Iceland and three other Nordic countries lead the world in gender equality, according to a report released on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.
The Swiss-based group ranked countries according to how much they reduced gender disparities based on economic participation, education, health and political empowerment while attempting to strip out the effects of a nation's overall wealth.
Switzerland moved up one spot over last year, placing 13th in the Global Gender Gap Report 2009. In 2007 it ranked 40th.
The authors attributed this year's results to improvements in economic participation and education, most notably through increases in women's estimated annual earned income and enrolment in tertiary education.
Six European countries were among the ten highest-ranked countries in the world, and 13 were in the top 20.
Iceland, which has been rocked by financial crisis, rose from fourth place overall a year ago to top the list and was followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden. New Zealand came in fifth.
The United States fell four spots to 31st, behind Lithuania and ahead of Namibia. Yemen was ranked lowest at 134, behind Chad and Pakistan.
swissinfo.ch and agencies