Not everyone views freedom the same way. According to a survey of 38 nations by the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of people believe that living in a country with religious freedom, a free press, free speech and competitive elections is important. But which of the principles are valued as “very important” varies, both regionally and nationally.


Citizens were asked how important they found freedom of religion, women’s rights, open elections and various forms of freedom of speech. In Europe, women’s rights and free elections were considered very important, while feelings were mixed regarding freedom of religion. Less than 60% of citizens in France, Spain and Poland considered this right very important.

The United States was the most liberal nation, with respondents placing high importance on all categories.

On a wider scale, the most important right was deemed around the world to be religious freedom, with a global median of 74%. Support for women’s rights was strong throughout Europe, the US and South America, but was given less importance in other regions, bringing the global median down to just 64%.

Global support for freedom of speech barely made it past 50%. When asked if they considered it very important that people, the media or the internet remain uncensored, few countries rose above the 60% mark. Support for freedom of speech was strongest in the US and Latin America. Notable exceptions in the rest of the world included Germany, Spain and Lebanon.


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Author: Donald Armbrecht is a freelance writer and social media producer.

Image: A woman leaves a voting booth. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal