Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform examines ten years of Women, Business and the Law data through an index structured around the economic decisions women make as they go through different stages of their working lives. With the understanding that women’s access to employment and entrepreneurial activity is related to many factors, this World Bank study focuses on how women must navigate discriminatory laws and regulations at every point in their careers, limiting their equality of opportunity.
The study finds that Sub-Saharan Africa had the most reforms promoting gender equality. Six of the top reforming economies are in sub-Saharan Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe and Zambia. The high number of top reformers from sub-Saharan Africa is in part due to the large number of economies in the region, but this also demonstrates the significant room for improvement these economies had from their baseline. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa had the third highest increase in the index’s average regional score, moving from 64.04 to 69.63 over ten years, an increase of 5.59 points.
By laying a roadmap for progress over time and identifying potential areas for reform, this study both celebrates the progress that has been achieved and emphasizes the work that remains. To build on this work, the timeseries developed here will be extended in order to further research on the interaction between inequality of opportunity for women and labor market dynamics.