One way to measure systemic gender discrimination is to survey the kinds of laws that are on the that either stymie or facilitate the participation of women in the work force.

To that end, the World Bank publishes a regular report called Women Business and the Law that measures gender discrimination in nearly nearly every country on the planet. The report uses eight indicators (listed below) that feed into women’s participation in the workforce. Taken together, the indicators paint a revealing picture about a country’s commitment to ensure that women have equal opportunity for gainful and meaningful employment.

From the report

At 25 years old, many women are just starting their careers. The decisions they make a ect their economic security, career growth and work-life balance. This challenging period is only made more di cult in economies where legal environments do not support a woman’s decision to work.

For instance, a woman cannot effectively look for a job or go on an interview if she cannot leave her home without permission. Even if she can go on an interview, will an employer be willing to hire her? If she is hired, will she need to quit if she gets married or has children? If not, will she have to move to a lower paying job because she must balance work with caring for her family?

And what if the law does not allow her to manage her own assets, affecting her ability to start a business? At the end of her career, she may have to retire earlier than a man, giving her a longer retirement but a smaller pension because she worked for fewer years with lower pay.

The World Bank report found that just six country’s give women and men equal legal rights.This is an improvement from a decade ago, in which the report found that no country guaranteed full legal equality.

Only Denmark, Belgium, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden got perfect scores. Of these countries, France saw the biggest gains on the index, going from a score of 91.88 ten years ago to 100 today. These gains were achieved through new laws implemented over the last decade, including a domestic violence law, providing criminal penalties for workplace sexual harassment and introducing paid parental leave, says the report. Saudi Arabia ranked dead last, owing largely to onerous guardianship laws that prevent women from working without the expressed permission of a male relative.

 

International Women’s Day, today,  is an annual call to action for accelerating gender parity. Reports like this from the World Bank can be useful tools for measuring progress to that end.

Discussion

comments...

Get occasional updates from UN Dispatch

* indicates required

Want Our Social Media List?

Want Global Development News Clips?