A World Bank analysis of gender equality in the law across 187 countries found that just six countries worldwide provide women with the same legal protections as men. The results of the report marked a stark improvement from just a decade ago, when no countries managed to meet all of the World Bank’s criteria for measuring legal gender equality. But activists were hesitant to hail a result that demonstrated clearly how sexism remains legally enshrined in approximately 97 percent of the countries examined.
“Change is happening, but not fast enough, and 2.7 billion women are still legally barred from having the same choice of jobs as men,” noted World Bank Group interim president Kristalina Georgieva.
The World Bank’s new report gauged gender equity by examining 35 criteria that included property law, inheritance law, workplace protections, and equal pay legislation. Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden all managed to score a perfect 100 for legal gender equity across all 35 criteria. But on average, the report found, women only had 75 percent of the same legal rights as men worldwide. According to the World Bank, these legal inequalities effectively dissuade or in same case ban women from working, creating businesses, and getting involved in their communities. By doing so, explained Georgieva, these countries were also holding themselves back economically.
“If women have equal opportunities to reach their full potential, the world would not only be fairer, it would be more prosperous as well,” said Georgieva.
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