Denying equal opportunity to women a barrier to economic progress: WB

The Chronicle

Senior Business Reporter

THE World Bank has expressed deep concern over cropping “reform fatigue” among governments towards equal treatment of women, which it says poses an obstacle to economic growth.

The bank said the pace of reforms toward equal rights for women has dropped to a 20-year low adding that at the current pace, it would take at least 50 years on average to reach set targets.

Globally, March is recognized as women’s month. In a statement to coincide with women’s month,  the World Bank said at the pace of reform, in many countries a woman entering the workforce today will retire before she will be able to gain the same rights as men.

“The global pace of reforms toward equal treatment of women under the law has slumped to a 20-year low, constituting a potential impediment to economic growth at a critical time for the global economy,” reads part of the report.

Indermit Gill, chief economist of the World Bank Group and senior vice president for development of economics said at a time when global economic growth is slowing, all countries need to mobilise their full productive capacity to confront the confluence of crises besetting them.

“Governments can’t afford to sideline as much as half of their population. 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.”

Last week, the  Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general, Ms Regina Chinamasa stressed the need for the crafting of a taxation policy that is gender sensitive while taking into consideration the contribution of disadvantaged groups.


She noted that women make enormous contributions to economies through working in farms, businesses, formal employment, self-employment, and unpaid domestic or care work at home, and as such  they  should be taxed differently.

Ms Chinamasa was speaking at a recent Women in Tax Dialogue forum organised by the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and her presentation was focused on the divergent impact of tax policy, and leadership decisions on gender.

She said women, in general, commit the bulk of their income to their families’ well-being, and to education, and thus, where this income is heavily taxed, it leaves them with little resources for taking care of families.

Ms Chinamasa suggested that if the leadership is mainly male-dominated, chances are high that gender issues might not be given the attention they deserve.

The World Bank said, today, only 14 countries—all high-income economies—have laws that give women the same rights as men.

“Worldwide, nearly 2,4 billion women of working age still do not have the same rights as men. Closing the gender employment gap could raise long-term GDP per capita by nearly 20 percent on average across countries.

“Studies estimate global economic gains of $5-6 trillion if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men do,” it said.

The bank noted that in 2022, only 34 gender-related legal reforms were recorded across 18 countries—the lowest number since 2001. It said most reforms focused on increasing paid leave for parents and fathers, removing restrictions to women’s work, and mandating equal pay.

“It will take another 1,549 reforms to reach substantial legal gender equality everywhere in the areas measured by the report. At the current pace, it would take at least 50 years on average to reach that target.”

Although great achievements have been made over the last five decades, more needs to be done worldwide to ensure that good intentions are accompanied by tangible results —that is, equal opportunity under the law for women.

“Women cannot afford to wait any longer to reach gender equality. Neither can the global economy,” it said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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