According to a World Bank survey, Saudi Arabia continues to make significant strides in women’s economic participation and empowerment.
The World Bank Group’s “Women, Business and the Law (WBL)” report, released on Feb. 23, showed that the Kingdom scored higher than last year on a global measure of legal reforms to boost gender equality.
On a scale of one to 100, Saudi Arabia scored 80 in 2021, up from 70.6 in 2020.
The increase in performance was notable in five indicators on which it scored at the top of the scale: Mobility, workplace, pay, entrepreneurship and pension.
These scores put Saudi Arabia on a par with many advanced economies with long traditions of women’s legal reform.
The Kingdom’s strong performance comes as a result of a raft of reforms implemented last year to further expand female participation in the economy.
Saudi Arabia equalized women’s access to the labor market, lifted restrictions on their employment in sectors previously considered unsafe, and eliminated a ban on women’s night work.
Last year’s report ranked Saudi Arabia as the world’s top reformer in advancing women’s economic participation for 2019, a recognition of the legislative policies the country established to boost female participation in the workforce, which it aims to increase from an average of just under 20% to more than 40% as part of Vision 2030.
Commenting on the report, Majid Al-Qasabi, commerce minister and chairman of the National Competitiveness Center, said that the Kingdom’s performance reflects King Salman’s commitment to enabling Saudi women to fully participate in the social and economic development of the country. It also reflects Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to ensure an effective whole-of-government approach to implementing women’s legal reforms.
Saudi Arabia’s reforms build on changes implemented since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, including lifting restrictions on women’s mobility, equalizing access to public services, guaranteeing equal benefits in the labor market, and instituting protections against harassment in the workplace and in public spaces.
The WBL, a yearly publication by the World Bank Group, assesses women’s legal reforms in 190 countries, using an index with eight indicators: Mobility, pay, parenthood, assets, workplace, marriage, entrepreneurship and pension.