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The Best And Worst Places To Be A Woman

According to The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, Iceland has the narrowest gender gap among 136 countries. The U.S. ranks 23rd on the list.

Posted on October 25, 2013, at 8:57 p.m. ET

For the fifth year running, Iceland is rated as the country with the narrowest gender gap. This means women in Iceland have greater access to health and education, and are more politically and economically empowered than women in other countries.

juliannafunk / Getty Images

The Global Gender Gap Index measures and ranks 136 countries on one important aspect of gender equality — the relative gaps between women and men across four key areas: health, education, economics and politics.

The overall gender gap narrowed slightly across the globe in 2013, as 86 of 133 countries showed improvements.

The top five countries with the smallest gender gap were Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Philippines. The U.S., which was 23rd on the list, has a wider gender gap than Cuba and Canada.

Here's how women fare in 12 countries across the world.

Iceland #1

Mikael Fritzon / AP

Iceland has had the overall smallest gender gap for five straight years. It ranks first in education and economic empowerment for women, but comes in at 97 on women's health and survival. Finland, ranked second overall, is #1 in women's health.

Pictured here: Icelandic players react after their 0-1 win against the Netherlands in the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 soccer match.

United Kingdom #18

Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

The U.K., ranked 18th, scored lower than most of its Nordic counterparts in political and economic empowerment. The Guardian reported that the U.K. has failed to improve its place in the rankings, steadily declining from 9th since 2006.

Pictured here: Queen Elizabeth II in Ascot, England.

United States #23

Ho New / Reuters

The U.S. ranks high on education and economic opportunities for women. But it ranks 60th on political empowerment, compared to Canada's (ranked 20th overall) 42nd position.

Pictured here: U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House.

Russian Federation #61

Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters / Reuters

Russia scores lower in gender equality than countries like Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Israel and Sri Lanka. It is ranked 94th in the area of political empowerment for women.

Pictured here: Member of the feminist punk band "Pussy Riot" Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been charged and imprisoned for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” by the Russian government.

Brazil #62


Brazil ranked first on education attainment and health and survival, but in terms of political empowerment, it ranked much lower (68th) than its South American counterpart Nicaragua, which ranked fifth in political empowerment and 10th overall.

Pictured here: A fashion show modeled and designed by senior women, some of whom live in a shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

China #69

Aly Song / Reuters

China, which is being viewed as a model of gender equality, ranks 62nd in economic participation and opportunity, beating higher-ranked countries like Cuba, Austria and South Africa in this area. However, the New York Times stated the picture is not as rosy for women in China's urban work force.

Pictured here: Female migrant construction workers at a residential construction site in Shanghai.

India #101

Amit Dave / Reuters

India ranked very high (9th) in terms of political empowerment for women, but had the second-lowest position (135th) for women's health and survival. It ranked low in economic opportunity (124th) and educational attainment (120th).

Pictured here: Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi waves to her supporters during an election campaign rally.

United Arab Emirates #109

AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

While most of the Middle East faces the greatest gender inequalities, there is a reverse gender gap in female education in the UAE. Many more women than men are finishing university here, reported BBC News.

Pictured here: U.S. Basketball star Kobe Bryant poses with members of the UAE women basketball team in Dubai.

Côte d'Ivoire #131


Some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have the widest gender gaps, including the Ivory Coast at 131. However, it is ranked first in health and survival of women. Some South African nations are in the top 30 countries like Lesotho which ranks 16th, beating the U.K. and the U.S.

Pictured here: Women clean plastic bags for recycling in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast.

Syria #133

AP Photo

While Syria is ranked 58th in terms of women's access to health services it ranks the lowest, 136th, in terms of economic participation and opportunity, and 112th in educational attainment.

Pictured here: A Syrian girl works at her desk at a public school in Madaya village, Syria.

Pakistan #135

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

Pakistan ranked as the second-worst country for gender inequality. Like India, its gender disparities are less in terms of political empowerment with a rank of 64. However it ranked second-worst in economic opportunity and participation and eighth-worst in education.

Pictured here: A Pakistani woman returns home carrying wood to be used for cooking and heating, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Yemen #136 (Lowest rank) / Via

Education of girls in Yemen remains the biggest challenge, with parents forcing girls as young as seven to get married. It ranked the third-worst (134th) in educational attainment for women and fifth-worst in economic participation.

Pictured here: Child brides in Yemen.

Here are the top 20 countries with the smallest gender gap.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.