The World Economic Forum's annual report on the global gender gap contains some predictable data. Nordic countries blessed with robust social democracies make up the top five places in the rankings, beginning with tiny Iceland. The bottom five countries — Yemen, Pakistan, Chad, Syria and Mali — are racked with political instability and conflict and are home to large rural populations within which traditional mores hold sway.
Explore the WEF's interactive map below, where you can toggle individual countries for a more complete breakdown of how the rankings work. Countries are scored on a range of criteria: women's health indicators, their political empowerment, their participation in their country's economy and their right to education.
Despite the vast discrepancies between, say, Iceland and Pakistan, the WEF stresses that no country has fully closed the gender gap. It has been publishing these rankings since 2006.
The report's authors say that gender equality is improving worldwide, overall, boosted by growing numbers of women being allowed access to jobs and building a stake in their country's political life. "Much of the progress on gender equality over the last 10 years has come from more women entering politics and the workforce," the report's lead author, Saadia Zahidi, told the Associated Press.
But more regressive realities remain — with women struggling for access to education and adequate health care in a host of developing countries, and wage inequities persisting virtually everywhere.
The United States improved a few spots this year, ranking 20th, ahead of fellow Anglophone countries such as Australia and Britain. But it still lags behind far poorer nations such as Nicaragua and Rwanda.
"Both rich countries and poor countries can afford gender equality,” Zahidi told Fortune magazine. “Gender equality doesn’t have to only come along once a country is fully developed."