Latvia a world leader in gender equality under the law

Latvia is one of only six countries worldwide to fully guarantee legal equality between women and men in employment and business, according to the World Bank.

A report titled Women, Business and the Law names Latvia alongside five other countries as giving women full equality under the law.

"Six economies—Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden—score 100 in the Women, Business and the Law index, meaning they give women and men equal legal rights in the measured areas. A decade ago none of these economies scored 100, indicating they all reformed over the past ten years," the report says.

World Bank gender equality in workplace 2019

"With the understanding that women’s access to employment and entrepreneurial activity is related to many factors, this study focuses on how women must navigate discriminatory laws and regulations at every point in their careers, limiting their equality of opportunity. To gain new insight into how women’s employment and entrepreneurship choices are affected by legal gender discrimination, this study examines ten years of Women, Business and the Law data through an index structured around the economic decisions women make as they go through different stages of their working lives," the report says.

France had the biggest improvement among the top performers, going from a score of 91.88 in the index ten years ago to 100 now by implementing a domestic violence law, providing criminal penalties for workplace sexual harassment and introducing paid parental leave. The average global score is 74.71, indicating that a typical economy gives women only three-quarters of the legal rights of men in the measured areas. However, the average score in the Middle East and North Africa is 47.37, meaning the typical economy in that region gives women less than half the legal rights of men in the measured areas.

"Ultimately, the data shows us that laws can be tools that empower women rather than that hold us back from achieving our potential. By making the economic case, we encourage governments to guarantee the full and equal participation of women. After all, the world is better off when it draws upon the talents of all its people," said Kristalina Georgieva, interim Pesident of the World Bank Group.

Women, Business and the Law (WBL) is a World Bank Group project, started in 2009, collecting data on the laws and regulations that restrict women's economic opportunities. The dataset offers objective and measurable benchmarks for global progress toward gender equality. Over the last decade, Women, Business and the Law has expanded coverage to 187 economies and 8 topics relevant to women's economic participation.

The full report is available to read and download online.

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