Gender equality has been more of a national focus than usual in the United States over the past few months, thanks to the 2012 presidential election. Republican nominee Mitt Romney recently discussed the "binders full of women" that he tried to hire when he was governor of Massachusetts, and President Barack Obama touched upon the importance of "protecting women's rights" around the world during the third and final presidential debate Monday.

But how does the United States stack up against other countries when it comes to said gender equality? According to the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report, released on October 23rd by the World Economic Forum, we're only 22nd best.

The report ranks 135 countries (which collectively contain over 90 percent of the world's population) based on 14 indicators used to measure the size of a nation's gender gap in four key areas:
1. Economic participation and opportunity, which includes female labor force participation, wage equality and the percentage of women in high-ranking jobs.
2. Educational attainment, which looks at female literacy and how frequently women are enrolled in higher education.
3. Health and survival, which is measured by comparing female and male life expectancy and mortality rates.
4. Political empowerment, which examines the number of women holding political office as well as the number of female heads of state over the last 50 years.

The report gives each country a score between 0 (total inequality) and 1 (total equality) for each of the 14 indicators, then averages these scores to determine a nation's final score and thus, its ranking.

Last year, the United States ranked 17th, just behind the United Kingdom and just ahead of Canada, with a score of .7412. This year, amid a whole lot of talk about women's rights and gender equality, the U.S. is ranked 22nd with a score of .7373 (its lowest since 2009).

The U.S. did manage to close the economic gender gap further even as its other scores slipped, along with fellow major economic powers, Japan and Germany. Unsurprisingly, several Western European nations (including several Scandinavian nations, which have a well-documented history of valuing social welfare and gender equality) continue to rank at the top of the World Economic Forum's index.

The one thing these rankings make clear is that there is still a whole lot of work to be done when it comes to creating policies that will give men and women equal opportunities for living economically successful, healthy and politically engaged lives.

LOOK: The 25 Best And 25 Worst Countries For Gender Equality

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  • 1. Iceland

    2012 score: 0.8640 In 2011, Iceland ranked #1 with a score of 0.8530.

  • 2. Finland

    2012 score: 0.8451 In 2011, Finland ranked #3 with a score of 0.8383

  • 3. Norway

    2012 score: 0.8403 In 2011, Norway ranked #2 with a score of 0.8404.

  • 4. Sweden

    2012 score: 0.8159 In 2011, Sweden ranked #4 with a score of 0.8044.

  • 5. Ireland

    2012 score: 0.7839 In 2011, Ireland ranked #5 with a score of 0.7830.

  • 6. New Zealand

    2012 score: 0.7805 In 2011, New Zealand ranked #6 with a score of 0.7810.

  • 7. Denmark

    2012 score: 0.7777 In 2011, Denmark ranked #7 with a score of 0.7778.

  • 8. Philippines

    2012 score: 0.7757 In 2011, the Philippines ranked #8 with a score of 0.7685.

  • 9. Nicaragua

    2012 score: 0.7697 In 2011, Nicaragua ranked #27 with a score of 0.7245.

  • 10. Switzerland

    2012 score: 0.7672 In 2011, Switzerland ranked #10 with a score of 0.7627.

  • 11. Netherlands

    2012 score: 0.7659 In 2012, the Netherlands ranked #15 with a score of 0.7470.

  • 12. Belgium

    2012 score: 0.7652 In 2011, Belgium ranked #13 with a score of 0.7531.

  • 13. Germany

    2012 score: 0.7629 In 2011, Germany ranked #11 with a score of 0.7590.

  • 14. Lesotho

    2012 score: 0.7608 In 2011, Lesotho ranked #9 with a score of 0.7666.

  • 15. Latvia

    2012 score: 0.7572 In 2011, Latvia ranked #19 with a score of 0.7399.

  • 16. South Africa

    2012 score: 0.7496 In 2011, South Africa ranked #14 with a score of 0.7478.

  • 17. Luxembourg

    2012 score: 0.7439 In 2011, Luxembourg was ranked #30 with a score of 0.7216.

