The Best (And Worst) Places To Be A Woman in 2012

By @MarkJohansonIBT on
  • Best Place To Be A Woman: Iceland
    More than anywhere else, Iceland has the greatest equality between men and women when taking into account education, politics, employment, and health indicators. WORST: Yemen REUTERS/Bob Strong
  • Best Place To Be A Politician: Rwanda
    Rwanda is the only nation where females make up the majority of parliamentarians, holding 45 of 80 seats. WORST: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, and Belize REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
  • Best Place For High-Skilled Jobs: Jamaica
    This Caribbean nation has the highest ratio of women in high-skilled jobs, such as legislators, managers, and senior officials. WORST: Yemen REUTERS/Hans Deryk
  • Best Place To Go To University: Qatar
    The women of Qatar outnumber their male counterparts by a 6-to-1 ratio in tertiary education. WORST: Chad REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad
  • Best Place To Live Long: Japan
    With a life expectancy of 87, women in Japan live seven years longer than do men there. WORST: Lesotho REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
  • Best Place To Be An Athlete: United States
    Five of the 10 highest-paid female athletes in 2011 hailed from the United States. WORST: Saudi Arabia REUTERS
  • Best Place To Read And Write: Lesotho
    The literacy rate among women in Lesotho far exceeds that among men, with 95 percent of women able to read and write. WORST: Ethiopia REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
  • Best Place To Leave Your Husband: Guam
    This Micronesian island has the highest divorce rate in the world! WORST: Guatemala REUTERS
  • Best Place To Be Top Dog: Thailand
    Thailand has the greatest proportion of women in senior management positions. WORST: Japan REUTERS/Patrick de Noirmont
  • No. 9 Friendliest Nation: Denmark
    The women of Denmark spend just 57 more minutes each day on unpaid work than men, the lowest in the member nations in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. WORST: Mexico [For a look at the entire list of bests and worsts, visit The Independent’s Web site.] REUTERS
1 of 10

To celebrate the 101st International Women's Day on March 8, The Independent on Sunday surveyed the globe for the best and worst places to be a woman -- and the results may surprise.

International Women's Day is a day that celebrates the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. In several nations such as Bulgaria, China, Russia, and Vietnam, International Women's Day is celebrated as a national holiday. First observed in 1911, the day honors the work of suffragettes, celebrates women's success, and reminds all of inequities that are still to be redressed.

The Independent surveyed women's status around the world based on 20 criteria from living long to being a lady of leisure. In many cases, the results may challenge your preconceived notions of certain countries.

Some results will make you cringe, while others are cause for celebration. Either way, the survey highlights moral issues that mimic the progress of overall human rights within society.

Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and current executive director of UN Women, noted in her closing remarks at the 2011 session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations that there are still several wide gaps that need to be addressed: Education and equal access and participation in science and technology for women of all ages are not only imperative for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women -- they are also an economic necessity, providing women with the knowledge and understanding necessary for lifelong learning, employment, better physical and mental health, as well as full participation in social, economic, and political development.

The global gender gap defies easy solutions. Eighty-five percent of countries have improved conditions for women over the past six years, according to the World Economic Forum. However, there is still a long road ahead in both political and economic terms.

Press Start to look at 10 key findings on the status of women in 2012.

Join the Discussion