Living abroad is growing in popularity as people try and fulfil their travel cravings whilst earning a good living. It can be a daunting prospect, you have to overcome language barriers and have the difficult decision of where to live. 

The experts at  William Russell have taken a deep dive into the most empowering countries for females to live and work.  
In order to score countries and rank them, the team looked at a number of factors to create the Female Empowerment Score including: 
  • Gender Pay Gap

  • The proportion of women who achieve tertiary education

  • The length of paid maternity leave

  • Female representation in government

The countries with the largest proportion of highly educated women: 



% Women Achieved Tertiary Education


























United States





  • Israel has by far the highest proportion of women who have achieved tertiary level education, at 88.0%! Other countries don’t even come close to achieving this extremely high rate of education. 
  • Canada has the second-highest level of tertiary education among women at 64.4%. This indicates a highly engaged female population that can challenge the status quo and steer the country towards a more progressive and equal society.
  • Finland takes third place for women in tertiary education, with 51.3% having reached this level of studies.

The 10 best countries for female empowerment: 



Female Empowerment Score 































  • Iceland tops our list as the most female-friendly place to live and work, with a female empowerment score of 7.64. This Nordic island nation is well known for its progressive views and welcoming culture with more than half of adult women having achieved tertiary education such as a university degree. 
  • Another Nordic country makes the top three, as Finland snags second place with a score of 7.62. Finland has achieved excellent representation for women in its government, with 50% of all ministerial positions being occupied by women.

  • Ireland takes third place in our ranking, with a female empowerment score of 7.22. Ireland has a relatively low gender wage gap of 7.99% and a very competitive 182 days of paid maternity leave for new mothers. 

The research also reveals: 
  • The average gender wage gap around the world is 12.28%, the UK is above that with 16.01%.

  • The length of paid maternity leave is different all around the world, the average is 103.6 days. The UK is less than half of that with 42 days, Slovakia gives the most with 238 days. 

  • The % of women who achieved tertiary education in the UK (47.7%), is higher than the global average (40.7%). Israel is at the top with 88%.

  • The global average for the proportion of women in ministerial positions is 34.44%. The UK is beneath that with 23.81%, whereas Belgium comes out on top with 57.14%.


Government announces plans to make the right to request flexible working a day one right, as well as new entitlements for unpaid carers 

23rd Sept 2021: Every employee in Great Britain will be given the right to request flexible working – regardless of time served – under government plans to modernise the way we work.

Under the plans – delivering on a commitment set out in the government’s 2019 manifesto – around 2.2 million more people will be given the right to request flexible working.

Read and respond to the consultation: Making flexible working the default

The proposals consider whether limiting an employee’s application for flexible working to one per year continues to represent the best balance between individual and business needs. The consultation also looks at cutting the current 3-month period an employer has to consider any request.

If an employer cannot accommodate a request, as can be the case, they would need to think about what alternatives they could offer – for example, if they couldn’t change their employee’s hours on all working days, they could consider making the change for certain days instead.

The consultation looks at a range of flexible working methods such as job-sharing, flexitime, compressed, annualised and staggered hours, as well as phased retirement – not just working from home. It allows employees to balance their work and home life, including helping people who are managing childcare commitments or other caring responsibilities as well as ensuring that people who are under-represented in Britain’s workforce, such as new parents or disabled people, have access to more opportunities.

The proposals are also good for British business. Research has shown companies that embrace flexible working can attract more talent, improve staff motivation and reduce staff turnover – boosting their business’s productivity and competitiveness.

However, there are some circumstances where businesses will not be able to offer flexible working. That’s why the government is clear that they should still be able to reject a request if they have sound business reasons and will also respect freedom of contract rather than prescribing specific arrangements in legislation.

Today’s proposals instead provide a framework to encourage conversations and balance the needs of employees and employers.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

Empowering workers to have more say over where and when they work makes for more productive businesses and happier employees.

It was once considered a ‘nice to have’, but by making requests a day one right, we’re making flexible working part of the DNA of businesses across the country.

A more engaged and productive workforce, a higher calibre of applicants and better retention rates – the business case for flexible working is compelling.

The proposed changes would also mean that all applicants will know they can ask for flexible working before applying for a job. Equally, employers will need to consider whether they can offer flexible working before advertising.

Alongside clear benefits to workers, there is a compelling business case for flexible working. Benefits include:

  • attracting top talent - 87% of people want to work flexibly, rising to 92% for young people
  • a highly motivated, productive workforce - 9 in 10 employees consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity at work – ranking it as more important than financial incentives. Employers have reported seeing improvements in staff motivation and employee relations
  • more competitive business environment - the CBI Employment Trends survey found that 99% of all businesses surveyed believed that a flexible workforce is vital or important to competitiveness and the prospects for business investment and job creation

This comes as the government also announces that it will be fulfilling another 2019 manifesto commitment to give unpaid carers who are balancing a job in addition to caring for a dependant with long-term needs one week’s unpaid leave, as a day one right.

The move is set to benefit millions of people – with figures suggesting that around 5 million people across the UK are providing unpaid care, with nearly half doing so while also working full-time or part-time.

Labour Markets Minister Paul Scully said:

Millions of people face the dual challenge of balancing full or part-time work with other responsibilities such as caring for loved ones.

