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Survey ranks best and worst countries for women

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In the last year, Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote and run for office, a woman took the reins at the International Monetary Fund and Brazil elected its first woman president.

The cause of women has advanced in many parts of the world, while in others, it has stalled, backtracked or remained stagnant.

Against this backdrop, a survey by Newsweek / the Daily Beast ranks the best and worst countries on "expansive rights and quality of rights" for women after grading five factors: economics, justice, education, health and politics.

Of 165 nations, the highest ranked were primarily in Europe and North America. Iceland, helmed by a woman prime minister, topped the list at No. 1, Sweden was at No. 2 and United States came in at a respectable eighth place.

Chad, a landlocked nation in central Africa, has the dubious distinction of ranking last, with the study noting that "women had almost no legal rights, and many marriages are arranged when girls are 11 or 12." All but one of the worst 20 countries are in Africa or Asia.

Curiously, according to the study, even some of the countries most inhospitable to women's rights did not do too badly in the economics front, which was judged using four factors: whether women can work in all industries, percentage of women in the labor force, women's wages as a percentage of men's and the ability of women to rise to positions of enterprise leadership.

On a scale of 100, Chad scored a 70.9, while Ethiopia, ninth from the bottom, scored 79.7. Compare that to Switzerland (at No. 6) at 82.6 and the Netherlands (No. 10) at 83.

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--Shan Li

Photo: Iceland Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir arrives for the national memorial ceremony in Oslo on Aug. 21. Credit: Scanpix Norway via Reuters

 
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