New Zealand is ranked fifth out of 130 countries for gender equality, a report produced by the World Economic Forum has found.
The annual Global Gender Index report measures the gap between men and women in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.
This year, Norway was ranked first, followed by Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
Australia ranked 21, falling four places from last year's ranking of 17.
Britain was ranked 13, falling two places from last year, and the United States improved by four to 27.
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor said it was "remarkable" that New Zealand ranked so highly.
But she said ,"we must ensure that women are not disproportionately affected by job loss and redundancies in the economic downturn".
The report found that New Zealand closed 78.59 per cent of equality gaps between men and women, while the Nordic countries closed more than 80 per cent.
The lowest ranking country, Yemen, closed a little over 45 per cent of its gender gap in 2008.
Dr McGregor said New Zealand had closed the entire gap in educational attainment, which measured the literacy rate and enrolment of males and females in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
It had closed over 97 per cent of the gap in health and survival measured by sex ratio at birth and healthy life expectancy.
New Zealand had closed more than 77 per cent of the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity, which is measured by labour force participation; wage equality for similar work; income levels and numbers of managers, professional and technical workers and law and policy makers.
Dr McGregor said New Zealand had also improved from closing around 16 per cent of the gap between men and women in political empowerment to closing over 39 per cent.
With increased numbers of women in Parliament and ministerial positions and having a female head of state - however the report was compiled before the election.
Dr McGregor said the report was important because it could track progress over time.
New Zealand was seventh in the first report and had made significant progress up the ladder in the past three years, she said.