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Norway Ranks Second for Gender Equality

Famous women in Norway

Norway places second in a new global ranking of gender equality.

The new Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum places Norway second, behind only Iceland. The equality chart addresses the gender equality situation in 149 countries.

Norway and Iceland have held the top two places for several years, with the exception of the 2016 rankings when Finland overtook Norway.

The flags of the Nordic nations

How gender equality is scored

In the report, each country is given a score in each of four areas:

  • Economic participation and opportunities
  • Education
  • Health and survival
  • Political participation

The combined score for the four areas is then used to give the countries an overall score between 0 and 1. Norway finished with 0.835 behind Iceland with 0.858. The result means that Norway has an 83.5% gender equality score, meaning there is a 16.5% gender gap to close.

Sweden (0.822), Finland (0.821) and Nicaragua (0.809) make up the top five, with Rwanda, New Zealand, Philippines, Ireland and Namibia making up the top ten. The United Kingdom placed 15th with the USA lagging behind in 51st.

Nordic countries sweep the board

Four of the five principal Nordic countries – Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland – fill the top four places. All four countries scored well in education and the health and survival categories, although many other countries scored well.

Where the Nordic countries performed well compared to others was in political empowerment. Norway was ranked 3rd although the score of 0.563 shows there is still a lot of improvement needed. The region also performed well in the economic participation and opportunity category, with Norway placed 11th.

Hiking to Trolltunga in Norway
Hiking in Norway. Photo: Mathias Jensen / Unsplash

The United States lagged behind most in health and survival (71st) and political empowerment (98th).

Progress slow towards gender equality

The report states that progress towards parity continues to be very slow. The Global Gender Gap score is 68%, meaning that on average there is a 32% gap to close. The population-weighted average overall gap is virtually unchanged from last year, improving by less than one decimal point.

“This slow but directionally positive trend at a global level is confirmed at a country level, too: for the second year in a row there have been more countries improving than going backwards”, states the report.

“Although progress continues to proceed at a very slow pace, and despite significant heterogeneity across countries’ performances, the fact that most countries are moving toward greater gender parity is encouraging and rewards the efforts of all policy-makers and practitioners across the world that work to achieve the UN’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal: Gender equality.

The quality of life in Norway

Norway and their Nordic neighbours are no strangers to topping quality of life charts, which has led many people, organisations, and governments from around the world look to the Nordic model for guidance.

Norway regularly places in the top places of the World Happiness Report, and also scores well for job satisfaction among young professionals, according to recent research.

All the Nordic countries are social-democratic countries with mixed economies. Despite what many commenters here on Life in Norway like to believe, they are not “socialist” in the classic sense of the word. Each country is driven by financial markets, the difference being that the state plays more of a strategic role in the economy.

Nordic countries show that major egalitarian reforms and substantial welfare states are possible within prosperous capitalist countries that are highly engaged in global markets.

Read more: Equality and the Nordic model

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

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