The Best And Worst Places In The World To Be A Woman

This infographic crunches data on maternal health, economic status, education, contraception use, and other factors to show where women are doing well and where their lives can be exceptionally hard.

Click to enlarge, or see the full graphic below.

It’s not particularly easy being a woman in most countries; even in areas where women are presumably seen as equal to men, their pay is often lacking. But that’s just one part of the problem. In some places, women receive minimal education, have a short life expectancy, are likely to lose a child at some point, and don’t have easy access to medical treatment.

In its annual State of the World’s Mothers report, Save the Children compared 165 countries (the majority in the developing world) on progress in maternal health, economic status, education, contraception use, and more.

If you don’t feel like reading through the whole report, The National Post has laid out the findings in an infographic (click to make larger).

Unsurprisingly, the Scandinavian countries that often top quality of life rankings are tops, with longer life expectancies, years in school, more contraception use, a higher percentage of government seats held by women, and a higher ratio of female to male earned income. Among the "More Developed Countries" on the list, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania fare the worst. The U.S. is behind Canada, but ahead of some European countries.

Among the "Less Developed Countries," Israel does the best (though it’s odd that the country isn’t considered more developed). Barbados, Cuba, and Cyprus follow close behind, and Iraq and North Korea rank last (North Korea probably should be in the "Least Developed" category) .

The "Least Developed Countries" fare the worst for women. Bhutan, the top-ranked country on that list, still only has 31% of the population using modern contraception. But Somalia, the country ranked dead last, has only 1% of the population using modern contraception. Women only spend an average of two years in school, and the average life expectancy is 53.

Save the Children offers a number of policy recommendations to alleviate some of these problems. The bottom line: better nutrition education will make a big difference. Obviously, though, there need to be larger systemic changes to really change the place of women in the world.

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  • Swansea Till I Die!

    Once again the stupid Male:Female income ration stat is brought up.

    In most developed countries the real ratio is not far off 1:1 if you compare like jobs/experience/training/performance etc.

    Instead you probably take total figures earned which is meaningless.  I know plenty of men who would be perfectly happy to stay at home and live off of a wife's wages (but cant afford to as both have to work to pay the bills), which would apparently make the country a better place for women in your eyes.

  • Yael

    Israel is definitely not a less developed country... and unfortunately when compared to "more" developed countries it does not fare out as well... just look at the spatial exclusion of women in some ultra-orthodox Jewish communities  

  • Stephen Hale

    I think it's listed here because it seems to include the Palestinian territories. Once those are figured in, it naturally fits in the more developed category.

  • Shyla Patel

    India, isn't in Central or South America. Fact-check your basics before publishing.

  • Nick Routley

    Also, I'm not sure how Albania falls under "more developed countries", but South Korea makes the second tier. Not really a compelling reason to group the countries in that manner, imo.

    Otherwise though, very interesting stats.

  • Steven Leighton

    I agree 100%. A little rich girl on a swing .. is that what someone thinks of when he thinks of best and worst places to be woman?

  • Sabs

    The infographic is indeed terrible. It was, however, compiled by The National Post, not by Co.Exist. 

  • Suki

    This is a TERRIBLE infographic! I'm really appalled at how MAJOR geography mistakes have been made. India in South and Central America? Really?? And the key indicates the colour grey for North America, which in the actual infographic is replaced by purple. It really makes me question the credibility of the data and the categorization of the countries into developed and less developed, etc. Please correct these mistakes ASAP.

  • Sidra Ahmed

    I think there are better indicators that can be chosen besides usage of modern contraception and ratio of male to female held income.
    For example, Bhutan has a pretty egalitarian culture but the women may
    not be receiving actual "cash" for their contributions...that doesn't
    mean those contributions aren't valuable. And while I think it's good to
    have choices in regard to how many children one wants, I don't think it
    is good from a health or evolutionary standpoint to have a high
    proportion of the fertile women pumped full of hormones.

  • Pleiadiance

     Completely agree with this pertinent point.Quality  of life, respect, equality and wellness are defined in more ways and perhaps with deeper impacts to the holistic being, than just counting use of contraception as an indicative factor. While this is a great overall attempt to begin classifying and ranking state of countries for women's wellbeing, it would behoove the data collection and presentation to incorporate local indicators, cultural factors or priority for the women and from those women, to be truly reflective of the absolute relevance of such a graph.
    the effort is of course appreciated, but yet again, it seems the values of the (western) mindset is super imposed on what 'should be considered right or wrong' for cultures and people across a vastly diverse planet and its people. We should be able to change that and be more empathic and considerate of other cultures and what they may hold important, which at times, may not match our mindset or value systems. Surely, that is a thought we may be able to consider despite our chutzpah on most things.

  • anon

    Australia should be MUCH lower on that list. Between the extreme misogyny acceptance of rape culture it is impossible to be a strong independent woman here

  • Priyanka Mathew

    You definitely lose a lot of credibility by labeling India incorrectly on your chart. I saw that and immediately clicked out. I'd make revisions ASAP.

  • Pleiadiance

     Agree - many important points of data and presentation are incorrect or incomplete to present a truly relevant and holistic picture. Would be great to rerun the data and recast the graph incorporating all the pertinent points expressed as missing or important - the idea of the survey and the visual design is useful if the data and assumptions are corrected ~

  • Tamara

    These criteria are relevant, but I think an essential part is missing: women's rights - voting, choosing or not a husband, buying property, driving, or just living their lives without the threat of being considered as traitors to their families / husbands etc... 

  • Chris

    South Korea is more developed than half the countries on the "More Developed Countries" list.