Financial security, good healthcare and education, and support for women at work are key drivers in women’s optimism for the future, according to Gallup
Women in Western European nations are the most likely in the world to say that they are “thriving,” according to a newly-released Gallup survey.
Women rated the quality of their lives on a scale from 0 (the worst) to 10 (the best). If they gave themselves a 7 or higher currently and projected their future lives to reach an 8 or higher in five years’ time, Gallup considered them to be thriving.
Forty-nine percent of Western European women who both work and have a family said they were thriving. Thirty-five percent of those who weren’t in the workforce said the same — indicating that careers are a big factor in these women’s happiness and their optimism for the future.
Financial security, good healthcare and education, and support for women at work were also important, Sofia Kluch — a director for the Gallup World Poll — told Moneyish.
“The high proportion of women thriving in Western Europe can be attributed to lower rates of poverty, higher feelings of safety and security, and generally higher well-being or satisfaction in their communities,” she said. “Lower proportions of ‘thriving’ are commonly found in countries that have higher rates of poverty and lower satisfaction with their communities, national institutions, and their employment and economic opportunities.”
For its part, more than one in two women in the United States, per separate Gallup data, reported that they are thriving, too. Fifty-three percent of American women say they’re thriving — that’s four points higher than the Western European average — but it’s worth noting that Western Europe is home to a number of countries where higher proportions of women say they’re thriving, as well.
Iceland (where 69% of women there are thriving), Finland (71%), Denmark and Norway (both 67%) are among the best performers worldwide. Kluch added that gender pay parity and a number of other factors such as security, affluence and women’s empowerment to join the workforce are all important factors in this equation, and Scandinavian countries have historically been far ahead in these areas.
For example, Iceland passed a law in January that made it illegal for companies and organizations with 25 people or more to pay women less than men. And the World Economic Forum reported last year that Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden are among the top countries worldwide with the narrowest pay gaps.
Where are women not doing as well? Sub-Saharan and North Africa and the Middle East were among the worst regions, with countries such as Somalia having just 15% of women saying they’re thriving, followed by Egypt (12%), Chad (9%), Burkina Faso (7%), and the Central African Republic (3%).
That’s because countries in these regions tend to have more widespread poverty, violence, broader wage gaps, and fewer opportunities for women as compared to other regions — which could explain why women there are more pessimistic about their future prospects. Indeed, the World Economic Forum ranked Africa and the Middle East as the worst in the world for gender-based pay inequalities.
“Through extensive research, Gallup knows that a major element of what women consider to be ‘thriving’ has to be with financial security — namely, working and having enough money for basic needs like food and shelter,” Kluch concluded.
“Women in parts of the world that struggle with safety, stability, access to healthcare, good-quality education, and other considerations like poverty and corruption, generally reported less favorable feelings about the state of their lives now and in the future.”
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