Live in For Women
Where in the world do women have the most opportunities? One must consider many factors when evaluating a country’s appeal to women. Gender equality, women’s rights, equal pay, the poverty rate for women, the rate of education for women and more specific issues like paid parental leave all play a significant role in building an egalitarian society. The following five countries are the best countries to live in for women.


The Swedish government has declared itself a feminist government, setting forth a nation-wide standard of gender equality. Gender equality in Sweden goes beyond equality of opportunities and extends into ensuring equal qualities of life to ensure a positive future for Sweden. Workplace gender discrimination has been illegal beginning in 1980 and Swedish legislation further developed gender equality when the Swedish Discrimination Act passed in 2009. This law states that all employers and businesses must take active steps to ensure the existence of equality between women and men and the absence of harassment in the workplace. In 2017, the law expanded to include the prevention of all harassment, not only harassment on the basis of gender. Notably, Sweden’s legislation prevents discrimination against individuals seeking to take parental leave, the absence of which causes a major financial burden on families worldwide. These policies ensure that women, whether single or married, mothers or not, receive protection against all major forms of harassment. A telling fact of the extent of gender equality in Sweden is the percentage of women comprising Swedish parliament and cabinet – 46 and 50 percent, respectively.


Women in Denmark integrate incredibly into the workplace, as women generally maintain jobs outside of their homes. With a generous parental leave policy, women are able to raise families while working without worrying about maintaining income. Similar to women in Sweden, Danish women have respect and can participate in government affairs, with 40 percent of Swedish parliament being female. According to a 2016 survey that the U.S. News and World Report conducted, Denmark is the number one country in the world for women to live in. Respondents considered five factors including safety, progressiveness, income equality and gender inequality.


Canadians have ample legislation to preserve the presence of equality for women and men. Previously, Canadian women did not experience such egalitarianism, and the government of Canada has made tremendous strides in bettering the country for women. In 2015, Justin Trudeau famously appointed an equal number of males and females to his cabinet, setting forth a precedent for his time in office. Canadian women receive protection from discrimination through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Women are, on average, more educated than men in Canada, indicating definite equality when it comes to educational opportunities. However, Candian women still experience the wage gap and income inequalities in the workplace. Canadians claim that these issues are the largest and greatest obstacles standing in the way of true equality in Canada.


In 2014, the Constitution of Norway expanded to include more human rights, including the Equality and Anti-Discriminatory Act. This act improved the status and rights of women and minorities and was necessary due to violence against women and the segregation of men and women in the workplace. In 2016, the Government of Norway signed a new plan into action that would take steps to further women’s rights and gender inequality. The Action Plan for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Foreign and Development Policy focused on five different goals, including equal participation for men and women in politics, full economic rights for women to participate in the labor workforce and inclusive education programs for all children, male or female. These policies contribute to why Norway is on the list for top countries for women to live in.

The Netherlands

Prior to 1956, women in the Netherlands automatically lost their job as soon as they married. This fact is hard to fathom when compared to the state of women’s rights and gender equality of the Scandinavian country today. Dutch law legally prevents discrimination and explicitly bans any type of inequality in men’s rights and women’s rights. However, a closer look into the Netherlands reveals that the country is not exactly a perfect place to live for women. For example, though men and women have close to equal levels of education, there still exists a gap in the comparison of individuals doing paid versus unpaid labor. In terms of safety, 45 percent of Dutch women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Governments in countries like the Netherlands have had to implement new platforms and legislation to ensure that citizens feel safer in favor of true gender equality.

These best countries for women to live in concentrate in North America and Scandinavia. The top 10 list also includes Finland, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, expanding the geographic regions outward. The United States of America ranks at around number 16, appearing lower on the list due to crippling income inequality. Additionally, some regions in the world provide very dangerous environments for women, including the Middle East and Asia in countries such as Afghanistan and India.

– Orly Golub
Photo: Flickr

Vitens Evides International
Currently, over 660 million individuals around the world do not have access to clean, potable water. However, the Utretch, Netherlands-based organization Vitens Evides International (VEI) aims to change this. VEI partners with local companies to deliver clean water to individuals in transitioning and developing countries. Their work has already reached the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, as they have entered into productive partnerships with companies in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique, among others.

