Norway 'best country in which to be a woman'
Norway has knocked Iceland off the top spot in the latest Women, Peace, and Security Index (Credit: wundervisuals/Getty Images)

Norway has knocked Iceland off the top spot in the latest Women, Peace, and Security Index (Credit: wundervisuals/Getty Images)

Norway is now ranked as the best country in the world in which to be a woman, according to the latest Women, Peace, and Security Index and, while global female emancipation may be a long way off, the report noted women's empowerment trends are "heading in the right direction."

Life has reportedly improved for women in about 60 countries, according to the research compiled by Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Peace Research Institute Oslo. However, conditions for women in war-torn countries including Yemen and Syria have declined, with a deterioration in security negatively affecting 50 nations.

The report focuses on 167 countries, using figures from 2017 – the first year the index was compiled – and considers a variety of indicators that fit inside the broader issues of security, justice, and inclusion for women, including the impact of legal discrimination, employment, and organized violence on women. 

At the top of list were Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, the UK and Luxembourg, with Sweden and the Netherlands coming in joint ninth.

At the bottom were Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Mali and Libya.

Since 2017, broad gains have apparently been made globally in women's well-being, with only Yemen showing an overall decline. Sixty countries showed at least a 5 percent improvement on the index, with eight breaking the 10 percent mark.

China was one of the countries to jump more than 10 places in the index since the last report, moving up to 76th. Improvements in financial inclusion, parliamentary representation, legal reforms, and education were the most important factors affecting countries such as Moldova, Rwanda, and Malaysia that progressed by 10 places. 

Overall, the indicators that showed the most gains for women across the globe were decreases in discriminatory laws, and a boost for female legislative representation and access to financial accounts.

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

"We have a number of countries that boosted the share of women in their national legislatures. We also had several countries that went the other way."

Iceland was knocked of the top spot after recent elections led to a reduction in the number of women in its parliament.

The index is aimed at inspiring action worldwide, with Klugman stressing the areas of focus in the report were central to the United Nations global development goals adopted in 2015. 

"Its not like it's something we invented out of thin air. It's something that is grounded in those long, hard-negotiated agreements, so we're holding them to account for that."

The UN is hoping to achieve global gender equality by 2030.

Source(s): Reuters