  • 18. United Kingdom

    2012 score: 0.7433 In 2011, the United Kingdom ranked #16 with a score of 0.7462.

  • 19. Cuba

    2012 score: 0.7417 In 2011, Cuba was ranked #20 with a score of 0.7394.

  • 20. Austria

    2012 score: 0.7391 In 2011, Austria ranked #34 with a score of 0.7165.

  • 21. Canada

    2012 score: 0.7381 In 2011, Canada ranked #18 with a score of 0.7407.

  • 22. United States

    2012 score: 0.7373 In 2011, the United States ranked #17 with a score of 0.7412.

  • 23. Mozambique

    2012 score: 0.7350 In 2011, Mozambique ranked #26 with a score of 0.7251.

  • 24. Burundi

    2012 score: 0.7338 In 2011, Burundi ranked #24 with a score of 0.7270.

  • 25. Australia

    2012 score: 0.7294 In 2011, Australia ranked #23 with a score of 0.7291.

  • 111. Bahrain

    2012 score: 0.6298 In 2011, Bahrain ranked #110 with a score of 0.6232.

  • 112. Cameroon

    2012 score: 0.6291 In 2011, Cameroon ranked #119 with a score of 0.6073.

  • 113. Fiji

    2012 score: 0.6285 In 2011, Fiji ranked #109 with a score of 0.6255.

  • 114. Zambia

    2012 score: 0.6279 In 2011, Zambia ranked #106 with a score of 0.6300.

  • 115. Qatar

    2012 score: 0.6264 In 2011, Qatar ranked #111 with a score of 0.6230.

  • 116. Guatemala

    2012 score: 0.6260 In 2011, Guatemala ranked #112 with a score of 0.6229.

  • 117. Benin

    2012 score: 0.6258 In 2012, Benin ranked #128 with a score of 0.5832.

  • 118. Ethiopia

    2012 score: 0.6200 In 2011, Ethiopia ranked #116 with a score of 0.6136.

  • 119. Mauritania

    2012 score: 0.6129 In 2011, Mauritania ranked #114 with a score of 0.6164.

  • 120. Algeria

    2012 score: 0.6112 In 2011, Algeria ranked #121 with a score of 0.5991.

  • 121. Jordan

    2012 score: 0.6103 In 2011, Jordan ranked #117 with a score of 0.6117.

  • 122. Lebanon

    2012 score: 0.6030 In 2011, Lebanon ranked #118 with a score of 0.6083.

  • 123. Nepal

    2012 score: 0.6026 In 2011, Nepal ranked #126 with a score of 0.5888.

  • 124. Turkey

    2012 score: 0.6015 In 2011, Turkey ranked #122 with a score of 0.5954.

  • 125. Oman

    2012 score: 0.5986 In 2011, Oman ranked #127 with a score of 0.5873.

  • 126. Egypt

    2012 score: 0.5975 In 2011, Egypt ranked #123 with a score of 0.5933.

  • 127. Iran

    2012 score: 0.5927 In 2011, Iran ranked #125 with a score of 0.5894.

  • 128. Mali

    2012 score: 0.5842 In 2011, Mali ranked #132 with a score of 0.5752.

  • 129. Morocco

    2012 score: 0.5833 In 2011, Morocco ranked #129 with a score of 0.5804.

  • 130. Côte d'Ivoire

    2012 score: 0.5785 In 2011, Côte d'Ivoire ranked #130 with a score of 0.5773.

  • 131. Saudi Arabia

    2012 score: 0.5731 In 2011, Saudi Arabia ranked #131 with a score of 0.5753.

  • 132. Syria

    2012 score: 0.5626 In 2011, Syria ranked #124 with a score of 0.5896.

  • 133. Chad

    2012 score: 0.5594 In 2011, Chad ranked #134 with a score of 0.5334.

  • 134. Pakistan

    2012 score: 0.5478 In 2011, Pakistan ranked #133 with a score of 0.5583.

  • 135. Yemen

    2012 score: 0.5054 In 2011, Yemen ranked #135 with a score of 0.4873.




WATCH: HuffPost Live Discusses The 2012 Global Gender Gap Report