You want to experience everything the world has to offer, but you don’t want to compromise your safety, your salary, or your equal status along the way.

We’ve collected and analysed data on life for different genders, racial minorities, and LGBT people to create an intersectional guide that can apply to all women.

We’ve explained our full methodology below, but let’s look at the results first. These are the nations which we would recommend to women above all others.

The best countries for women:

1. Sweden
2. Netherlands
3. Canada
4. Germany
5. France
6. Spain
7. UK
8. Norway
9. New Zealand

1. Sweden

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality
woman in sweden

96% of Swedes think that gender equality is very important

This Scandinavian wonderland blows the competition away when it comes to gender equality.

96% of Swedes think that gender equality is very important, according to Pew. The country also came in the top four in the World Economic Forum and United Nations’ respective rankings, and finished first in the European Union’s Gender Equality Index.

The country has continually made efforts to eliminate discrimination and ensure equality.

As the government states on its dedicated gender equality page: “Sweden believes that women and men should have equal power to shape society and their own lives.”

After coming second in our ranking of the most liberal countries, Sweden has taken top spot here – and it’s fully deserved.

Thinking of moving to Sweden? Get an idea of what it might cost to move your belongings with our guide on international shipping costs.

2. Netherlands

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality

As with Sweden, the Netherlands is proud of how far it’s come, while noting in government reports that there is still much work to do to ensure total gender equality.

The Dutch government even admits its historical shortcomings, explaining that before 1974, gender equality simply wasn’t a priority for authorities.

But everything has changed since then. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that “gender equality provides a basis for stability and economic prosperity.”

Total gender equality is now inevitable in the Netherlands – at least according to 90% of those asked by Pew.

This figure was higher than any of the other 33 nations in the survey, showing that the hard work put in by Dutch activists and leaders is paying off.

3. Canada

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality

Canada slightly trails some of its rivals in terms of gender equality, but the desire for improvement is there, with 90% of Canadians saying it’s very important that women have the same rights as men.

And you can trust that Canada is working towards this goal, as the country has already achieved high rankings in the other categories we’ve included.

Across all of our three data sources on LGBT equality, Canada is always in the top two, and the government’s Women and Gender Equality site stresses its aim for equality in respect to “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.”

And a majority of people in Canada support increased diversity, showing that the country’s moving in the right direction.

4. Germany

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality
a couple having fun outside the Bundestag

Same-sex marriage and adoption has been legal in Germany since 2017

Germany has worked hard over the past decades to create a more equitable society, and this effort is continuing to have an impact.

Angela Merkel’s time as chancellor has seen the country ban gay conversion therapy on children, become the first in the European Union to add a third gender to birth certificates, and pass laws permitting same-sex marriage and adoption.

Only one country – Brazil – contains a higher proportion of people who would be fine having a neighbour of a different race, according to the World Values Survey.

And only 1.2% of those surveyed said men make better political leaders than women – the lowest percentage of any country.

In 2020, Germany also launched a nine-part plan, under a proposed federal foundation for gender equality, to reduce the gender pay gap and get more women into leadership roles.

5. France

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality

France performed consistently excellently across our data sets when it came to how the country sees and treats women.

Since 2012, the government has had a department dedicated to gender equality; there are officers in every policy area who aim to ensure gender equality, and the Ministry of Labour launched its own Gender Equality Index in 2019.

And also in 2019, the government passed a set of laws that compelled companies with at least 50 employees to eliminate their gender pay gap.

6. Spain

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality

Since 2010, the percentage of people in Spain who admit men have a better life than women has risen from 45% to 64%, showing the country has recognised its deficiencies.

It’s addressing them too, passing two laws in 2020 targeted at further reducing discrimination and pay gaps in the workplace.

Spain’s equality minister, Irene Montero, said the legislation was “one more step to end the gender gap that exists in our society.”

7. UK

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality
woman standing in front of a red bus in london

London is one of the most diverse, welcoming cities in the world

The Equality Act 2010 went beyond European Union statutes to ensure people in the UK are protected against discrimination on the basis of gender (this included trans people, and those experiencing pregnancy or maternity), sexuality, race, religion, and disability.

When it comes to gender equality, only Canada and Sweden have a higher percentage of people who think it’s very important than the UK.

The UK has the highest proportion of people who are pro-diversity in Europe, and since 2020, allows same-sex marriage in every part of the isles – including Northern Ireland.

Though Brexit brought some racial and xenophobic hostilities to the surface, and anti-trans sentiment is on the rise, the UK remains one of the best places in the world to be a woman.

8. Norway

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality

Norway has a sterling record when it comes to treating women as equals.

The country hasn’t left the top three of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report since the study debuted in 2006, around 95% of citizens believe in gender equality, and Norwegian voters have a proud history of electing women.

Women hold 41% of the seats in Norway’s parliament – one-fifth more than the UK – and just like New Zealand, Norway has a female prime minister.

9. New Zealand

Gender equalityRacial equalityLGBT equality

New Zealand is led by one of the most popular prime ministers in the world, Jacinda Ardern, who in 2020 oversaw the passage of the Equal Pay Amendment Act.

The law ensures that women working in female-dominated industries are paid the same as men working in equally valuable male-dominated industries.

Just 1.6% of New Zealanders would object to having someone of a different religion as a neighbour – the lowest figure of any country – and New Zealand is second only to Brazil when it comes to not minding having a neighbour of a different race.

And, unsurprisingly, just 1.3% of people think men make better political leaders than women.

Full rankings

Here’s our complete rundown of the top 25 countries in our rankings.

Finland would’ve come 13th, but the country prohibits trans people from changing their legal gender without being sterilised. We’ve decided it can’t make our list without getting rid of this inhumane law.

9New Zealand60

Our methodology

As mentioned above, we’ve made every effort to create a guide that holds up racial and LGBT equality as ultimate goals alongside gender equality, as intersectional concerns are crucial in determining whether a country is welcoming to all women.

For our racial equality category, we sourced incredibly in-depth data from Pew, the World Values Survey, and US News.

We also used three sources for our LGBT equality section, gathering data from the LGBTQ+ Danger Index, Nomadic Boys’ annual ratings, and the Spartacus Gay Travel Index.

We awarded the top countries in these two categories 25 points, with the runner-up receiving 24 points, the third-placed nation getting 23 points, and so on. Nations outside the top 25 in any given category received no points.

But of course, the most important factor in deciding which countries are best for women is still gender equality, so we gave double the number of points – that is, 50 – to the top nation in this category, with 48 points for coming second, and so on.

And if a country didn’t make the top 25 nations when it came to gender equality, it was not allowed into the overall rankings.

To analyse how each country views and treats women, we turned to data from Pew, the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index, and the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2021.

In the occasional case where there was a tie after all the points were tallied, the country with the higher gender equality score took the higher spot.

The 9 worst countries for women

We’ve based our ratings here on data from the Gender Inequality Index and World Economic Forum, as both have comprehensive ranking systems that include more than 150 countries.

The list is dominated by poor countries in Africa and Asia with upsetting colonial histories – and that’s no coincidence.

Western countries with imperial histories have a responsibility to help these nations to grow, but until they make more ground towards gender parity – and all other factors being equal – we advise staying away.

1. Yemen
2. Chad
3. Papua New Guinea
4. Iraq
5. Pakistan
6. Syria
7. Central African Republic
8. Democratic Republic of Congo
9. Mali