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Norway ranked as best place to be a woman

Rebecca Staudenmaier
October 23, 2019

Women in Norway have the best quality of life according to the latest Women, Peace and Security Index. Although Germany ranked as one of the best in education, women lost significant ground in representation in politics.

The female symbol displayed on purple balloons
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Ruprecht

Although no country garnered a perfect score, the global trends in women's empowerment are "heading in the right direction," according to the latest Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Index that was published Tuesday.

Women's well-being improved in 59 countries since the first index was published in 2017, Researchers at Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute Oslo found.

Norway took the top spot, with a perfect score in women's financial inclusion and making significant gains in women's perception of safety. Switzerland took second place, followed by Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

Yemen was the only country found to have experienced "significant deterioration," and came in last in the ranking, followed by Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and South Sudan.

Areas with armed conflicts or where the security situation worsened also saw a deterioration in women's quality of life, researchers said.

The index gathered data from 167 countries, assessing several variables including employment, security, political representation and access to bank accounts.

Women lose 'significant political ground' in Germany

Germany ranked number 17 on the index along with Portugal, making improvements in women's employment and taking the top spot among developed countries for women's education.

The report noted, however, that Germany was one of the countries where women "lost significant political ground" since the 2017 index.

Iceland, Angola, Slovenia, Germany and Honduras had the largest drops in parliamentary representation.

Currently, only 30.9% of lawmakers in Germany's lower house of parliament are women. The 2017 general election saw the proportion of women in the Bundestag hit a 19-year low.

'Not all doom and gloom'

Although there's still a long way to go to improve the situation for women around the world, this year's WPS index found that the outlook isn't entirely bleak.

"There are important areas of progress. It's not all doom and gloom," Jeni Klugman, managing director of the Georgetown Institute and lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More women have gained access to financial accounts, and several countries scrapped discriminatory laws and increased women's representation in politics.

"A national election can bring about big changes, both positive and negative," Klugman said.

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