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Expand chart
Data: World Bank Group; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Only six countries have laws that give women equal economic opportunity to men: Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden, according to a new World Bank report.

Why it matters: The global average scores showed that, on average, women are afforded only three-quarters the legal rights of men in the categories chosen for the study. And legal opportunity is the bare minimum, as laws do not solve discriminatory societal pressures or cultural biases.

All nations studied made progress in legal equality over the past decade, but "this is just a first step in the right direction," Rita Ramalho, a lead author of the report, told Axios.

  • The U.S. isn't even in the top 60 nations for legal environments that promote women in business.
  • 35 nations have implemented laws against sexual harassment in the workplace over the past decade. In the past two years, the #MeToo movement has spread from the U.S. to the world, drawing attention to toxic work environments for women.
  • 33 economies introduced laws that require businesses to offer paid paternity leave. The U.S. has no federal paid family leave policy.
  • Sub-Saharan African nations saw some of the biggest gains in legal equality over the past decade. But it is largely because many of these nations were so far behind the others 10 years ago, according to the study's authors.

The big picture: Where there are more laws protecting equal opportunity, there is higher participation among women in the workforce and they get paid more, the report found.

"This is an equality issue. But behind it is very much an economic issue, an economic argument."
— Rita Ramalho

About the study: The World Bank looked at laws that allow women to move, start a job, get paid, marry, have children, run a business, manage assets or receive a pension as easily as men.

Go deeper: U.S. women are now more educated than men, but lag in workforce

Go deeper

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.