This indicator measures the government’s commitment to promoting gender equality by providing women and men with the same legal ability to access legal and public institutions, own property, go to court, and get a job; and measures the extent to which the law provides girls and women legal protection from violence.
Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction
This indicator draws from six areas of the Women Business and the Law (WBL) report: Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Entrepreneurship, and Assets. It also draws questions from WBL’s additional data including questions from these areas and one additional area around a woman’s rights in court. Each of these areas has a clear relationship to growth and poverty reduction:
- Mobility: These questions explore women’s legal access to physical mobility within a country. Studies show that legally sanctioned gender inequality has a significant negative impact on a country’s economic growth, because it prevents a large portion the population from fully participating in the economy, thus lowering the average ability of the workforce. 1
- Workplace: These questions explore specific barriers to women’s opportunities in the workplace. Sexual harassment and violence in the workplace can undermine women’s economic empowerment by preventing employment and blocking access to other financial resources. 2 Research shows that when women have access to employment, investment in children’s health, nutrition, and education often increases, promoting higher levels of human capital. 3
- Pay: These questions look at barriers to women’s pay equality. Restrictions on working hours, sectors, and occupations limit the range of jobs that women can hold and this lead to occupational segregation and confinement of women to low-paying sectors and activities. 4 Many jobs prohibited for women are in highly paid industries, which can have implications for their earning potential. Further, when women are excluded from “male” jobs in the formal sector, an overcrowding can occur in the “female” informal job sector. This leads to a depression of wages for an otherwise productive group of workers. 5 Increasing women’s participation in the workforce alone is insufficient for increased economic growth. 6 Women need access to the same job and pay opportunities in order to have an impact on economic growth. 7
- Marriage: These questions look at women’s equality in marriage including questions on domestic violence, and child marriage. Research shows the earnings of women in formal wage work who are exposed to severe partner violence are significantly lower than women who do not experience such violence. 8 Similarly, due to the typically large age differences between girls younger than 18 and their husbands, child brides lack bargaining power in the marriage and have less say over their activities and choices, including education and economic activity. 9 Child marriage–through reduced decision-making power, greater likelihood of school dropout and illiteracy, lower labor force participation and earnings, and less control over productive household assets—severely impedes the economic opportunities of young women. 10
- Entrepreneurship: This area explores barriers to women’s ability to start businesses. When one gender receives fewer legal rights, both the country’s potential labor force and potential pool of entrepreneurs decreases. Women’s ability to start businesses and create jobs is essential to increase economic growth and alleviate poverty. 11
- Assets: This area analyzes women’s ability to own, control, and inherit property. Owning and having an equal say in their use of property not only increases women’s financial security; it is also associated with their increased bargaining power within the household. 12
- Legal: This area deals with women’s constitutional rights, rights to pass on citizenship, and rights in court. Women’s testimonial parity increases equality before the law and protects them in case of legal challenges to contracts and other matters of economic importance where they must give testimony to prove their case. 13 For many women in rural areas, customary and religious law can override constitutional protections for equality and legal rights. 14 Where these laws can override constitutional protections, all of the other benefits to economic growth and poverty reduction provided by other concepts covered in this indicator are nullified. 15
The Gender in the Economy indicator utilizes 40 questions from the Women, Business, and the Law initiative of the World Bank and assigns points to the response received for a country on each question.
MCC adds the number of legal restrictions against women on the sub-indicators listed below. The total number of restrictions (or absence of protections against violence) become the country’s score on MCC’s scorecard. On this indicator, a lower score is better.
In 2020, WBL changed the wording, layout, and disaggregation of their data slightly. While MCC’s Gender in the Economy indicator and its underlying questions have not changed for FY21, there have been minor changes to the construction of the indicator to accommodate WBL’s changes. The exact construction of the Gender in the Economy indicator for FY21 is described below.
For FY21, MCC uses questions featured in both WBL’s main index and WBL’s additional data files, drawing from the most recent year for each data source (2019 for the additional data; 2020 for the main index.) Sub-indicators pulled from the additional data file are marked with a + below.
Sub-indicators marked with a * below were previously disaggregated between married and unmarried women. In FY21, WBL aggregated most of these data, and noted that restrictions on these sub-indicators usually apply only to married women (the additional data remains disaggregated). WBL published notes in the About tab on this reporting change, as well as two cases in the main data where the restrictions apply to both married and unmarried women. Countries receive ½ point for each of these if they apply only to married or unmarried women; 1 point if they apply to both married and unmarried women.
For other indicators, countries receive 1 point for each question that receives a “no” or “..” as the answer (unless otherwise noted below). Countries do not receive a point for “yes” or “N/A” answers (unless otherwise noted below).
- Can a woman choose where to live in the same way as a man?*
- Can a woman travel outside her home in the same way as a man?*
- Can a woman travel outside the country in the same way as a man?*
- Can a woman obtain a national identity card in the same way as a man?+*
- Can a woman get a job in the same way as a man?*
- Are there criminal penalties for sexual harassment in employment? (Note: MCC uses the disaggregated question focused only on criminal penalties, which can be found in the Workplace tab of the main data under “Criminal Penalties”)
- Is there legislation that specifically addresses sexual harassment?+ (Note: MCC uses the sub-indicator from the additional data, not the similar question in the main data)
- Can women work the same night hours as men?
- Can women do the same jobs as men? (This question is a combination of two questions: Can women work in jobs deemed dangerous in the same way as men? and Are women able to work in the same industries as men? If a country has a restriction on either, this question is counted as a restriction.)
- Can a woman be “head of household” or “head of family” in the same way as a man?*
- Is there legislation specifically addressing domestic violence?
- Does the legislation establish clear criminal penalties for domestic violence?+
- Is there a specialized court or procedure for cases of domestic violence?+
- What is the legal age of marriage for girls?+ (1 point for ages < 18 or no data)
- Are there any exceptions to the legal age of marriage?+ (1 point for “yes”)
- Is marriage under the legal age void or explicitly prohibited?+
- Are there penalties in the law for authorizing or entering into child or early marriage?+
- Do married couples jointly share legal responsibility for financially maintaining the family’s expenses?+
- Can a woman sign a contract in the same way as a man?*
- Can a woman register a business in the same way as a man?*
- Can a woman open a bank account in the same way as a man?*
- Do men and women have equal ownership rights to immovable property?*
- Do sons and daughters have equal rights to inherit assets from their parents?
- Do female and male surviving spouses have equal rights to inherit assets?
- Does the law grant spouses equal administrative authority over assets during marriage?
- Does the law provide for the valuation of nonmonetary contributions?*
- Can a woman legally confer citizenship to her children in the same way as a man?+
- Does a woman’s testimony carry the same evidentiary weight in court as a man’s in all types of cases?+
- If customary law is recognized as a valid source of law under the constitution, is it invalid if it violates constitutional provisions on nondiscrimination or equality?+
As better data become available, the World Bank makes backward revisions to its historical data.
In FY19, MCC implemented a revised and expanded Gender in the Economy indicator. Due to the change in methodology, FY19 scores are not comparable to previous year’s scores.