World Bank lauds sub-Sahara Africa on women economic empowerment

Women in Rwanda are at the centre of the country’s development agenda, thanks to recent law reforms, MP-elect Esperance Mwiza, has said.

Women in Rwanda are at the centre of the country’s development agenda, thanks to recent law reforms, MP-elect Esperance Mwiza, has said.

“When you look back at the history of Rwanda, you will be amazed at how far women have come. Women can now access credit without seeking consent from their husbands, they can compete for the same jobs with men and, in general, the welfare of a woman has improved,” Mwiza said in an interview on Tuesday.

She emphasised that women play a big role in the development of any society and “this is the vision Rwanda has taken on”. The recent parliamentary elections handed women a 64 per cent majority in Parliament from 56 per cent.

Mwiza was reacting to a new World Bank report showing that sub-Saharan Africa reformed the most over the past 50 years in the areas covered by women and social reform in business laws.

The “Women, Business and the Law 2014 Fact Sheet” report indicates that restrictions on women’s property rights and their ability to make legal decisions were reduced by more than half from 1960 to 2010 in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Over the past two years, numerous sub-Saharan African economies passed reforms promoting gender parity and encouraging women’s economic participation for the six indicators,” the report released this week states.

The World Bank report indicates that in other sub-Saharan countries like Botswana and Angola, new laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex were enacted.

Côte d’Ivoire amended its Family Code to allow both spouses to choose the family domicile and to pursue their career of choice, taking into account the interests of their family. Ethiopia and Malawi introduced retirement and pensionable ages for women and men, while Mali enacted a law removing the restriction on married women’s ability to register businesses.

The report generally analyses legal differences on the basis of gender in 143 economies, covering six areas, including access to institutions, owning property, employment, providing incentives to work, building credit, and accessing legal counsel.

 

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