B y Obinna ChimaÂ
Governments in 65 economies took steps to improve womenâ€™s economic inclusion, enacting 87 legal reforms in the past two years, theÂ World Bank Groupâ€™sÂ â€˜Women, Business and Law 2018,â€™Â reportÂ has disclosed.
However, women continue to face widespread barriers, entrenched in laws that keep them out of jobs and prevent them from owning a business by restricting their access to credit or control over marital property, the biennial report which now monitors 189 economiesÂ stated.
Â For example, it discoveredÂ that in 104 economies, women are barred from working at night or in certain jobs in many areas, including manufacturing, construction, energy, agriculture, water and transportation. This negatively affects the choices of more than 2.7 billion women.
â€œNo economy can grow to its full potential unless women and men participate fully,â€Â World Bank Chief Executive Officer,Â Kristalina Georgieva said.
Georgieva added:Â â€œYet in more than half the world women are still prevented from working in certain jobs simply because of their gender. The report finds that where there is gender equality in labor laws, more women work and earn more relative to men. Women should have the same equality of opportunity as men to provide for themselves, and to give their children the best start in life possible,â€
Now in itsÂ fifth edition,Â the report introduced, for the first time, a scoring system of 0 to 100, to better inform the reform agenda. ScoresÂ were assigned to every monitored economy on each of the reportâ€™s seven indicators: accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit, and protecting women from violence.
While no economy got the perfect score of 100 in all seven indicators, economies that performedÂ well across the indicators includedÂ the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Spain. OECD high-income economies generally hadÂ the highest average score across most indicators.
Protecting women against violence, through laws against domestic violence and sexual harassment at work or in educational facilities, remains an area where much work is needed, the report stated.
Of the 189 economies examined, 45 do not have laws on domestic violence and 59 do not have laws against sexual harassment in employment. Overall, 21 economies receive a score of 0 in the protecting women from violence indicator. Many of these economies are located in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East and North Africa.
Although the vast majority of the economies monitored have laws establishing non-discrimination in employment based on gender, only 76 mandate equal remuneration for work of equal value and 37 economies have no laws protecting pregnant workers from dismissal.
In building credit as well,Â it showed thatÂ thereÂ is much room for improvement. Legislation prohibiting gender-based discrimination in financial services exists in only 72 economies, with 79 economies scoring 0 on this measure. Low income economies perform particularly poorly, with an average score of eight.
According to the report,Â four of the worldâ€™s five economies which implemented the most reforms in the past two yearsÂ were from Africa.
With 13 reforms collectively implemented by theÂ Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, the region accounted for a total of 34 reforms.
Â Nearly a third of these reforms were in the area of building credit, a weak point around the world, including in high-income OECD.
â€œWith an average score of 19, Sub-Saharan Africa is on par with East Asia and Pacific on this indicator. The region also carried out almost half of the worldâ€™s 13 reforms to protect women against violence. However, of the worldâ€™s 45 economies with no laws against domestic violence, 19 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, earning the region an average score of 46 on this indicator.
â€œThe region performs well in the areas of accessing institutions, with an average score of 87. In fact, 20 of the regionâ€™s 47 monitored economies receive 100 on this indicator, with not a single economy earning 0. Using property is another area of relative strength for the region, with an average score of 76, and 16 economies with a perfect score,â€ it stated.
â€œGiving women equal opportunity is a moral and economic imperative and rescinding discriminatory laws is an important first step. We hope the Women, Business and the Law data, which is publicly available, will be used to make the much-needed changes to enable women to make the choices that are best for them, their families and their communities,â€Â World Bankâ€™s Senior Director for Development Economics,Â Shanta DevarajanÂ said.
Furthermore, the report citedÂ research that shows that gender gaps cause an average income loss of 15 percent in the OECD economies, 40 percent of which is due to entrepreneurship gaps.
LossesÂ were estimated to be significantly higher in developing countries. Gender discrimination by law is also estimated to decrease female labor force participation and undermine economic growth. Research estimates that for some economies, a large fraction of country differences in output per capita can be attributed to gender inequality, and many countries can increase output per capita by discouraging gender barriers in the labour market.
The various tiers of governmentÂ last weekÂ shared N647.39 billion for the month of February.Â The meetingÂ ran into a stalemate after the figures remitted into the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were disputed by the finance commissioners.
ThisÂ hadÂ prompted the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to reconvene the meeting.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, Adeosun who is the Chairman of FAAC, said she personally engaged the state governors in a meeting last Tuesday night to resolve the impasse.
She said: â€œThe figure for this month is higher than last monthâ€™s. There are issues that we would take up with NNPC but those issues notwithstanding, we should go ahead and conclude the meeting.
â€œWe would sit down with the GMD of NNPC or his representatives. We would hopefully sit down within the next 48 hours to thrash out subsisting issues.â€
Adeosun explained that notwithstanding issues surrounding the account, the welfare of workers was paramount, particularly with Easter celebration few days away.â€
Commercial banks in Nigeria in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the licenced mobile money operators and the super agents,Â last weekÂ disclosed plan to aggressively roll-out 500,000 agent networks to offer basic financial services across the country.
The financial services to be offered under this arrangement include cash-in, cash-out, fund transfer, bill payments, airline purchase, government disbursements as well as remote BVN enrolment to an estimated 50 million Nigerians that are currently under-banked or unbanked.
According to the plan, the CBN and banks would over the next few months roll out new initiatives, products and services to accelerate financial inclusion in Nigeria.
The approved CBN-Bankers Committees roll-out ratio include: North-East -30 per cent; North-West -30 per cent; North Central â€“ 20 per cent; South-south -7.5 per cent; South-east â€“ 7.5 per cent; and South-west -five per cent.
Speaking with journalists at a media conference together with his colleagues, the chief executive of Access Bank Plc/Chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs, Mr. Herbert Wigwe explained that the 10 licenced mobile money operators and super agents are expected to immediately deploy financial services agentsâ€™ outlets in underserved urban and rural areas in the country.
PMI for March
The ManufacturingÂ Purchasing Managersâ€™ Index (PMI)Â in the month of March stood at 56.7 index points. According to the monthly report, the expansionÂ indicated a growth in theÂ manufacturing sector for theÂ 12thconsecutive month.Â Â The index however grew at a faster rate, when compared to the index in the previous month.
Of the 14 sub-sectors surveyed, 11 reported growth in the review month in the following order: electrical equipment; cement; petroleum & coal products; food, beverage & tobacco products; chemical & pharmaceutical products; fabricated metal products; paper products; transportation equipment; plastics & rubber products; textile, apparel, leather and footwear and primary metal.
The remainingÂ threeÂ sub-sectors contracted in the following order: non-metallic mineral products; furniture & related products and printing & related support activities.
Also, the report stated that at 59.1 points, the production level index for the manufacturing sector grew for theÂ 13thconsecutive month in March 2018.
The index indicated a faster growth in the current month, when compared to its level in the preceding month.