Bangladesh ranked second from the bottom in South Asia on the World Bank's Women, Business and the Law (WBL) 2021 index and was only ahead of war-torn Afghanistan again compared to the last index.
But the country achieved the perfect score (100) in mobility, one of the eight indicators used in the index. In fact, it has been maintaining the perfect score in this indicator since 2009.
The seven other indicators are workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pension.
No reforms were observed in Bangladesh in the past year to improve women's legal equality, the report said.
It said Bangladesh could consider reforms to improve legal equality for women when it comes to laws affecting women's decisions to work, that affecting women's pay, constraints related to marriage, laws affecting women's work after having children, constraints on women's starting and running a business, gender differences in property and inheritance, and laws affecting the size of a woman's pension.
Bangladesh received one of the lowest scores on the parenthood indicator. To improve on the indicator, the report suggested that Bangladesh consider making the government administer 100% of maternity leave benefits, making paid leave available to fathers, making paid parental leave available, and prohibiting the dismissal of pregnant workers.
Released on 23 February, the index is the seventh in a series of annual studies measuring the laws and regulations that affect women's economic opportunity in 190 economies, covering the period from September 2019 to October 2020.
The average global score was 76.1 out of 100 on the index. It indicates that the world has achieved about three-quarters of good practice legislation as measured by the indicators. Bangladesh scored 49.4, which was the same as that of the Republic of the Congo.
In fact, Bangladesh has maintained the same score since 2012 as no reform took place during this period.
With a score of 80.6, Nepal performed the best among South Asian countries, followed by India (74.4), the Maldives (73.8), Bhutan (71.9), and Sri Lanka (65.6). Pakistan, the only South Asian country that saw its position improve on the index, scored 55.6.
Ten economies – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Sweden – achieved the perfect score (100) on the index. This score indicates that women in these countries are on an equal legal standing with men across all areas measured in the index.
West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Kuwait, and Sudan were placed at the bottom on the index.