Great summary of World Bank report on restrictions on women’s equality around the world

The Women, Business and the Law report is out, and here is a nice summary from PS magazine:

A major barrier raised in the report is women’s right to work at night. Women are prevented from working the same night hours as men in 29 countries, including India, which prohibits them from working in factories between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. India’s female labor participation rate is one of the lowest in the world at 24 percent. In Sri Lanka, women are not allowed to work after 10 p.m. in the retail sector—a restriction, Iqbal said, that employers aren’t happy with. “It should be a matter of choice—women should be allowed to get the jobs that they are qualified for,” she said.  The report notes that many of the most restrictive laws—including those that require a woman to have her husband’s permission to work or restrict the kinds of work a woman can do—come from old European legal codes that were introduced to sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia under colonization.

Of the 87 legal reforms enacted across the world since the last survey, property rights improved in only one country. Ecuador repealed a law that favored husbands’ decisions in cases of disagreement between spouses on marital assets. A trend that we’ve noticed is that property laws are much slower to change than labor laws and gender-based violence laws,” Iqbal said. “These issues are very slow to change because they affect asset allocation.” But, she said, that might not be such a bad thing in the long run. “If you reform property law too quickly you can engender a backlash that can work against women’s rights.”

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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