By introducing one week of additional leave for unpaid carers, we will give these unsung heroes greater flexibility to help them better manage their personal and working lives, while giving them greater access to the job market.

The government response to the consultation on carer’s leave will confirm key elements of what the leave entitlement will look like:

  • one working week of unpaid carer’s leave (per employee, per year) will be available as a day one right to those managing caring responsibilities for those with long-term care needs alongside work
  • eligibility, both in terms of who the employee is caring for and how the leave can be used, will be broadly defined
  • the leave will be available to take flexibly (from half day blocks to a whole week)
  • there will not be an extensive administrative process to ensure legitimacy of requests to take Carer’s Leave as the leave is unpaid

The measure will also look to balance the needs of the employee with the employer, with a minimum notice period of twice the length of time being taken, plus one day (in line with annual leave notice periods).

Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss said:

As we move beyond the pandemic, we must seize the opportunity to make flexible working an option for everyone.

No-one should be held back in their career because of where they live, what house they can afford, or their responsibility to family.

I want everyone to have the same opportunities regardless of the background or location. This is the right thing to do for workers, families and our economy.

Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

Juggling work with caring for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill is a demanding balancing act and without support from employers can be too much to manage.

Carers UK’s own research shows that pre-pandemic, every single day more than 600 people across the UK were giving up work to care for a loved one – with a devastating impact on their personal finances and at a huge cost to the wider UK economy.

Giving employees with caring responsibilities a legal right to unpaid carer’s leave and the ability to request flexible working from day one of starting their job is an important step forward for UK workers and could make a difference to millions – enabling carers to support their relatives whilst staying in work, maintaining social connections and improving their financial stability.

James Timpson, Chief Executive of Timpson Group said:

People are our greatest asset as a business. I focus a lot of my time in creating a great culture, with a big part of that making sure colleagues feel empowered to work in a way that best suits them and also delivers for us.

Giving workers more choice about how they work will not only inspire and motivate staff, it will also help businesses attract and retain the best talent to grow their companies.

Tim Bailey, Zurich UK’s CEO said:

We welcome the launch of this consultation. Zurich has been a flexible working employer for over a decade with employees now benefiting from a hybrid approach to working arrangements. As the first company in the UK to advertise all vacancies with the option of part time, full time, job share or flexible working, we’ve seen more than double the number of applicants from men and women for new roles.

By offering roles that fit flexibly around family life, employers open the doors to a much wider pool of untapped talent. This will also help people progress into higher paid jobs whilst fitting other commitments around their careers. Workers want a new deal and there’s a danger that businesses that don’t get on board, won’t be able to compete for the best candidates.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development said:

The government’s consultation on giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one of employment is a welcome move to help create more inclusive workplaces.

Learning from the pandemic, many organisations are now open to more hybrid ways of working which give their employees greater say over where and how they work. But the reality for those whose roles can only be done at their place of work - such as restaurants, warehouses or hospitals - is that they often have very little flexibility.

We believe a day one right to request flexible working will help broaden the accessibility of all types of flexible working, including flexibility in hours as well as location. In turn this will boost inclusion, wellbeing and performance which is beneficial to both employers and employees alike.

Paul Hamer, Chief Executive of Sir Robert McAlpine, said:

Sir Robert McAlpine welcomes the consultation from government to allow employees to request flexible working from day one – a step in the right direction for the UK workforce and businesses alike. We strongly believe that at the core of every successful business is a motivated and happy workforce, and this means encouraging a flexible working culture to shake off the constraints of traditional and rigid working arrangements.

José Luiz Rossi, Managing Director, Experian UK & Ireland said:

We welcome the government’s focus on flexible working. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a fundamental shift in our ways of working and, while we don’t yet have all of the answers, we view the pandemic as an opportunity to adopt new ways of working where the majority of our workforce are given flexibility to work to a pattern that suits them regardless. It is important we give colleagues choice and flexibility to work in the most effective and beneficial way possible. We know more flexibility is what most colleagues want and we also see the benefits in collaborating in our offices when required.

government committed to consult to make flexible working the default unless employers have a good reason not to in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto. See the consultation Making flexible working the default

while the consultation focuses on contractual flexible working arrangements, the government recognises that people don’t always need something so formal to help them balance their home and work life. A call for evidence will be launched looking at the sorts of ad hoc or informal flexibility people may need – for example, to attend a one-off appointment

employees with 26 weeks continuous service have a right to request flexible working under existing legislation. An employer can currently reject a request for specified business reasons such as:

  • extra costs that will be a burden on the business
  • the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
  • people cannot be recruited to do the work
  • flexible working will negatively affect quality
  • flexible working will negatively affect performance
  • the business’ ability to meet customer demand will be negatively affected
  • there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
  • the business is planning structural changes

Type of flexible working include:

  • job sharing: two people do one job and split the hours
  • part time: working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days)
  • compressed hours: working full-time hours but over fewer days
  • flexitime: the employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example 10am to 4pm every day
  • annualised hours: the employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work
  • staggered hours: the employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.
  • working from home: it might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work
  • phased retirement: older workers can choose when they want to retire, meaning they can reduce their hours and work part time

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page