Women's Economic Opportunity

The EIU’s new report looks at the economic landscape that women face globally and highlights which countries offer the most and the fewest opportunities.
Women’s economic opportunities are influenced not just by a country’s regulatory environment but also by social attitudes and customs. As a result, women’s participation in the formal labour force remains well below that of men. Women are also paid less than their male counterparts, and men continue to dominate in sectors with higher wage-earning potential, such as technology and finance. The study finds that even where legislation is intended to help women, implementation is often weak and opportunities remain limited.
Nevertheless, attitudes are changing as economies develop and opportunities for women expand. Countries with stagnant or slow-growing populations increasingly realise that women are essential to an expanding labour force.
Other key findings of the study include:
  • Sweden, Belgium and Norway occupy the top spots in the Index. These countries have particularly open labour markets for women, high levels of educational achievement, and liberal legal and social regimes.
  • Hong Kong (China) performs best in the Asia region, ranking in the top 25% in most categories. Mauritius is Africa’s best finisher; its labour policies are among the most favourable to women in the region.
  • Excluding Canada and the US, Brazil edges Chile and Mexico for the best score in the Americas. Eastern European countries, especially Bulgaria, have particularly balanced labour-law protections.
  • Inequality in labour opportunities and outcomes can occur because a disproportionate share of unpaid work falls on women. Social protection schemes, such as the provision of maternity leave and benefits, help to mitigate this.
  • Women often face greater difficulties than men in securing credit due to a lack of collateral. Women’s access to property is restricted either by law or custom in many countries, leaving them with few assets.
  • Many women face greater barriers than men in setting up businesses. Women’s enterprises are often particularly small and concentrated in the retail or services sectors. This calls for training programmes in management to provide the skills needed to run a successful business.


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