7 Countries That Have More Gender Equality Than You Probably Thought, According To The World Economic Forum Gender Inequality Report

If you've ever tried to talk about gender inequality in America, chances are someone has told you, in some form or other, that at least things are better in the United States than they are in other countries. This may be true for some nations; however, according to the World Economic Forum and their latest gender gap report, the United States is actually lagging pretty far behind when it comes to gender equality. In fact, it might surprise you which countries rank ahead of us.

The World Economic Forum ranks countries based on how women's achievement compares with men's in four broad areas: health, education, economic opportunity, and political representation. And it seems no country on Earth has yet managed to achieve full equality across all areas. In fact, the overall gap has only decreased by about four percent in the past ten years — which means at this rate it will take 118 years before women achieve full equality with men.

Of course, for some countries, that day will presumably arrive sooner than for others. Unsurprisingly, the Nordic countries top the World Economic Forum rankings — it is a lot easier to focus on gender inequality in an affluent, peaceful country that has a relatively small and relatively homogenous population, after all, and the Nordic states have a long history of being progressive on gender issues.

However, some of the other front-runners in the race to equality for women might surprise you. Here are seven countries most people might not expect to be ahead of the United State, but actually are.

1. Rwanda


Rwanda is ranked six out of the 145 countries included on the list, and ranks first in world when it comes to wage equality and the ratio of girls versus boys enrolled in primary school. They are also leaps and bounds ahead of the United States when it comes to women in political leadership — in fact, women outnumber men in the Rwandan Parliament, and the country has had a female head of state in the past.

2. Philippines


The Philippines are seventh in the world overall, and ties for first place in several categories, including ratio of women to men among professional workers, equality in literacy rates, and health and life expectancy for women in comparison to men. They have also had a female head of state in the past.

3. New Zealand


You might think of New Zealand as "that place where Lord of the Rings was filmed," but it turns out living there in real life has lots of perks. New Zealand is 10th in the world for women's overall equality, and outpaces the United States in terms of women's economic, educational, and political opportunity.

4. Nicaragua

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Nicaragua might not be in the top 10 when it comes to women's equality, but they still lead the United States by quite a bit. The country is ranked 12th in the world, and has a perfect score when it comes to equal education for women. They also rank in the top 10 for women in ministerial positions in government.

5. Namibia


Namibia ranks 16th in the world for women's equality, and ties for first place for overall equality in education and health. They also significantly outpace the United States in terms of women's political participation.

6. South Africa

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Coming in just behind Namibia, South Africa ranks 17th in the world for women's equality, and is among the top 10 nations in the world when it comes to the number of women in parliament. They also do slightly better than the US when it comes to women's health.

7. Bolivia

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Bolivia is ranked 22nd in the world for women's equality, and is tied for first place for women's health and life expectancy. The country also ranks among the top 10 for women' political participation, and the women in the Bolivian parliament currently outnumber the men.

So where does the United States rank?

Out of the 145 nations in the rankings, the United States comes in 28th. Although we are in the top 10 when it comes to economic participation, we rank 74th in the world in terms of wage equality — which should prove once and for all that the argument of "women making less money is a natural state of affairs" is actually bogus — and 81st for women in parliament. In fact, when it comes to women's overall political participation, we are 72nd in the world. Not a great showing guys.

You can check out the full report, including the country rankings, here. The next time someone tries to tell you how good women have it in the United States, you can show them all the countries that are doing it way better than we are.