Women around the globe face an array of legal and regulatory barriers to their economic participation, ranging from the lack of laws on sexual harassment in employment to regulatory frameworks that make it more difficult for women to gain access to credit. The fifth biennial report “Women, Business and the Law 2018,” developed by the World Bank Group, takes a closer look at these barriers and how they can be overcome.
In the webinar Women, Business, and the Law, which you can watch in full above, Sarah Iqbal, program manager of the Women, Business and the Law project, presented key findings from the latest report surveying 189 economies.
“The idea behind the data is to examine policies that can help further women’s economic inclusion, ultimately leading to increased growth and shared prosperity,” said Iqbal.
During the one-hour webinar, she underlined findings showing that 1 in 3 economies restrict women's freedom of movement or agency in at least one area and that 75 economies currently constrain women’s property rights in some form.
Drawing on the report findings, Iqbal further explained that women’s access to property is an important enabler of female entrepreneurship as it can serve as collateral for a loan used to start a business.
In addition, the webinar highlighted data showing that 59 economies do not legally prohibit sexual harassment at work, leaving about 525 million women worldwide without legal protection from harassment in employment.
The study also shows that countries where sexual harassment is prohibited, actually see higher levels women entrepreneurs.
Webinar participants were also able to learn more about the positive trends visible in the data, which shows that 65 economies have passed 87 reforms to advance greater gender equality over the past two years. Kenya has introduced its first domestic violence law, and Zambia has introduced a new gender equality act.
With the Women, Business and the Law 2018 report, Iqbal hopes to help global development professionals “understand how to incorporate a gender lens into development work, especially on policy discussions. It’s also aimed to help incorporate economic analysis looking at equality of opportunity, and to identify regulatory and legal factors limiting women’s economic participation.”
You can download the full version of the report here, including country-level data for all countries surveyed.