education, Estonia stood out. Ranked 12th overall, the Baltic nation boasts of an average of 14 years of education for women, about double the global average.

-- Turkmenistan, a country ranking 60th on the global map for women, got a perfect score for security, being deemed safe for women in the household and in the community, as well as reporting low levels of organized crime.

-- The report showed large discrepancies between countries, yet no country got a perfect score, nor ranked 0.

[MORE: Women Are Still Underrepresented in Parliaments Around The World]

Indonesia, ranked as the 10th worst country for gender equality in the perception-based 2019 Best Countries report, finished 95th of 167 in the 2019-2020 Women, Peace, and Security Index, receiving good scores in security and low levels of domestic violence and organized crime involving women. The United Arab Emirates, ranked worst in the world for gender equality in the U.S. News ranking, scored 44th out of 167 countries in the Women, Peace, and Security Index, receiving an almost perfect score in security.



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