The World Bank has recently released the “Women, Business and the Law” report. Women, Business and the Law (WBL) measures gender inequality in the law. The dataset identifies barriers to women’s economic participation and encourages the reform of discriminatory laws.
“Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform” introduces a new index measuring legal rights for women throughout their working lives in 187 economies. The index is composed of 35 data points grouped into eight indicators. The data covers a 10-year period not only to understand the current situation but to see how laws affecting women’s equality of opportunity have evolved over time.
Achieving gender equality is not a short-term process, requiring strong political will and a concerted effort by governments, civil society, international organizations among others, but legal and regulatory reforms can play a foundational role as an important first step.
Progress over the last ten years in the areas measured by the index has been significant. During this time, the global average has risen from 70 to 75. 131 economies have made 274 reforms to laws and regulations that improve women’s economic inclusion. 35 countries implemented legal protections against sexual harassment at work, protecting nearly two billion more women than a decade ago. 22 economies removed restrictions on women’s work, reducing the likelihood that women are kept out of working in certain sectors of the economy. And 13 economies introduced laws mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value.
Six economies – Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden – now hold perfect scores of 100, meaning they give women and men equal legal rights in the measured areas. A decade ago, no economy could make that claim. Under this index, economies that conducted reforms experienced bigger increases in the percentage of women working overall, leading to women’s economic empowerment.
Download the full World Bank report here.