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Women, business and the law 2024

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World Bank Group
Publication Date: 
4 Mar 2024

Executive Summary

The global gender gap for women’s economic opportunities is significantly wider than previously thought. Although countries across the world have made substantial progress in enacting laws to provide equal opportunity for women, half of humanity—3.9 billion women worldwide—face legal barriers affecting their economic participation. 

Women, Business and the Law 2024 introduces new measurements to track global progress toward legal gender equality in 190 economies. The 10th in a series, it presents two sets of data: Women, Business and the Law 1.0 and an expanded version, Women, Business and the Law 2.0 (box ES.1 and figure ES.1). Women, Business and the Law 1.0 updates data for the original eight indicators with reforms undertaken by economies over the last year (chapter 1). Women, Business and the Law 2.0 introduces a new framework for measuring the enabling environment for women’s economic opportunities (chapter 2). For the first time, it goes beyond the measurement of laws— de jure—and examines the existence of frameworks supporting implementation of the law and gauging experts’ opinions on the outcome of the law for women—de facto. Following the “structure-process-outcome” model, Women, Business and the Law 2.0 measures three pillars: legal rights (structure), supportive frameworks (process), and experts’ opinions on the law in practice (outcome) (table ES.1 and table ES.A.1). 

Women, Business and the Law 2.0 finds that women have about two-thirds of the rights of men and that nowhere in the world do women have the same legal rights as men in all of the indicators measured. The global average Women, Business and the Law 2.0 legal frameworks score is 64.2 out of 100, indicating a significant gap in gender equality under the law. Remarkably, none of the 190 economies examined has achieved legal gender parity in the areas measured and thus no economy receives a score of 100 (figure ES.2).