Notable Partnerships

Upon entering into a WOP (water-operator partnership) both the local company and VEI get to work implementing technologies and strategies to help improve water quality and accessibility. One of VEI’s most successful partnerships came in 2008, when they partnered with local company SAWACO in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. VEI was able to successfully fix the issue of water system leakage in the city and improve clean water distribution. They were also able to train individuals in the community on how to maintain a functional, efficient water purification and distribution system, ensuring that the work done by this particular WOP had long-lasting impact.

Another notable partnership came in 2015 when VEI worked with FIPAG, a local water supply company in the city of Maputo, Mozambique. Their combined efforts to install new drinking water distribution centers and improve household connections to these centers has helped bring clean, potable water to many people residing in Maputo.

The Statistics

VEI’s yearly statistics are impressive. In 2018, they worked on over 40 projects in 20 different countries and helped over 300,000 individuals gain access to clean water. The number of individuals that have gained access to clean water as a result of VEI’s work has grown in 3 consecutive years; as such, VEI is aiming to help another 350,000 individuals gain access to clean water by 2020. The company has a strong vision and driven leadership at the helm. Given all of this, it seems VEI is set up for future success.

Sustainable Development Goals

VEI’s work helps to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal #6, which is to ensure all individuals have access to clean water and sanitation. Accomplishing such a goal will help achieve a number of other Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as well; having access to clean water helps to alleviate poverty and promote educational opportunities (SDG’s #1 and #4) as individuals will be able to spend more time working or obtaining an education and less time looking for water. In addition, individuals with access to clean water will be far healthier, which will contribute towards the achievement of SDG #3.

Future Impact

As mentioned above, VEI is looking to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people across the developing world. They have recently secured partnerships with companies such as STUCO (Aruba) and WEB (Bonaire), as well as DWASA (Bangladesh). Each of these partnerships promises to contribute to the end goal of providing clean, potable water to everyone around the globe. Such a future may now be closer than ever.

Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

The Netherlands to Experiment with Universal Cash Benefits for All
A month ago, Utrecht, the second largest city in the Netherlands, announced it would implement a state funded Universal Benefit Income (UBI) program, which allocates a certain monthly sum to every resident who wishes to partake in the scheme, no strings attached.

The program, which will begin after the summer holidays, aims to provide a basic income that can cover living costs to residents; with the goal of enabling people to work more flexible hours and to devote more time to care, volunteering, and education.

While UBI programs have never been implemented nationwide, various localized UBI programs have been attempted in the past; such as in the small Canadian town of Dauphin, where the city’s poorest citizens received cash sums from 1974 to 1979.

Utrecht’s decision to utilize UBI has also caused the movement to gain traction within the Netherlands, with seven other towns in the Netherlands currently considering similar schemes.

In Utrecht, the exact value of the cash disbursements has yet to be settled, but officials say it will range between 900 and 1,300 euros per month, depending upon the size of household. Most crucially, UBI also follows an income, or resident ‘blind’ selection process; meaning that all residents–even non-Dutch citizens, such as migrants–are entitled to receive the sum.

The take-off of the UBI idea in the Netherlands marks a seismic shift in the nation’s historic location on the fringes of Europe’s political agenda.

Traditionally, the UBI concept has only found support among left-wing and uber-liberal parties such as the Finnish Greens in Finland, which focuses its political policy primarily on climate change, or the Podemos, a radical party in Spain which supports a communist solution to the country’s economic ills.

Growing support for UBI within the Netherlands and among political parties has thus thrust the idea into the mainstream political agenda for the first time.

UBI’s sudden shift into the political centerfold also marks an interesting move away from the reaction that many welfare-state and socialist countries (such as Scandinavian countries) have had to increase levels of immigration: which has been to tighten and restrict welfare benefits for non-natives.

In light of this, the fact that UBI would be granted and money disbursed to migrants marks a surprising shift away from the anti-immigrant sentiment which is currently sweeping across Europe–and towards more inclusive notions of society and community.

While Utrecht prepares to implement UBI in the coming weeks, and other Dutch cities mull over the idea, Utrecht says it has paired up with University College Utrecht to see how effective UBI will be in a welfare state constituted by an ever-increasing multicultural population.

