Women, Business and the Law, 2012
Did you know that in Togo a woman’s husband can prevent her from getting a job by informing her employers of his opposition and in Chile husbands have the exclusive right to administer marital property, which includes assets and earnings earned by the wife unless she can prove their independent origin?
These and other barriers stacked up against women’s labor force participation and entrepreneurship around the world are cataloged in the newly released 2012 Women, Business and the Law Report, Removing barriers to economic inclusion, published by the World Bank Group.
Women, Business and the Law focuses on setting out, in an objective fashion, legal differentiations on the basis of gender in 141 economies around the world, covering 6 topics: accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. The data are readily available on the website, where users can browse by topic or by country and are also provided with links to primary legal resources used in the research. A section on reforms also points out which countries have moved closer to gender equality, or enhanced opportunities for women through legal reform over the course of the past year and a half. For example Kenya, a leading reformer, instilled equal inheritance rights for men and women in its new constitution. Estonia passed a new Employment Contracts Act which prohibits the dismissal of pregnant women, and guarantees a return to the same position after maternity or paternity leave.
This resource has strong potential to be used as a tool for advocacy by civil society organizations aiming to empower women because it provides references relative to other countries, and statutory texts from which sample language can be taken. The findings are also primed for use in economic research to determine correlations between legal regimes and economic and social outcomes. In addition, because reforms are highlighted and the information will be updated every two years, the resource will be valuable in tracking how WBL indicators correspond with provisions in the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). For example, Article 11.1c of CEDAW provides for the free choice of profession and employment which corresponds to questions in Women Business and the Law such as: can women work in the same industries as men? And can a woman get a job or pursue a trade or profession in the same way as a man? Another example is Article 9 of CEDAW which provides for equal rights with respect to nationality. Women Business and the Law tracks the ability of women to convey citizenship to their children and to non-national spouses.
The Women Business and the Law team welcomes feedback and corrections to its report and can be contacted through the website.
List of Countries
Nayda L. Almodóvar-Reteguis
Nayda L. Almodóvar-Reteguis joined the Women, Business and the Law project in 2010. Her work involves historical legal research focused on the evolution of labor and family law reforms, and analyzing issues on women’s entrepreneurship and the business environment. Her previous experience includes serving as Deputy Advisor for the Governor of Puerto Rico, presiding over the Board of Appeals of the Department of Family Affairs of Puerto Rico and working as an attorney focusing her private practice in Family and Inheritance Law. Nayda holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico, a Juris Doctor from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and an LL.M. from The George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C. She is fluent in Spanish.
Yasmin Bin-Humam joined the Enterprise Analysis Unit in 2010 after doing legal research for CGAP's Financial Inclusion Regulation Center. She is currently working on the Women, Business and the Law project and conducting research into the historical evolution of labor and family law reform in countries around the world. Her prior work experience spans the public, private and non-governmental sectors. Yasmin holds JD and MSFS degrees from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree in Economics from Harvard University.
Sarah Iqbal is a Program Officer with the World Bank Group's Global Indicators and Analysis Department, where she focuses on building gender and business environment indicators. She joined the World Bank Group in 2008, where she worked with the Doing Business Project before switching to the Women, Business and the Law project. The Women, Business and the Law report and dataset examine how the legal and regulatory environment affect women's ability to get jobs and start businesses. Ms. Iqbal also provides guidance on the interaction of the law and women’s economic activities in areas such as access to finance. She is a member of the California Bar, and prior to joining the World Bank Group she practiced civil litigation and criminal defense law. Her primary interests lie in the realm of law and development and comparative law. Ms. Iqbal holds a BA in English and History from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA in International Relations and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a JD concentrating in International Law from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She speaks Hindi and Urdu.
Khrystyna Kushnir joined the Women, Business and the Law team in August 2010. Prior, she worked on the global database on micro, small and medium size enterprises within the Enterprise Analysis Unit. Ms. Kushnir worked as a Research Assistant for Central and Eastern Europe at the Heritage Foundation, where she updated the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. Ms. Kushnir also worked, as a Research Analyst, for the Japanese consultancy Washington CORE on Russian and Asian markets. Ms. Kushnir holds MA in International Economic Relations from the American University and is a Fulbright scholar.
Thibault Meilland is a gender analyst for Enterprise Surveys. He previously worked for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) in Copenhagen, and for TNS-Media Intelligence in Paris. Mr. Meilland holds a M.A. in Comparative Politics from Sciences Po (IEP de Paris), and a M.A. in International Economics and Conflict Management from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS).
Rita Ramalho is the Program Manager of the Enterprise Analysis of the World Bank Group. This unit produces the Women, Business and the Law report and the Enterprise Surveys. Women, Business and the Law presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees, in part drawing on laws contained in the Gender Law Library. Both resources can inform research and policy discussions on how to improve women's economic opportunities and outcomes. Enterprise Surveys provide the world's most comprehensive company-level data in emerging markets and developing economies. Enterprise surveys data are available on 120,000+ firms in 125 countries. Data are used to create indicators that benchmark the quality of the business and investment climate across countries form both female and male entrepreneurs. Ms. Ramalho holds a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her previous research focuses on the impact of regulation on economic variables such as growth, where she found that better business regulations can lead to more growth. Currently she is researching the impact of regulations of female labor force participation, tax policy and entrepreneurship, labor regulations, and the size of informal sector. She speaks Portuguese and is conversant in Spanish.
Paula Tavares joined the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law team in 2010 after working on the Investment Climate Department’s Health in Africa Initiative. Ms. Tavares currently focuses on conducting research and analysis of the legal and regulatory framework affecting women’s economic capacity and entrepreneurship. Her prior legal experience includes working with government multilateral trade agreements, private sector initiatives and non-governmental organizations. Ms. Tavares is a Brazilian lawyer and holds an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center with a concentration in trade and development and a specialization in International Relations from the University of Brasilia, Brazil. She is a member of the Brazilian Bar and speaks Portuguese, Spanish and French.
- Women, Business and the Law 2012 report: Methodology
- Women, Business and the Law 2010 report
- Women, Business and the Law 2010 report: Methodology
- Access the 128 countries covered by the 2010 report