Women, Business and the Law 2016
Table of Contents
About Women, Business and the Law
Though legal gender parity has improved around the world, major differences persist. Many laws and regulations continue to prevent women from improving their own well-being and that of their families by working or running a business. How can governments improve regulations to benefit women entrepreneurs and workers? Since its inception in 2009, Women, Business and the Law has collected unique data on laws and regulations constraining women’s entrepreneurship and employment. The dataset illuminates how government policies limit women’s full economic participation through unequal laws and a business environment that does not adequately support the businesses women tend to concentrate in. By gathering and analyzing comprehensive, quantitative data to compare legal gender differences across economies and over time, Women, Business, and the Law offers objective and measurable benchmarks for assessing where reforms have occurred that can also be helpful in measuring global progress toward legal gender equality.
Getting to Equal
Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal, the fourth in a series, provides quantitative measures of laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunities. This edition covers 173 economies, including 30 economies that were not previously covered. The previous edition of Women, Business and the Law found that 90% of economies measured had at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities. This still holds true, even though this edition covers over 20% more economies. Getting to Equal has significantly expanded in depth of data covered. It builds on the growing body of research and empirical evidence that stresses the importance of legal and institutional frameworks in shaping women’s economic rights and opportunities and improving gender equality. For the first time, it explores laws in areas such as gender discrimination in access to credit, financial support for parents, care leave for sick relatives, child marriage, marital rape and protection orders for victims of domestic violence. The data in this report are current as of April 2015. Why do gender differences matter? Equality of opportunity allows women to make the choices that are best for them, their families and their communities. However, opportunities for women are not equal where legal gender differences are prevalent. Such restrictions constrain women’s ability to make economic decisions in a variety of ways, and can have far-reaching consequences. Moreover, they are associated with real economic outcomes. Gender gaps in women’s entrepreneurship and labor force participation account for estimated income losses of 27% in the Middle East and North Africa, 19% in South Asia, 14% in Latin America and the Caribbean and 10% in Europe. Worldwide, if all women were excluded from the labor force, income per capita would be nearly 40% lower. Thus, legal gender differences are estimated to significantly decrease female labor force participation and undermine GDP growth. Highlights from Women, Business and the Law 2016
- Legal gender differences are widespread: 155 of the 173 economies covered have at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities.
- The total number of legal gender differences across 173 economies is 943.
- In 100 economies, women face gender-based job restrictions.
- 46 of the economies covered have no laws specifically protecting women from domestic violence.
- In 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
- Lower legal gender equality is associated with fewer girls attending secondary school relative to boys, fewer women working or running businesses and a wider gender wage gap.
- Over the past two years, 65 economies carried out 94 reforms increasing women’s economic opportunities.
Key findings Methodology Women, Business and the Law examines laws and regulations that affect women’s ability to earn an income, either by starting and running their own businesses or by getting jobs. Legislation can affect women’s economic potential directly and indirectly. Thus, the indicators covered in the report capture both laws that directly differentiate between men and women and laws that indirectly have a greater impact on women’s ability to be entrepreneurs and employees. The methodology was designed to be an easily replicable way to benchmark the legal and regulatory environment for women. It covers seven indicators:
- Accessing institutions: explores women’s legal ability to interact with public authorities and the private sector in the same ways as men.
- Using property: analyzes women’s ability to access and use property based on their ability to own, manage, control and inherit it.
- Going to court: considers the ease and affordability of accessing justice by examining small-claims courts, as well as a woman’s ability to testify in court and the incidence of women on constitutional courts.
- Getting a job: assesses restrictions on women’s work, such as prohibitions on working at night or in certain jobs. This indicator also covers laws on work-related maternity, paternity and parental benefits, retirement ages, equal remuneration for work of equal value and nondiscrimination in hiring.
- Building credit: identifies minimum loan thresholds in private credit bureaus and public credit registries, and tracks those which collect information from microfinance institutions, utilities and retailers.
- Providing incentives to work: examines personal income tax credits and deductions available to women relative to men, and the provision of childcare and education services.
- Protecting women from violence: examines the existence of legislation on domestic violence, sexual harassment, child and early marriage and marital rape.
Economies Covered in Women, Business and the Law 2016
Women, Business and the Law objectively highlights differentiations on the basis of gender in 173 economies around the world:
In March 2016 Women, Business and the Law added 16 economies to its data set, covering 189 economies total:
|East Asia & Pacific||Kiribati | Marshall Islands | Federated States of Micronesia | Palau | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Vanuatu|
|Europe & Central Asia||Cyprus | San Marino|
|Middle East & North Africa||Libya|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||Cabo Verde | Central African Republic | Comoros | Eritrea | Gambia, The | Guinea-Bissau|
Online Gender Database
The Women, Business and the Law online gender database provides data organized by topic and/or country with easy access to primary legal sources. This resource has strong potential to be used as a tool by civil society organizations, social entrepreneurs, and development groups 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.