The 2023 Women, Peace and Security Index was launched on Tuesday October 24, ranking countries around the world in terms of the status of women.
The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), which co-authored the index, found many of the best countries in the world to be a woman are all in Europe, despite the fact that there are significant variations across the region.
According to the Index, societies where women are doing well are also more peaceful, democratic, prosperous and more ready to adjust to environmental change.
That said, researchers cautioned in their report that “multilayered crises undermine the status of women and threaten to roll back decades of progress,” citing the rise of authoritarianism, mass displacement, devastating armed conflicts and the continuing consequences of COVID.
For instance, in Georgetown University’s Insitute for Women, PRIO drew on data measuring inclusion, justice and security for women. They used 13 indicators in total that ranged from education and employment laws to perceptions of safety and violence.
While the pair positioned 177 countries across the globe, Euronews focused on the results in Europe. This year’s Women, Peace Security Index – now in its fourth incarnation – contained 44 European countries, including the Balkans and Caucasus.
Nine out of the top ten best countries to be women are European, despite obvious difference within the region. Denmark tops the 2023 rankings, scoring more than three times higher than Afghanistan at the bottom of the scale. It is followed closely by Switzerland and Sweden.
Ukraine is at the bottom of the European pile. Its poor performance was driven by “particularly low” security scores compared to other European countries, PRIO explained to Euronews in a statement, with Russia’s invasion increasing threats and violence for women.
The second and third worst countries to be woman in Europe are Kosovo and Azerbaijan, respectively. Kosovo’s low score was attributed to poor education and employment results for women, alongside “very high levels” of maternal mortality, said PRIO.
In Azerbaijan, the Norway-based organisation pointed out that the sons-bias (where more boys are born compared to girls) is substantially higher than in the rest of Europe.
When breaking the results down across Europe’s various regions, other patterns are revealed. Scandinavian countries are on top when it comes to being a woman, as with many other indicators. The region racks up a 0.925 score out of 1.
The three Caucasus countries in the index – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – fare the worst, with the Balkans and eastern Europe second and third worst.
“With its scores, rankings, and robust data, the WPS Index offers a valuable tool for people working on issues of women, peace, and security,” said Elena Ortiz, the lead author of the WPS Index.