17th December 2019
WORKPLACE GENDER EQUALITY 257 YEARS AWAY : WEF
GENEVA: Women may have to wait more than two centuries for equality at work, according to a report showing gender inequality growing in workplaces worldwide despite increasing demands for equal treatment. While women appear to be gradually closing the gender gap in areas such as politics, health and education, workplace inequality is not expected to be erased until the year 2276, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The organisation, which gathers the global elite in the plush Swiss ski resort of Davos each year, said that the worldwide gender gap in the workplace had widened further since last year, when parity appeared to be only 202 years off. The Geneva–based organisation's annual report tracks disparities between the sexes in 153 countries across four areas: education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment. The overall gender gap across these categories has shrunk, with WEF now forecasting it will take 99.5 years for women to achieve parity on average, down from the 108 years forecast in last year's report. But while some sectors have shown improvements, others lag far behind. WEF said the gender gap was more than 96% closed in the area of education and could be eliminated altogether within just 12 years. The gap was equally small in the health and survival category, but the WEF report said it remained unclear how long it would take to achieve full parity in this domain due to lingering issues in populous countries like China and India. Politics, meanwhile, is the domain where the least progress has been made to date, but it showed the biggest improvement in the past year.
Women in 2019 held 25.2% of parliamentary lower–house seats and 22.1% of ministerial positions, compared to 24.1% and 19% in 2018. But when it comes to the workplace, the picture is less rosy. The report, which looked at a variety of factors, including opportunity and pay, said it would take 257 years before there was equality in the workplace. It highlighted positive developments, like a general increase in the share of women among skilled workers and senior officials. But it stressed that this trend was counterbalanced by "stagnating or reversing gaps in labour market participation and monetary rewards". On average, only 55% of adult women are in the labour market today, compared to 78% for men, while women globally on average still make 40% less than men for similar work in similar positions. The wage gap has been steadily shrinking in OECD countries over the past decade, but it has at the same time expanded in emerging and developing economies, the WEF report showed.
11th December 2019
FINLAND'S NEW PRIME MINISTER YOUNGEST IN THE WORLD
Prime Minister Sanna Marin
Finland has a new government, headed by Social Democratic Party vice chair, Sanna Marin.
At just 34 years old, Marin, the former Minister for Transport and Communications, is now the world's youngest premier. Her cabinet consists of 12 women and seven men. All leaders of the five–party government coalition are women.
There was plenty of praise for the new government, with observers commending its youth and composition – including the opposition. "A historic day: the world gets the youngest sitting prime minister and Finland gets a government in which all of the party leaders are women. It is amazing that this is possible, specifically in Finland," chair of the opposition National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo tweeted.
Seen as a liberal advocate for climate and environment issues, Marin was raised in a "rainbow family" as she is the child of same sex parents. She was also the only child in her family and was the first person in her family to attend university. She has told Finnish media about growing up in what she described as modest circumstances, discrimination, past struggles to identify her way in life, and the fulfillment she found in politics. In January 2018, she had a daughter Emma with her husband Markus Raikkonen.
12th March 2019
UN: POLITICAL POWER OF WOMEN SUFFERING FROM SERIOUS REGRESSION
There has been a “serious regression” in the political power of women across the world in recent years, UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa told delegates to the annual summit of women activists at UN Headquarters in New York held recently.
The former Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs who leads the 193-member world body, pointed out that in 2105 it would have taken 30 years to close the gender gap, but now, she told the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), if current trends continue, gender parity will not be reached for “107 years”.
She commended the under-appreciated women of past who “were made invisible, erased from history”, saying they “have been protagonists in the destinies of entire nations; of culture and political thinking; science and innovation; and the most significant social changes. We don’t know anything about many of them. But for those we do, we must recognize their bravery and the immense contribution they made to humanity. Today we are here for them.”
Ms. Espinosa praised the leap forward towards full gender parity at the UN, under Secretary-General António Guterres, saying it was a “testament to the fact that when there is political will, and leadership, it is possible to change the course of history”.
Mr. Guterres informed the high-level event that “for the first time in history, the UN Senior Management Group is comprised of more women than men”, adding “we have achieved another first – parity among the Resident Coordinators – our leading officials on the ground.”
He noted that resistance and obstacles remained to further progress at the UN, promising that: “We will push back against the pushbacks, and we will not give up until we reach parity across the board”. While the UN was on its way “to reaching parity at all senior levels by 2021”, Mr. Guterres lamented that it was far from the case elsewhere.
Women and girls represent half of the global population, yet, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions in every region of the world.
As of October 2018, only nine per cent of Member States had a female Head of State or Government and only 24 per cent of parliamentarians were women, according to the UN. Moreover, in 31 States, women account for less than 10 per cent of parliamentarians in single or lower houses, with four chambers lacking any women members at all. And among the 2018 “Fortune 500” rankings of leading US businesses, only 24 have women CEOs and 12 companies have no women at all on their board.
“We need parity to change power relations”, Mr. Guterres said in conclusion, thanking the gathering “for powering the change our world needs”.
“Without women in politics, sustainable development, human rights and peace, will be seriously jeopardized,” she stated. We need more women in politics”.
13th February 2019
UN: ENGAGING WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SCIENCE 'VITAL' FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Boosting the number of women and girls entering careers involving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is vital to
achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, UN chief António Guterres said in a message to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
However, women and girls remain “woefully under-represented”, said the Secretary-General, for reasons that include gender stereotyping, a lack of visible role models and unsupportive - or even hostile - policies and environments, at a national level.
