Gender equality is a critical component of economic growth and yet it is still far from a reality. We still have the gender pay gap, which shows no signs of closing any time soon, and many other things that affect women.
To develop a better understanding of how women’s employment and entrepreneurship are affected by legal discrimination, the World Bank released a new report called ”Women, Business and the Law 2019: the report examines ten years of data through an index structured around the economic decisions women make as they go through their working lives. From a 25-year-old getting her first job or a mother balancing work with caring for her children, to a woman on the brink of retirement, the index explores how the economic decisions women make are affected by the law.
The report examined the laws relating to women’s ability to work in 187 countries, as well as the reforms these countries have made over the past 10 years. The World Bank ranked each country on a scale of zero to 100 in eight different categories, and took factors like sexual harassment in the workplace, paid parental leave, women’s rights to divorce their husbands, and women’s rights to property into account.
The data show there has been great progress towards legal gender equality over the past decade. In 131 economies there have been 274 reforms to laws and regulations, leading to an increase in gender equality. This includes the 35 economies that implemented laws on workplace sexual harassment, protecting nearly two billion more women than a decade ago. But the average global score is 74.71, indicating that a typical economy only gives women three-quarters the rights of men in the measured areas.
Progress in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa had the most reforms of any region with 71 over the past decade. Though this is in part a measure of the large number of economies in the region, it also demonstrates room for improvement from their baseline.
More than half the reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa were in Starting a Job and Getting Married. Within each of these indicators, the biggest areas of reform were on laws affecting gender-based violence. Five economies—Burundi, the Comoros, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe and Zambia—introduced laws on both workplace sexual harassment and domestic violence. A further seven legislated against workplace sexual harassment, and eight economies introduced domestic violence laws.
Also, the average score in Africa is 69.62, indicating that on average there is gender inequality in more than one quarter of the areas examined. However, all the ten economies below—scored above 80, meaning that women are almost on equal legal standing with men across all eight indicators in these economies.
Top 10 Best African Countries for Women Entrepreneurs
Women, Business and the Law
The World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law examines laws and regulations affecting women’s prospects as entrepreneurs and employees across 187 economies. Its goal is to inform policy discussions on how to remove legal restrictions on women and promote research on how to improve women’s economic inclusion.