The world’s safest country for women travelling alone is not a Nordic country.
The Nordic countries have a reputation of being the world's smallest, safest and gender equal societies. However, over the years countries like Denmark has seen a sharp decline in safety, particularly if one considers its pervasive rape culture. Sweden has also had some issues pertaining to the safety of women in particular with the uptake of sexual assault cases over recent years.
We asked Twitter which country they think is the world’s safest for women:
Iceland wins hands down!
Yes, you are right in a sense. The world’s overall safest country is the Nordic Atlantic country of Iceland. This is a country where people leave their babies happily napping in their strollers outside coffee shops, while mommy meets up with friends. It’s that safe.
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However, it is not one of the world’s 50 most visited destinations at the moment.
A recent survey conducted by Asher Fergusson gave us a list of the world’s safest and least safe destinations for women travelling alone, based on the 50 most visited destinations around the globe. Each destination was rated and ranked in its Women’s Danger Index according to criteria like ‘Is it safe to walk there at night?’ to degree of ‘Non-intimate partner violence’.
Countries like South Africa, Iran, Brazil and Egypt ranked very low in terms of solo female travel safety, particularly because it scored very high in terms of violence against women and gender inequality.
Spain came out on top as the world’s safest destination for solo women travellers, while it came as no surprise that Singapore, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland closely followed.
Why Spain in particular, though?
Though Spain's Gini Coefficient of social inequality is not one of the world's highest, the land of Sangria and tapas scored very low in terms of direct threats to women's safety, i.e. walking alone at night is safe, violence (whether partner or non-partner inflicted) against women and the intentional homicide of women showed low frequency.
Sure, there is still a global gender gap in Spain pertaining to pay, etc. but this doesn't necessarily impact directly on the safety of solo female travellers.
A writer for Quora makes a great point, though with regards to measuring safety while travelling: "Culture will never keep you safe from one idiot."
Not just an idiot, but an incident, a terrorist attack, a violation, etc. British woman, Anni Dewani was murdered in South Africa. South African woman, Parus Pillay was murdered in The Netherlands earlier this year, and there has been a few killings of travellers in New Zealand over the last few years.
Whether it's someone from that culture or another, you basically never know who or what might cross your path when travelling.
READ: Should you choose Mauritius, Zanzibar or Reunion for your first solo adventure?
This study basically renders South Africa a war-zone. Should women stop travelling to SA alone? Or to Brazil or Egypt and just stick to the 'safer countries' when trekking the globe solo? No. Women who travel or want to travel alone in the future, shouldn't stop doing so just because of these findings.
The most important thing to do is to prepare yourself for what you're about to walk/fly/journey into, e.g. research the destination and decide whether your first-ever trip alone should be to a country that has a very bad history of gender inequality.
If you are an amateur solo traveller, you might not be as street smart and savvy as someone who has travelled the globe alone for years. It's important to know your limits and to remember that using a tactic like telling an over-friendly man that you have a partner or husband, doesn't mean your bowing to the the powers that be, but rather it's a smart way to protect yourself in a place where you have to play by the rules of others.
Here's an infographic of the entire study done by Asher Fergusson: