World Bank Report: Gender Bias Persists in Economies Worldwide

Women in most countries around the world are still subject to gender bias despite progress made in removing legal and regulatory barriers that prevent women from fully participating in their country’s economy, the World Banksaid in a new report.

The report, dubbed “Women Business and the Law 2012: Removing Barriers to Economic Inclusion,” finds that only 36 out of 141 countries have so far reduced legal differences between men and women. The other 103 countries still have laws and regulations based on gender, the report says.

Among the indicators measured by the report are a woman’s legal freedom to travel, manage property, contract, and interact with private and public officials. The report notes that as many as 29 countries have laws preventing women from being recognized as heads of households while 23 countries do not allow married women to legally choose their residence.

The World Bank is urging countries around the world to make greater strides in removing these legal impediments to allow women, who represent 49.6 percent of the world’s population, to freely engage in economic activities.

“The economy suffers when half of the world’s population is prevented from fully participating. It is certainly no surprise that the world’s most competitive economies are those where the opportunity gap between women and men is the narrowest,” Augusto Lopez-Claros, head of the World Bank’s Global Indicators and Analysis office, said.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.