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March 6, 2021
International News

Laws Restricting Economic Opportunity for Women Widespread

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By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV, Port Moresby

Despite progress made globally in addressing barriers for economic opportunities for women in developing countries, women are still faced with countless legal barriers that restrict economic advancement.

World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2016 report, released on September 9 states that legal barriers are widespread, limiting women’s access to credit, employment and making women more vulnerable to violence in economies around the world.

The report, that analyses laws that obstruct women’s entrepreneurship and employment, found that women face employment restrictions in 100 of the 173 economies studied.

Under the theme ‘Getting to Equal’, the report found that 11 reforms were enacted in East Asia and the Pacific region for women.

The legal restrictions posed were described as a “grave injustice” on women and their ability to obtain employment and to actively participate in economic development, said the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim.

“Women make up half of the world’s population, and deserve the opportunity to realise their potential,” stated Kim.

Findings of the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law 2016 report state that of the 173 economies:

  • Women are barred from working in factory jobs in 41 economies
  • Women could not obtain employment without the consent of their husbands in 18 economies
  • Women are not allowed to work at night in 29 economies
  • Married women do not have the right to choose where to live in 30 economies
  • In 19 economies, women are legally obliged to obey their husbands
  • And paternity leave is available in less than a third of the economies limiting shared childcare responsibilities between men and women

A range of other disparities were monitored affecting not only women, but their children, communities and having impacts on the economies of the countries.

“It’s highly significant that while almost every country on earth testifies that women should not face discrimination, invariably in practice women do, although the extent varies greatly. By carefully gathering evidence from around the world on the real state of economic life, we can see clearly how women face numerous restrictions in the workplace and how removing these can unleash energy and growth,” said Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President.

The full report and accompanying datasets are available at http://wbl.worldbank.org/ 

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