Women in Bangladesh are granted only half of the legal rights enjoyed by men against the worldwide average of three quarters, according to a World Bank report.
Bangladesh scored 49.38 in an index measuring gender disparities in a World Bank study report titled ‘Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform’.
Released on Wednesday, the study and the index also showed that women around the world were granted only three quarters of the legal rights enjoyed by men, often preventing them from getting jobs or opening businesses.
Bangladesh has been placed at the fifth position among the South Asian countries in the index.
The county is ahead of Pakistan (46.25) and Afghanistan (38.13), but behind Nepal (53.13), Sri Lanka (65.63), Bhutan (69.30), India (71.20) and Maldives (73.75), according to the index of the WB study.
The index of the study was derived from data collected over a decade from 187 countries and using eight indicators to evaluate the balance of rights afforded to men and women.
The study noted that Bangladesh and other SA countries Afghanistan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan reformed in starting-a-job area by introducing laws on workplace sexual harassment.
It also observed that Bangladesh along with Argentina, Georgia, Malaysia and Moldova introduced sexual harassment laws, but did not provide for either criminal penalties or civil remedies for the violation of these laws.
In a statement, WB’s interim president Kristalina Georgieva said that if women had equal opportunities to reach their full potential, the world would not only be fairer, it would be more prosperous as well.
While reforms in many countries are a step in the right direction, 2.7 billion women are still legally barred from having the same choice of jobs as men, said an Agence France-Presse report quoting Kristalina Georgieva.
The WB report showed the progress was made over the past 10 years, with the index rising to 75 from 70 out of a possible 100, as 131 countries had agreed to enact 274 reforms, adopting laws or regulations allowing greater inclusion of women.
Among the improvements, 35 countries have proposed laws against sexual harassment in the workplace, granting protections to an additional 2 billion women, while 22 nations have abolished restrictions that kept women out of certain industrial sectors.
Six nations — Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia and Sweden — scored a 100, meaning that they give women and men equal legal rights in the measured areas, the WB said.
A decade ago, no economy had achieved a perfect score.
On the other hand, too many women still face discriminatory laws or regulations at every stage of their professional lives. Fifty-six nations made no improvement over the last decade.
South Asia saw the greatest progress, although it still achieved a relatively low score of 58.36. It was followed by Southeast Asia (70.73) and the Pacific (64.80).
Latin America and the Caribbean recorded the second highest scores among emerging and developing economies at 79.09.
Conversely, the Middle East and North Africa posted the lowest score for gender equality at 47.37. The World Bank nevertheless pointed to encouraging changes, such as the introduction of laws against domestic violence, particularly in Algeria and Lebanon.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Banking