Ghana improves, ranks 91st on 2012 Global Women’s Economic Opportunity index

Ghana ranks at the 91st position out of 128 countries worldwide on the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Women’s Economic Opportunity (WEO) index 2012, released today March 8, 2012.

And today marks the International Women’s Day. A day set aside to recognise women’s contribution to global development.

According to the index, Ghana scored 46.4 out of 100, adding 3.8 points from what it had in the inaugural index in 2010. The index recognized Ghana as one of the improved countries in the rankings for the year 2012 even though its score was below the average of 50.

The EIU’s WEO index aims to look beyond gender disparities to the underlying factors affecting women’s access to economic opportunity in the formal economy.

The index measures five categories that determine whether the environment for both women employees and women entrepreneurs is favourable. The five categories used were Labour policy and practice; Access to finance; Education and training; Women’s legal and social status; and General business environment.

It draws on data from a wide range of international organisations, including the UN, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and many others.

Rankings by income classifications, the index which recognized Ghana as a low income one, placed the country third out of 20 countries. Kenya came first in this classification with a score of 47.5.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana came sixth with Mauritius topping the region with a score of 67.7.

Sweden maintained first place in the overall 2012 index while Sudan was ranked last for a second consecutive year at 128th.

In the executive summary, the index noted that women are key drivers of economic growth. In the second half of the 20th century, the entry of women into the workforce helped to propel most of the world’s developed economies.

“Today, women in the developing world are poised to have a similar impact—if they can be properly educated, equipped and empowered, it said.

Women are the world’s greatest undeveloped source of labour: nearly one-half of working-age women are not currently active in the formal global economy, according to the EIU.

“By working disproportionately in unpaid labour, particularly in developing countries, women traditionally have had less access than men to income and resources. Thus, they are often less productive than men, which holds back the overall economy,” analysts of the index said.

As governments worldwide seek short- and long-term fixes to waning economic performance, the index observed that expanding opportunities for the 1.5 billion women not employed in the formal sector will take on even greater importance.

But simply increasing the number of working women will not be enough. It argues that the poorest regions of the world have among the highest levels of female labour force participation, and poverty in those regions persists.

Rather, to realise greater returns from female economic activity, the legal, social, financial and educational barriers hindering women’s productivity need to be removed, it advised.

By Ekow Quandzie

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