Inequality between sexes a global problem
Norway treats women better than any other country, according to the 1999 UN Human Development Report released earlier this month.
According to the report, there is a widespread discrepancy between the sexes, with inequality existing in all countries.
Canada, ranked as the best place to live overall, slips to fourth place on this list in terms of equality between the sexes. The United States, which was ranked third for livability, is in eighth place on the 'gender empowerment' index.
The rankings were based on how many women are in parliament or government, how many have professional or technical jobs, and how much they earn, based on per capita income.
The 20 top countries on this list are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Germany, Finland, Iceland, the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Austria, the Bahamas, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Britain, Belgium, Portugal, South Africa and Ireland.
The survey shows that high income is not always a necessary condition for creating opportunities for women. South Africa and Costa Rica, for example, outrank France, which is in 36th place.
The Bahamas, the Czech Republic and Slovenia also offer better conditions for women than their income would suggest, illustrating that equality 'can be achieved across a range of cultures', the report said.