MANAMA: Bahrain has made the “greatest improvement” to promote equal pay, raising its score from 0 to 100 in the past two years, according to a new report.

The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2022 report has praised Bahrain’s women-friendly legislation and new amendments to further promote their integration in the workforce.

The report measures laws and regulations across 190 countries in eight areas impacting women’s economic participation – mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pensions.

The data offers objective and measurable benchmarks for global progress toward gender equality.

“In 2021, Bahrain repealed provisions in the labour law that restricted women from working at night and in certain industries and introduced amendments mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value,” said the report.

“One catalyst for this reform was the effort of the Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Women, an advisory council formed in 2001.

“The council adopted a second National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women for 2013-2022, which aims to support women’s entrepreneurship, career opportunities, and financial independence, among other goals.”

Among the Gulf countries, the UAE ranked highest with a score of 82.5 followed by Saudi Arabia (80), Bahrain (65), Oman (38.8), Kuwait (35) and Qatar (29.4).

Bahrain scored 55.6 in the 2021 edition of the same report and this year moved up 9.4 points.

A further breakdown of Bahrain’s rankings in the different parameters shows the country scored 100 in the Pay and Entrepreneurship category, Mobility (50), Workplace (75), Marriage (40), Parenthood (40), Assets (40) and Pension (75).

The Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa regions showed the largest improvement in the WBL Index in 2021, though they continue to lag behind other parts of the world overall.

Across the world, 118 economies guarantee 14 weeks of paid leave for mothers, while 114 economies measured mandate paid leave for fathers, but the median duration was just one week.

Around 2.4 billion women of working age are not afforded equal economic opportunity and 178 countries maintain legal barriers that prevent their full economic participation, according to report that was released on Tuesday.

In 86 countries, women face some form of job restriction and 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work.

Globally, women still have only three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men – an aggregate score of 76.5 out of a possible 100, which denotes complete legal parity.

However, despite the disproportionate effect on women’s lives and livelihood from the global pandemic, 23 countries reformed their laws in 2021 to take much-needed steps towards advancing women’s economic inclusion.

“While progress has been made, the gap between men’s and women’s expected lifetime earnings globally is $172 trillion – nearly two times the world’s annual GDP,” said World Bank’s Development Policy and Partnerships managing director Mari Pangestu.

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