Women, Business and the Law Index

What you should know about this indicator

Long definition from World Bank: The index measures how laws and regulations affect women’s economic opportunity. Overall scores are calculated by taking the average score of each index (Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship, Assets and Pension), with 100 representing the highest possible score.

Source from World Bank: World Bank: Women, Business and the Law.

Statistical concept and methodology from World Bank: Women, Business and the Law tracks progress toward legal equality between men and women in 190 economies. Data are collected with standardized questionnaires to ensure comparability across economies. Questionnaires are administered to over 2,000 respondents with expertise in family, labor, and violence against women legislation, including lawyers, judges, academics, and members of civil society organizations working on gender issues. Respondents provide responses to the questionnaires and references to relevant laws and regulations. The Women, Business and the Law team collects the texts of these codified sources of national law - constitutions, codes, laws, statutes, rules, regulations, and procedures - and checks questionnaire responses for accuracy. Thirty-five data points are scored across eight indicators of four or five binary questions, with each indicator representing a different phase of a woman’s career. Indicator-level scores are obtained by calculating the unweighted average of the questions within that indicator and scaling the result to 100. Overall scores are then calculated by taking the average of each indicator, with 100 representing the highest possible score.

Limitations and exceptions from World Bank: The Women, Business and the Law methodology has limitations that should be considered when interpreting the data. All eight indicators are based on standardized assumptions to ensure comparability across economies. Comparability is one of the strengths of the data, but the assumptions can also be limitations as they may not capture all restrictions or represent all particularities in a country. It is assumed that the woman resides in the economy's main business city. In federal economies, laws affecting women can vary by state or province. Even in nonfederal economies, women in rural areas and small towns could face more restrictive local legislation. Such restrictions are not captured by Women, Business and the Law unless they are also found in the main business city. The woman has reached the legal age of majority and is capable of making decisions as an adult, is in good health and has no criminal record. She is a lawful citizen of the economy being examined, and she works as a cashier in the food retail sector in a supermarket or grocery store that has 60 employees. She is a cisgender, heterosexual woman in a monogamous first marriage registered with the appropriate authorities (de facto marriages and customary unions are not measured), she is of the same religion as her husband, and is in a marriage under the rules of the default marital property regime, or the most common regime for that jurisdiction, which will not change during the course of the marriage. She is not a member of a union, unless membership is mandatory. Membership is considered mandatory when collective bargaining agreements cover more than 50 percent of the workforce in the food retail sector and when they apply to individuals who were not party to the original collective bargaining agreement. Where personal law prescribes different rights and obligations for different groups of women, the data focus on the most populous group, which may mean that restrictions that apply only to minority populations are missed. Women, Business and the Law focuses solely on the ways in which the formal legal and regulatory environment determines whether women can work or open their own businesses. The data set is constructed using laws and regulations that are codified (de jure) and currently in force, therefore implementation of laws (de facto) is not measured. The data looks only at laws that apply to the private sector. These assumptions can limit the representativeness of the data for the entire population in each country. Finally, Women, Business and the Law recognizes that the laws it measures do not apply to all women in the same way. Women face intersectional forms of discrimination based on gender, sex, sexuality, race, gender identity, religion, family status, ethnicity, nationality, disability, and a myriad of other grounds. Women, Business and the Law therefore encourages readers to interpret the data in conjunction with other available research.

License type from World Bank: CC BY-4.0

Development relevance from World Bank: The knowledge and analysis provided by Women, Business and the Law make a strong economic case for laws that empower women. Better performance in the areas measured by the Women, Business and the Law index is associated with more women in the labor force and with higher income and improved development outcomes. Equality before the law and of economic opportunity are not only wise social policy but also good economic policy. The equal participation of women and men will give every economy a chance to achieve its potential. Given the economic significance of women's empowerment, the ultimate goal of Women, Business and the Law is to encourage governments to reform laws that hold women back from working and doing business.

General comments from World Bank: 1. For the reference period, WDI and Gender Databases take the data coverage years instead of reporting years used in WBL ( For example, the data for YR2020 in WBL (report year) corresponds to data for YR2019 in WDI and Gender Databases. 2. The 2024 Women, Business and the Law (WBL) report has introduced two distinct datasets, labeled as 1.0 and 2.0. The WBL data in the Gender database is based on the dataset 1.0.  This dataset maintains consistency with the indicators used in previous WBL reports from 2020 to 2023. In contrast, the WBL 2.0 dataset includes new areas of childcare and safety. For those interested in exploring the WBL 2.0 dataset, it is available on the WBL website at

World Bank variable id: SG.LAW.INDX

World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
June 10, 2024
Next expected update
June 2025
Date range

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Bank Gender Statistics dataset provides a comprehensive range of gender-related indicators grouped by various topics. These indicators are categorized under different themes such as education, employment and time use, entrepreneurship, environment, health, leadership, norms and decision-making, technology, violence, and contextual information. Each category contains numerous specific indicators, covering a wide range of issues such as literacy rates, employment by sector, legal rights, health statistics, and more. This dataset offers detailed information and insights into various aspects of gender disparity and equality across different regions and countries.

Retrieved on
June 10, 2024
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
World Bank Gender Statistics, World Bank, 2024. Licence: CC BY 4.0.

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