Where is the best place in Europe for women?

Where is the best place in Europe for women?
By Chris Harris
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Italy has a bigger gender gap than Nicaragua, Mozambique and Botswana, a major new study reveals.

Women are worse off in Europe’s fourth largest economy when it comes to economic factors and political empowerment, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Its gender gap index reveals Nordic countries are the best places for women to live.

Iceland, for the sixth year running, topped the global chart, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Economic powerhouse Germany came 12th, let down, like many countries, by women’s participation in politics.

Croatia, 55th in the 142-country index, was one of just six nations whose gender gaps have grown since 2005, when WEF began measuring.

WEF compiled the table after analysing economic factors, health, education and political participation.

It concluded, at the current rate of progress, we’ll have to wait 81 years for gender parity in the workplace.


Global gender gap rankings in Europe | Create Infographics


Italy, 69th in the list, is struggling partly because of its score for women’s involvement in politics.

The WEF, which says Italy has a 75 percent gap to make up in this area, looked at the number of women in its parliament and ministerial positions. Countries also scored points if they have had a female head of state over the last half-a-century.


This table shows economic and political gender gaps in Europe.

A figure of 60% signals a country has a 40% gender gap to close.

EconomicPoliticalNorway0.840.54Iceland0.820.66Denmark0.810.43Sweden0.800.50Finland0.790.62Latvia0.790.30Slovenia0.780.22Switzerland0.780.37Belgium0.760.40Ireland0.750.41Luxembourg0.750.21Ukraine0.750.10Germany0.740.40Lithuania0.740.17Bulgaria0.730.28Portugal0.720.21Estonia0.710.12Montenegro0.710.10Netherlands0.710.41United Kingdom0.710.27France0.700.35Croatia0.680.18Poland0.680.16Romania0.680.12Austria0.670.26Hungary0.670.06Serbia0.670.20Cyprus0.660.07Albania0.650.18Macedonia0.650.17Spain0.650.31Greece0.640.10Czech Republic0.620.09Italy0.570.25Malta0.570.15 Source: World Economic Forum

Italy’s lower house, or Chamber of Deputies, has 630 seats, of which 31.4% are held by women, according to latest figures from the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The country, currently led by Matteo Renzi, has never had a female prime minister.

Renzi appointed eight females to his 16-strong cabinet earlier this year but they faced criticism over their dress sense, confirmation for some that Italy's view of women was years out of date.

Italy’s economic score dropped in 2014, compared with a year earlier. It scores particularly poorly in the “wage equality for similar work” category, where it’s ranked 129th globally.



Iceland, top of the index since 2009, has eradicated gender gaps in education and it’s close to doing so in health, too, according to the report.

It tops the global index in terms of women’s participation in politics, helped by having a female prime minister for 20 of the past 50 years.

Meanwhile, nearly 40 percent of Iceland’s lower parliament is taken up by women. They are given a help into politics by political parties who employ a quota system for females.


The United Kingdom, which has dropped eight places compared with 2013, has a low score for women’s empowerment in politics.

Just over one-in-five MPs are female, according to IPU, who rank the UK 64th globally.


David Cameron has just five women in his cabinet, but the UK’s ranking will have been helped by the reign ofMargaret Thatcher, the country’s first and only female prime minister.


The statement released alongside the report, analysing Europe, said: “Of the region’s major economies, Germany climbs two places to 12th, France leaps from 45th to 16th, while the UK falls eight places to 26th.

“France’s gain is mostly due to increases in the number of women in politics, including 49% women ministers – one of the highest ratios in the world, and narrowing wage gaps. The UK’s lower position can be mainly attributed to changes in income estimates.”


  • The United States came 20th in the rankings, China 87 and India 114.
  • Chad, Pakistan and Yemen were bottom.
  • The Phillipinnes is Asia’s highest ranking country.
  • Kuwait is the highest ranking Arab country.

Report author Saadia Zahidi said: “We’re trying to see if women have the same rights and opportunities as men regardless of whether they are in rich or poor countries.

“People and their talents is the key resource that drives most economies but the benefits of gender equality go beyond the economic case. Women are one half of the world’s population. They deserve equal access to health, education, earning potential and political empowerment because ultimately gender equality is a vital part of human progress.”

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