Martha McCubbin of Grayling London, writes in VoxEU that opportunities for women in business continue to fall short in emerging economies. And, she argues, though the progress has been significantly better in wealthy countries, "full equality is still some distance away." McCubbin highlights the work of the Economist Intelligence Unit (2010) which has accumulated data that might once and for all reveal the key reasons women workers have found more challenges in some countries. The Women's Opportunity Index grades individual countries based on "laws, regulations, practices, customs and attitudes that allow women to participate in the workforce under conditions roughly equal to those of men, whether as wage-earning employees or as owners of a business." And McCubbin shares these ratings: McCubbin: No index of this kind can ever be perfect. This one focuses entirely on the formal sector – jobs that usually have set hours and agreed levels of pay, and that are reflected in national accounts. Many women, especially in lower-income economies, work in the informal sector, where activity is often untaxed and not usually counted by the authorities, but also where labour rights and contracts cannot be enforced. While informal employment can lead to short-term gains, these may be outweighed by informality’s long-term negative impact on economic growth and job creation. For example, a study in Mexico found that women moving from informal to formal employment enjoyed a significant increase in earnings (de Laiglesia et al. 2008). This new index is intended to spur further debate on the drivers of, and constraints on, women’s economic opportunity. The results have been validated against existing external benchmarks, such as the ratio of female-to-male participation in the labour force. The scores were also correlated against other standards of women’s achievement, such as the UN Development Program’s Gender Empowerment Measure. The index was reviewed at critical stages by a peer panel of international development and gender experts. This index breaks new ground by focusing specifically on a country-by-country comparison of economic opportunities for women, going beyond a measurement of gender gaps. For this reason it includes an assessment of the national business environments in which women must function. The index also builds on well-established legal codes, such as the International Labour Organisation’s annual evaluation of equal-pay conventions; in this case, the project team created a scoring scheme based on the International Labour Organisation’s written assessments. Read Empowering women economically: 2010 Women’s Economic Opportunity Index here .