World Bank Lists 40 Economies with Reforms on Women Empowerment

The regulatory environment for women’s economic participation has improved over the past two years, but Nigeria is missing mention among 40 countries that enacted 62 reforms that will help women.

The women– half of the world’s population, would need the reforms to realise their potential and contribute to economic growth and development, a new World Bank study has said.

Still, the results are uneven, as women in many countries have only a fraction of the legal rights of men, holding back their economic and social development.

The study, “Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020”, measures 190 economies, tracking how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city.

It covers reforms in eight areas that are associated with women’s economic empowerment, conducted from June 2017 to September 2019, precisely on mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension.

In Nigeria, while the financial inclusion level is on the upswing, it is mostly men that are captured into the system, while women, across regions of the country are setback by religious, cultural and educational factors, limiting their potential.

The World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said legal rights for women are both the right thing to do and good from an economic perspective. When women can move more freely, work outside the home and manage assets, they are more likely to join the workforce and help strengthen their country’s economies.

“We stand ready to help until every woman can move through her life without facing legal barriers to her success.”

The WBL index measures only formal laws and the regulations, which govern a woman’s ability to work or own businesses– a country’s actual norms and practices are not captured. The global average score was 75.2, which improved slightly from 73.9 two years ago.

Clearly, much more work remains as women in many countries have only a fraction of the legal rights of men, holding them back from opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.

While Nigeria may have attained some of the reforms, with the majority being mere norms and practices, lack of full legislative backing and implementation still challenge the achievement of the targets, while women’s economic participation continue to under-perform.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 11 economies implemented 16 reforms in seven areas, but the Democratic Republic of Congo introduced social insurance maternity benefits and equalized retirement ages, while in Côte d’Ivoire, spouses now have equal rights to own and manage property.

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