India placed 117th among 190 countries on the the Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020 index to measure economic empowerment of women, released by World Bank on January 14, 2020.
The world’s most populous democracy scored 74.4 on a par with Benin and Gambia and way below least developed countries like Rwanda and Lesotho. The global average was 75.2 — a slight increase from 73.9 in the previous index released in 2017.
The study tracked “how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city”. The Index is based on the countries’ formal laws and regulations that have a bearing on women’s economic participation, covering eight areas (eg, parenthood, equality of pay). A survey was conducted between June 2017 and September 2019.
“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,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in Washington, DC.
Since the last survey two years ago, the world has progressed on ensuring economic participation of women. The regulatory environment for women’s economic participation has improved over the past two years, with 40 economies enacting 62 reforms that will help women realise their potential and contribute to economic growth and development, World Bank said.
Countries in ‘Middle East and North Africa’ and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ accounted for nine of the 10 top progressing countries on the WBL Index:
- Saudi Arabia
- The United Arab Emirates
- South Sudan
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- The Democratic Republic of Congo
No economy in ‘East Asia and the Pacific’, ‘Europe and Central Asia’, or ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ were among top reformers, the report claimed.
Only eight economies scored a perfect 100 — Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden. Those countries have ensured equal legal standing to men and women on all the eight indicators of the index.