The team also hopes to discover whether UBI, granted to all residents who wish to receive it–including migrants–will help to produce a more effective, creative, and inspiring society in Utrecht, and whether the idea could take off within the Netherlands (and possibly, within the European Union) as a positive way to counter the threat of increasing anti-immigrant sentiment and increasing social exclusivity, throughout the region.

Ana Powell

Sources: Al Jazeera, The Independent, The Guardian, Vihreat
Photo: Flickr

The Dutch government has given entrepreneurs a way to do business in developing countries, without jumping through hoops to do so. The Dutch Good Growth Fund offers a source of financing for development-related businesses to improve the economies of developing countries, create jobs and increase production capacity locally.

The Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) is seeking win-win situations: helping locally and fixing globally. The DGGF is divided into three subsections:

  1. Financing small to medium businesses looking to make development-related investments in low-income countries. These are companies located in the Netherlands, investing in business in other countries.
  2. Financing enterprises within low-income countries. These are small businesses in other countries that a Dutch company will support.
  3. Financing small to medium businesses wanting to export to low-income countries. These are Dutch companies exporting to other countries.

This Netherlands based loan fund is comprised of 700 million Euros from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Out of the total loans, 20 percent of the funding goes towards businesses in fragile states, and another 20 percent goes to women entrepreneurs.  The funding applies to 66 countries throughout the globe, all of which have emerging markets and low incomes.

The program was launched in 2014, and has yet to make any significant progress. The idea is promising—helping us while helping others—but it does not seem to be working as efficiently as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had hoped. By targeting small businesses, the waves of success are inherently smaller.

These small waves of success, however, could amount to something big. The Dutch Good Fun Program is still only in its second year and it has already reached out to over 66 countries, helping their own local economy and boosting the morale of small business entrepreneurs. This is a program to watch out for.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Agripro Focus, Berenschot, Centre of Research on Multinational Corporations, Government of Netherlands
Photo: GNBCC

Ramadan entails a month of spiritual reflection and increased devotion for practicing Muslims, and the predominant custom is fasting from dawn until sunset. But this can be a taxing requirement for those who find it difficult to feed themselves on a daily basis, such as those in the poor communities of Gambia. Luckily, the Netherlands is pitching in to help Muslims in Gambia celebrate the holy month.

The International Humanitarian Hulporganisatie Netherlands (IHHNL) donated and distributed food aid to Muslims in Gambia throughout the month of Ramadan. The items included 32 rams, 500 25-kg bags of rice, 500 five-liter gallons of cooking oil and 500 10-kg bags of sugar. IHHNL also provided a local well for the community.

The donation was made by IHHNL in collaboration with the Gambian Cemiyatul Hayr Relief Organization (CHRO), and the foodstuffs were apportioned among 23 Gambian villages. The presentation and slaughtering of the rams took place at Kiang Kwinella village in Gambia’s Lower River Region.

The joint IHHNL-CHRO program was intended to provide gifts and food to help those in need participate in the Ramadan festivities and traditions, especially considering Ramadan is a month dedicated to sharing and compassion. Alkalo Lamin Manjang, a speaker at the presentation in Kwinella village, thanked IHHNL for being a “true friend” to the poor of Gambia.

Alhagie Demba Sanyang, the Chief of Kiang Central, thanked the organization for doing “everything possible to ensure the entire district enjoys meat with their families… specially in Ramadan.” The Chief and the community presented IHHNL with a certificate of appreciation for their contributions to the poor.

The donors from IHHNL spoke of their wish to help the needy in Africa in places without war and thanked the Gambian government for such a peaceful environment where the presentation of such donations could be made possible.

The IHHNL and CHRO have been collaborating on aid efforts such as this for more than ten years. According to CHRO Country Director Musa Jallow, the IHHNL learned of the CHRO in 2003 and agreed with its operating structure. The two organizations “restarted their operations and went into formal agreement with all codes of conduct to be adhered by both organizations.” Since 2003, they have been working together to provide and distribute food aid packages to Gambians, usually during Ramadan.

Because of the IHNHL and CHRO’s efforts, even the poor and needy of Gambia can participate in the fasting of Ramadan, knowing that there will be adequate food available at nightfall.

Mari LeGagnoux

Sources: All Africa, The Point
Photo: Biyokulule