Wednesday 19 November 2014 11:07 am

Where is the best place in the world to be a woman? UK slips eight places in World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index 2014 as Iceland retains crown

Catherine Neilan is head of politics and investigations at City A.M.

Catherine Neilan is head of politics and investigations at City A.M.

Follow Catherine Neilan

The gap between the amount women and men are paid has narrowed to 9.4 per cent, its lowest since records began in 1997, according to the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index 2014.

But that still doesn't mean the UK is setting an example: after giving us Icesave and more volcanic ash cloud than we know what to do with Iceland is giving something back to the world – it's showing the rest of us how it's done when it comes to sexual equality.

The Nordic country has topped the index again. That's the fifth year in a row it has managed to retain the crown.

Why? Well, it scores really highly on most of the key data including economic participation, education and political empowerment.

The UK could learn from Iceland: we have actually slipped eight places since last year, 11 places since 2010 and 17 places since the index began in 2006.

Our best score is for education, where we rank 32nd overall, 33rd for political empowerment, 46th for economic participation and 94th for health and survival.

Iceland conversely comes first, first, seventh and 128th respectively, (though exactly why it scores so low for health is not clear as it appears to be based on healthy life expectancy – Icelandic women should live to 73, compared with 72 for men).

This might not surprise you given that British women have effectively been working for free since November 5. But it would still be nice to rank above developing countries like Rwanda (seventh), Nicaragua (sixth) and Burundi (17th). 

At the bottom of the index are countries you might not be that surprised by – Yemen is the worst place in the world for women, with very low scores for all categories (though it ranks higher than Iceland on health – 117th place).

It is followed by Pakistan, Chad and Syria – although this war zone scores much higher on health and survival (37th) apparently because women's life expectancy is 10 years longer than men's. (65 vs 55).

In case you're wondering, Trinidad and Tobago was ranked first for healthcare and survival.

The full list of the top line scores is below. If you want to dig a little deeper you can go here for the details.