I’ve recently had the pleasure of coming to Denmark, the World’s Happiest Country according to a recent study commissioned for the UN Conference on Happiness, where not only are there beautiful people everywhere, but practically everything in the stores is organic. In meeting new people, there’s always a need to compare; and, in one conversation, I was in awe-not to mention stumped-by just how great women had it here. In an age where all peoples are deemed equal, it begs us to ask the question “just how equal are we all?”
For this, my friends, I refer you to the Global Gender Gap Report, which was first introduced by The World Economic Forum in 2006. This document ranks nations and benchmarks gender gaps on criteria such as economic, political, education and health-based characteristics of each nation.
Year after year the Scandinavian nations dominate the Top 10 because women have the most equal access to education and healthcare, and a slew of public policies that support other aspects of life to top it all off. But what about the cities? What I’d rather know is where it’d be awesome for women to live and truly call their home.
Iceland, the nation that has dominated the Global Gender Gap Report for the last five years is, of course, going to be on the top of our list as well. Anywhere you go in Iceland, you’ll find that women have the most everything: the most equal access to education and healthcare, the most participation in political and economic life, and who can forget, some of the most breathtaking sights in all of the world. As the world’s northernmost city and home of our Icelandic Anti-Age Queen, Thorbjörg Hafsteinsdottir, Reykjavik is everything a woman would ever need, geothermal spas included. If being number one in gender equality isn’t enough to sway you, check out this list for other awesome reasons why Reykjavik should make it to the top of your list.
Vienna is the city of many things: the city where you can catch shows by the Spanish Riding School, the city where Mozart, Strauss, and many others made their names in classical music, and now, the city where women can call their home. What do I mean by this? Vienna officials have planned their city around the way women move around. In their study of how people used public transportation, they discovered that women not only used more public transportation, but that they also had more varied movements (because let’s face it, how often can we find the right grocery store, daycare, hair salon, bookstore, and cafes all in one little neighborhood). Not only was a new type of apartment complex built to have facilities for all the moms out there, but more ramps were installed into public stairways, more lights were put in make the roads safer, and parks were extended to provide playing space for boys and girls. How cool is that?
For those of you who may not know, Japan is the nation where women have the highest life expectancy in the world (and yes, they do measure these things). With a culture of eating healthy and being active, Japanese women serve as examples to us all that yes, it is possible to age and still look fabulous. But that’s beyond the point. Tokyo makes it to the top of our list not simply because it will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, but because it’s so cool for women in so many other ways. Anything we can ever want is materialized in some way or another in this packed city. Cute little gadgets? Check. The best leather goods money can buy? Check. All the best food in the world? Double check. So what are you waiting for?
Boston has the best-educated women in any US city (I mean, come on, look at the amount of top-notch universities in that city). It also has the best clam chowder I’ve ever had; but food alone isn’t the reason why Boston is on our list. This quaint city brings you the perfect combination of coziness and hustle with its distinct neighborhoods and a heavy heap of history on the side. Women here also have the opportunity to earn a better living, as Mayor Thomas M. Menino avows to his supporters. His goal is to make Boston the first city to eliminate the wage gap between genders, and if companies sign into it, his efforts will lead to more measures that will equalize pay in the future.
In 2011, Wellington was named by Lonely Planet to be “the coolest little capital in the world”. The land of the Kiwis has amazing views every step of the way, no matter where you go (come on, have you guys seen “Lord of the Rings”?) If travelling and the “fish n’ chips aren’t enough to sway you, Wellington makes it to our list because women here have the best working lives. To mark International Women’s Day, The Economist compiled a “Glass-Ceiling Index” of where women would have the best chance of equal treatment at work. Guess which nation made it to the top?
Of course, these five cities aren’t the only places where women should go. The world is so big and is constantly changing as issues such as “gender mainstreaming” and wage equality are brought to light. But, if you want to have a change of pace, check these cities out!