Many nations' laws hinder women's access to jobs, credit: World Bank study

Wed Sep 9, 2015 3:55pm EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Laws in many nations persist in keeping women from working in jobs of their choice, block their access to credit or leave them unprotected against domestic violence, according to a World Bank report released on Wednesday.

Women in the Middle East and North Africa face the most obstacles, with laws prohibiting married women from applying for a passport or getting a job without their husband's permission, the World Bank Group’s report Women, Business and the Law 2016 said.

But legal obstacles to women working stretch around the world, said the report, which studied laws in 173 economies.

Of those, 90 percent have at least one law impeding women's economic opportunities, it said.

Women are legally barred from certain factory jobs in 41 economies, and in 29 economies they cannot work at night. In 18 economies, women cannot get a job without permission from their husband, it said.

The consequences affect only not women but their children, their communities and their nation's economies, the report said.

"We can't afford to leave their potential untapped – whether because laws fail to protect women against violence, or exclude them from financial opportunities, property ownership or professions," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

When there is inequality under the law, fewer girls attend secondary schools, fewer women work or run businesses and the gender wage gap is higher, the study said.   Continued...

A group of people wearing full solid-coloured bodysuits are seen after taking part in a street art performance in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, Israel August 29, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen