By Denis Foynes
Forbes has released their list of the ten best countries in the world for women for 2012.
The country rankings are based on health and survival, economic participation, political empowerment, and access to education. Bottom of the list are Saudi Arabia (No. 131), Mali (No. 132), Pakistan (No. 133), Chad (No. 134), and Yemen (No. 135).
Here is the top 10-
The country has made huge progress considering women didn’t have the right to vote until 1971. Women are now the majority in the Swiss government. They have also made huge progress in combating violence against women.
There have been increases in women in parliament (from 21% to 40%) and an increase of the percentage of women holding ministerial positions (38% to 46%). However, The Nicaraguan government prohibits abortions even in cases to save a woman’s life or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy due to rape or incest.
8. The Philippines
The Philippines is only country in Asia to have closed the gender gap in both education and health this year. From 1992 to 2001, Filipino women had been elected as local chief executives, functioning as mayors, governors, and captains of villages. One influential factor contributing to the increasing number of female politicians, is the elevation of Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Philippine women Presidents.
Women have the same legal status as men, including under family law, property law, and in the judicial system. The law requires equal pay for equal work.
6. New Zealand
New Zealand has had a gender pay gap between men and women of about 12 per cent median hourly rates for the past decade.
Ireland has been climbing this list since 2006. Female participation in the labor force began to grow significantly following Ireland’s accession to the EU in 1973. In 2010 the gender pay gap in Ireland stood at 12.6 %. This figure is below the EU average where women earn on average 17.4 per cent less than men for every hour worked.
Families benefit from both business and government commitment to parental leave. In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Women claim most of the days. In 2008, men claimed about 20 percent of parental leave. Women comprise roughly 60 percent of all students in under-graduate university studies and almost two-thirds of all degrees are awarded to women.
Since the 1980s, Norway's changing governments have always been almost 50 per cent women. The Norwegian Government has even launched a new plan of action for encouraging the rights of women in developing countries. Norway will require its cooperation partners to take women’s issues and gender equality seriously.
Finland was the first country in the world where women could both vote in and stand for parliamentary election, in 1907. The first female government minister was Miina Sillanpää, who served as the II Minister for Social Affairs in 1926–27. However violence against women is still a major problem. Every year 15–20 Finnish women die in violence of their husband or ex-husband.
Iceland currently has 43% female parliament members and has had a female head of state for 18 of the past 50 years. It also has the lowest labor force gender gap in the world with 81% of women in the workforce. Iceland was also Forbes 2012 safest country in the world.
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