The 21 best countries in the world to live in if you’re a woman

The US ranked in 16th place.

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The US ranked in 16th place.
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mangostock / Shutterstock

Sweden has returned to the top spot as the best country in the world to live in for women, according to a 2019 ranking from US News & World Report. In 2018, the spot was taken by Denmark – the country is now back down to No. 2.

The media organization surveyed more than 9,000 women as part of its wider Best Countries ranking in order to determine which of 80 countries around the globe are the best for women to live in.

Read more: Thousands of people are calling on Japan to ban employers from requiring women to wear high heels in the workplace

The full 2019 Best Countries List surveyed 20,000 global citizens to discover how 80 countries are perceived on a global scale for a range of criteria, from economic influence to citizenship and quality of life.

The best countries for women were given a score out of 10 on these five attributes: human rights, gender quality, income equality, progress, and safety.

In honor of Women’s Equality Day, scroll down to see the 21 best countries in the world to live in if you’re a woman, ranked in ascending order.


21. Singapore

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Flickr/Philippe Put

Despite being world-renowned as a thriving metropolis, Singapore was not favored by female respondents. The Southeast Asian country scored a measly 0.7 for gender equality and a 1.1 in human rights.


20. Portugal

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A girl carries a flag during the LGBT march in Lisbon, Portugal, June 18 2016.
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Pedro/Creative Commons

This Western European nation has struggled financially, and income equality remains low (0.9). However, it’s relatively safe (7.7), with an above-average score on human rights (6.0).


19. Spain

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A woman holding the Spanish flag.
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Marco Luzzani / Stringer / Getty Images

Unemployment continues to be an issue in Spain, with income inequality at just 1.0. The country’s ranking in gender equality dropped from last year’s score of 6.4 to 5.8, and their human rights score also lowered.


18. Japan

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Japanese 20-year-olds dressed in traditional kimonos pose for a photo during the annual Coming-of-Age Day ceremony at Toshimaen Amusement Park.
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Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

One of the most technically advanced nations, Japan scored a perfect 10 on progression. However, it has ways to go in terms of gender quality, scoring a shocking 0.8, with only 2.9 for human rights.


17. Italy

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A woman holding the Italian flag in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
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RossHelen / Shutterstock

The home of art, wine, and good food had mediocre scores for gender equality (5.6), progression (4.3), and human rights (6.5), but female unemployment is still a huge concern.


16. United States

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American women with their faces painted red, white, and blue.
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mangostock / Shutterstock

Income inequality is one of the challenges still faced by the US, with a score of just 1.1 – it lowered by 0.3 points since 2018. However, the North American powerhouse manages to be highly progressive (8.9). The country’s gender equality score lowered from 7.6 in 2018 to 7.0.


15. Ireland

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Supporters in favor of same-sex marriage celebrate and cheer as thousands gather in Dublin Castle square awaiting the referendum vote outcome on May 23, 2015, in Dublin, Ireland.
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Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Considered to be a conservative society, Ireland scored relatively low on progression (4.9), but it’s worth noting it did up its 2018 score of 3.6. Income equality in Ireland came in at just 3.8 – but its human rights score (7.9) helped it move up the ranks. History was made in Ireland when citizens voted to pass a law that legalized abortion – the country’s ranking for gender equality stands at 6.4.


14. France

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A woman reads a book on the grass on a sunny summer day in the gardens at the Place des Vosges square, with landmark architecture of buildings that date from the seventeenth century, in Paris, August 14, 2013.
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Christian Hartmann/Reuters

This Western European nation has plenty of influence on the world and was one of the first countries to champion the rights of the individual. It scores highly on gender equality and human rights, but poorly on income equality at just 2.0.


13. United Kingdom

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Meghan Markle.
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Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

With a female Prime Minister and a new addition to the royal family, outwardly-feminist Meghan Markle, the UK scored well on gender equality (8.8) and human rights (9.1). However, income equality is shockingly low, at just 2.6.


12. Belgium

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A woman attends a Belgium color parade.
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REUTERS/Yves Herman

Belgium is widely known for its beer, mouth-watering chocolate, and magnificent castles. According to the 2019 Best Countries report, people living in Belgium are seen as being environmentally conscious as well as caring about human rights. The small European country received a 9.0 in human rights, 8.2 in gender equality, and 7.2 in progressiveness.


11. Luxembourg

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A woman poses in Luxembourg.
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Alexey Fedorenko / Shutterstock

The wealthiest country in the European Union with a high standard of living and a strong score for human rights, Luxembourg only scored a 6.9 for gender equality, a 6.5 for progression, and a 4.8 for income equality.


10. Germany

The country ranked very highly for its score on progression – 9.8 – but only received a 7.0 on gender equality and a 7.5 on human rights.


9. New Zealand

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Two women in New Zealand.
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Guaxinim / Shutterstock

In 2017, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led the progressive Labour party to victory and became the youngest female leader in the world. However, two years later, the country only received a 7.3 for gender equality.


8. Australia

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A woman in Sydney, Australia.
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Courtesy Michelle Miller

With a high life expectancy for both men and women, Australia scored 8.7 out of 10 for human rights, but a slightly lower score of 8.3 for gender equality.


7. Switzerland

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A woman in Zurich, Switzerland.
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Roman Babakin / Shutterstock

As the overall best country in the world, according to the ranking, this neutral, peaceful country scored an 8.6 out of 10 on gender equality, a 9.2 in human rights, and an 8.4 in progressiveness.


6. Finland

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Girls wearing flower garlands celebrate the summer solstice during the Seurasaari open-air museum’s Midsummer Eve festival in Helsinki, Finland.
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Heikki Saukkomaa/Reuters

The first country to offer unrestricted rights for women to vote and be elected in Parliament, Finland is one of the most welcoming environments for women. It received a score of 8.9 in gender equality and a 9 out of 10 in human rights.


5. Netherlands

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A woman cycles past national flags, the day before a general election, in Delft, Netherlands, March 14, 2017.
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Yves Herman/Reuters

The Dutch have managed to narrow the gender gap across health, education, economy, and politics, providing benefits such as a maternity nurse to new mothers. The Netherlands scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in both gender equality and commitment to human rights.


4. Norway

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A woman in Team Norway clothing passes along a street near PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 11, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
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Getty Images

Coming in third out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, generous maternity leave policies are just one of the reason’s Norway is one of the most gender-equal nations in the world. Norway scores very high in caring about human rights (9.9) and gender equality (9.1).


3. Canada

The North American country champions diversity and ranked highly for human rights (9.8) and gender equality (9.1).


2. Denmark

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A woman riding a bike in Denmark.
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Shutterstock

Though Denmark dropped from their No. 1 ranking last year to No. 2 this year, it still ranked highly for human rights and gender equality. The progressive Scandinavian country boasts an earnings-related daycare system and one of the most flexible parental leave policies in Europe. Denmark scored a 9.4 in human rights and a 9.1 in gender equality.


1. Sweden

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A group of women at a parade in Sweden.
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Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Regaining its top spot after being replaced by Denmark in 2018, Sweden has the most progressive attitude towards gender equality (9.6) and human rights (9.8). According to an article published by The New York Times, women in Sweden now represent 46% of the parliament and 50% of the government’s cabinet. Those figures make the United State’s House and Senate, which has a record 24.5% women as voting members, appear to be from the dark ages.