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Women, Business and the Law 2021

World Bank Group




Workplace Gender Equality

Women's economic empowerment Workplace Gender Equality Women's rights covid-19 Women’s legal equality Gendered laws

Women, Business and the Law 2021

Women, Business and the Law 2021

Women, Business and the Law (WBL) provides policy makers with actionable benchmarks on women’s economic opportunity and further evidence of the relationship between legal gender equality and economic outcomes. In economies where women face less discrimination under the law, greater progress has been made in closing the gender gap in women’s employment and entrepreneurship, among other outcomes.

This World Bank report is the seventh in a series of annual studies measuring the laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunity in 190 countries. Using data collected between Sept. 2, 2019 to Oct. 1, 2020, this report presents the countries’ overall WBL score— an unweighted average of eight indicator scores—on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the highest. The indicators used to compute a country’s WBL score are mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.

This 2021 report also presents compelling findings on gender-sensitive government responses to COVID-19, as well as pilot research on women’s access to affordable and quality childcare and enhancing women’s access to justice. The two topics, being critical to women’s economic inclusion, are being explored for addition to the index in future editions.

Key Insights

  • Better performance in the areas measured by the Women, Business and the Law index is associated with a narrower gender gap in development outcomes, higher female labour force participation, lower vulnerable employment, and greater representation of women in national parliaments.
  • On average, women have just three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men.
  • Ten economies—Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Sweden—score 100 on the Women, Business and the Law index.
  • Since 2019, 27 economies from all regions have enacted reforms increasing gender equality and increased good practice legislation in 45 instances.
  • Most reforms introduced or amended laws affecting pay and parenthood. There were no reforms addressing gender differences in property and inheritance as measured by the Assets indicator.
  • The Middle East and North Africa and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) high-income economies improved their laws the most in 2019/20.
  • Over the last 50 years, three regions—OECD high income, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa—have seen a record gain in their average scores of more than 30 points.
  • By region, OECD high-income economies score the highest in the latest report, followed by Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and East Asia and the Pacific.
  • East Asia and the Pacific region’s average score of 71.9 is lower than the global average of 76.1. Among the economies wherein Investing in Women operates, Vietnam (81.9, up from the previous year’s 78.8) and the Philippines (78.8, down from 81.3) scored above average; meanwhile, Indonesia (no change at 64.4) and Myanmar (no change at 58.8) scored below-average.Notably, Vietnam has made job opportunities more equal for men and women by eliminating discriminatory restrictions on women’s employment in jobs deemed dangerous. The Philippines, though it did not enact any new policy reforms, scored a perfect 100 in workplace, pay, and entrepreneurship—it is also one of three countries that created online platforms to assist women seeking help from gender-based violence. Indonesia, for its part, launched psychiatric health services through which the government assisted women and child survivors of domestic violence who were affected by COVID-19.

This Report was originally published on the World Bank’s website.

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