Gender equality reforms slow, says World Bank
Legal reforms toward equal rights for women around the globe fell to the slowest pace in more than two decades last year, despite positive developments in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank said on March 2.
Just 34 reforms to improve women’s economic participation were made in the year to October 2022, down from a peak of 73 in 2008, the bank said in a statement, suggesting “legal fatigue” may have set in among countries looking to reach gender equality.
At the current pace, the bank calculated that it would take at least another half century to pass the more than 1,500 legal reforms needed to reach “substantial gender equality everywhere.”
“Denying equal rights to women across much of the world is not just unfair to women; it is a barrier to countries’ ability to promote green, resilient, and inclusive development,” said the World Bank’s chief economist, Indermit Gill.
Although progress has slowed significantly in recent years, the bank has recorded a two-thirds improvement in its metric of gender equality reforms since 1970 -- and economies with historically large gaps have caught up to other countries since the turn of the century.
Last year also saw some positive developments in sub-Saharan Africa, where 18 legal changes were made to improve the rights of women in countries including Uganda, Ivory Coast and Congo-Brazzaville.