World gender equality improved over past decade: Report

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Most of the world has moved towards gender equality over the past decade, according to the new Women Business and the Law (WBL) index.

The index showed that ten years ago, the global equality average score was 70.06 (out of 100), however, since then 131 economies made 274 legal changes towards gender equality.

This led to a 4.65 point increase in the average global score, to 74.71 today, it said while describing it a significant achievement. However, it added that women still have only three-fourths of the legal rights of men in the measured areas.

According to WBL index, all regions of the world improved on average towards gender equality over the past decade, and six countries, Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden, now have a perfect score of 100, meaning that the law treats men and women equally along all the dimensions measured.

No economy was gender equal under the law a decade ago, it added.

But, the report added, this improvement was not equal across regions. The average improvement was the highest in the South Asia region, followed by the East Asia and the Pacific and the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

The Middle East and North Africa region had the smallest movement towards gender equality, over the past 10 years.

This region is also the part of the world where laws are most unequal between men and women. Consequently, the gap between the Middle East and North Africa region and the rest of the world became bigger, despite some absolute improvement.

Each region also had a different pattern of reforms.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the most reforms were in starting a job and getting married. Within each of these indicators the biggest areas of reform were on laws around gender-based violence. Five economies, for example, introduced laws on both workplace sexual harassment and domestic violence.

Gender-based violence laws were also a focus of reform in East Asia and the Pacific, where nine economies reformed in Getting Married by introducing laws on domestic violence, and in South Asia, where six economies reformed in Starting a Job by introducing laws on workplace sexual harassment.

Economies in Europe and Central Asia reformed the most in Getting a Pension. Of the 11 economies in the region that reformed in this indicator, nine are currently equalizing the ages at which men and women can retire with full pension benefits.

OECD high-income economies and economies in Latin America and the Caribbean had the most reforms in having children. In OECD high-income economies, the reforms focused on introducing paid paternity and parental leave, while in Latin America and the Caribbean, reforms were more likely to extend maternity leave.

In the Middle East and North Africa, the biggest area of reform was getting married, where four economies reformed by introducing domestic violence laws.

While progress has been made, women in many parts of the world still face discriminatory laws and regulations at every point in their working life.

Over the past decade, 56 countries, spanning all income levels and regions, enacted no reforms at all to improve women’s equality of opportunity.

The report expected that this new index will inform decision making regarding policy reform and private investment, as well as support research on institutions and regulations, so that women will be able to make good economic choices for themselves and their families.