The World Bank Group has released a new report aimed at rectifying some of the worst inequities faced by women around the world. The report Women, Business and the Law, attempts to quantify the legal barriers faced by women in opening and operating a business or in participating in the labor force. The report's headline finding is unsettling: out of 128 economies around the world, only 20 have equal rights for women and men in 9 areas measured by the report.
In developed countries, women still face a glass ceiling in reaching the top echelon of the corporate world. At an event held at the World Bank to launch the report, Zainab Salbi, the co-founder and CEO of Women for Women International, argued that in many of the countries she has worked the obstacles facing women are more akin to trying to break through a brick ceiling.
This is a global issue, not just a women’s issue. Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, and Melanne Verveer, the United States Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women's Issues, also spoke at the event, and both emphasized the notion that investing in women is smart economics.
Women, Business and the Law presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. Both resources can inform research and policy discussions on how to improve women’s economic opportunities and outcomes.