How Indian women fare in market economy | Updated: February 05, 2020, 8:27 IST

Two rural women taking part in their daily lives. Women business and law index by the world bank.

Women, Business and Law Index by the World Bank talks about how the existing laws and policies affect women’s inclusion in the economic sphere. It studied about participation of women in 190 countries. It tracks how the law affects women at various stages in their lives, from the basic of transportation to the challenges of starting a job and getting a pension. 

Composed of eight indicators which revolves around women’s interaction with the law as they operate in a market economy, the indicator aligns different areas of the law with the economic decision women make at various stages of their lives. The indicators are :-  

  1. Mobility - examines constraints on freedom of movement
  2. Workplace - analyses laws affecting women’s decision to work
  3. Parenthood - examines laws affecting women’s work after having children
  4. Workplace - analyses laws affecting decision to work
  5. Pay - measures laws and regulations affecting women’s pay
  6. Marriage - accesses legal constraints related marriage
  7. Entrepreneurship - analyses constraints on women starting and running business
  8. Assets - considers gender differences in property and inheritance, and
  9. Pensions - accesses law affecting the size of women’s pension

How did India fare?

While there was an increase in the average score from 73.9 in 2017 to 74.4 in 2019, the score is less than the world average of 75.2.

India's score in women business law index by the world bank.

India didn’t score well in the indicators of pay and parenthood. Thus, discriminatory laws continues to threaten women economic security, career growth, and work life.

To come to think about the performance of the world’s largest democracy, India’s score is at par with scores of Benin and Gambia, and below the scores of least developed countries like Rwanda (78.1) and Lesotho (75.6).

Among BRICS nation, India's score is only greater than that of Russia. South Africa tops the chart with 88.1 points, followed by Brazil and China.

India's comparison with BRICS nation

In South Asia, though, India came out on the top, leaving Maldives (73.8) at number two. The South Asia nation list consists of India, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. With a score of 38.1, Afghanistan scored the lowest in South Asia.

How did the world fare?

The global average score in 2019 has increased to 75.2 from 73.9 in 2017. Although 40 economies have enacted 62 reforms enhancing gender equality since 2017, on an average, women have just three-fourths of the legal rights that men have. The economies that improved the most are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, South Sudan, Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Jordan and Tunisia. With a recent reform to parental leave, Canada joins seven other economies that score 100 on women, business and the law index, namely Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden. 

Regional distribution patterns remained same as in 2017. When classified by income level, high-income economies score the highest, with an average score of 84.9, followed by upper middle-income economies with 74.9 on average. Lower-middle and low income economies have almost similar average scores of 68.8 and 67.2 respectively. 

However, one noteworthy finding is that low-income economies outperformed both middle and high income economies on the workplace and pension indicators. The report also suggests that the retirement ages are more equal between men and women in lower-income economies.