The Secretary-General called for concerted efforts to overcome these obstacles, tackle misconceptions about girls’ abilities, and promote access to learning opportunities for women and girls, particularly in rural areas.
The International Day was established in 2015, following the adoption of a General Assembly resolution, signalling the international community’s interest in achieving equality and gender-parity in science for sustainable development, and recognizing that full access and participation in STEM subjects is imperative for the empowerment of women and girls.
The 2019 theme of the Day was “Investment in Women and Girls for Inclusive Green Growth,” and the two-day event was held at UN Headquarters
in New York, bringing together global experts and leaders to evaluate the economic and social impact of women’s participation in science-based sustainable development programmes.
The event featured a high-level panel focusing on the public-sector financing of science for green growth, investment to attract and retain high calibre women in science, and financing to ensure gender equality in science.
UN data shows that only around 30 per cent of female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.
2nd May 2017
FIRST HOTEL RUN BY WOMEN IN UAE
Dr. Sheikha Noori Jaber
V.P, Time Asma Hotel, Dubai
TIME Hotels Management has unveiled plans for a new four-star hotel in Dubai’s Al Barsha ‘shopping’ district, TIME Asma Hotel, which aims for 80% of team members to be female, led by general manager Ghada Mahgoub, with dedicated facilities for female guests.
Due to open in Q4 2017, plans are in place for two floors of the hotel to be reserved exclusively for female travellers, with dedicated services, including: dedicated room service, a female-only check-in counter, dedicated women-only guest relations, in-house baby-sitting services, in-room tablets highlighting all of the services offered for women such as bespoke beauty products, in-room beauty treatments, as well as enhanced amenities in each room. The hotel will also offer options to book women-only taxis and female-dedicated parking spaces. True to its name, the hotel will offer a truly unique experience for women, making them feel special.
Women continue to be under-represented in the hospitality industry, especially in senior management positions. An equal numbers of male and female graduates leave hospitality school, but fewer women enter in the hotel workforce, which shows the industry must do more to attract and support female professionals and their aspirations for career development.
And quite apart from the issues of gender, the concept has a commercially viable strategy. Globally, women make 80% of all decisions concerning travel and spend more than $125 billion every year, with women aged between 40 and 60 representing the largest growth of any age bracket.
23rd August 2016
TIME FOR CHANGE: WOMAN POWER AT UN?
The United Nations is to get a new secretary general in 2017 as Ban Ki-moon's term ends on 31 December 2016. Five of the eleven candidates running for the position of UN Secretary General are women. Ban Ki-moon had recently stated that it is high time a woman lead the body which was set up 70 years ago. "We have distinguished and eminent women leaders in national governments or other organizations or even business communities, and cultural and every aspect of our life. There is no reason why not in the United Nations."
The time is right. The decision will be that of the 15-member Security Council which will recommend candidate to the 193-member General Assembly. A woman chief at the UN could see a Security Council where one of the five permanent members is represented by a woman.
All five of the women candidates are brilliant and achievers in their respective fields. They are Susana Malcorra, Foreign Minister of Argentina. The 61-year-old has led the World Food Programme and worked with IBM; Helen Clark from New Zealand is the first woman to lead the UN Development Programme. The 66-year-old former college lecturer was prime minister from 1999-2008, and advocates sustainable growth; Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica, one of the chief architects of the Paris accord on climate, was the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for six years; Natalia Gherman, the youngest of the candidates, the 47-year-old career diplomat was Moldova's minister of foreign affairs and European Integration from 2013 to January 2016; and Irina Bokova, the 64-year-old director general of United Nations Cultural Organization is the first woman to head UNESCO. She champions gender equality and improved education.
It is unfortunate that there is no candidate from the SAARC Region, but there is always a next time. Our ISAW members are happy that for the first time there are so many women candidates for this coveted position. The UN, with a mandate to address some of the world's biggest humanitarian issues, the most impossible job in the world, could hopefully go to a woman! Here's to women power!
9th March 2016
CONQUERING THE SKY
|India’s first batch of women fighter pilots Flight CadetsAvani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh and Bhawana Kanth
Ayesha Farooq became Pakistan’s first combat-ready female fighter pilot
Until the early 1990s women were disqualified from becoming fighter pilots in most of the air forces throughout the world. The exceptions being Turkey where Sabiha Gökçen became one of the first female fighter pilot in history in 1936 and went on to fly fast jets well into the 1950s, and the USSR during the Second World War 1942–1945 where many women were trained as fighter pilots including Lilya Litvyak who became the top scoring woman ace of all time with 12 Kills and Katya Budanova a close second with 11 kills, although both were killed in combat. In the last decade of the twentieth century a number of air forces have removed the bar on women becoming fighter pilots. Fighter pilots are one of the most highly regarded and desirable positions of any air force.
The argument that is periodically trotted out is that putting women in fighting units puts them at risk of being captured, tortured and raped in times of conflict. But this is a highly sexist and male chauvinistic excuse. For, male soldiers are equally at risk of being captured and tortured during war. And if sexual abuse of female POWs is the issue, there’s ample evidence to suggest that captured male soldiers – against the norms of the Geneva Conventions – suffer that too.
In the SAARC Region, the Pakistan air force began inducting women into its fighter pilot program in 2006, becoming the first South Asian country to do so. It has also recruited women as aeronautical engineers in recent years. Prior to these inductions, women primarily served in the administrative and medical branches of the military. In 2013 Pakistan became the first country to induct women fighter pilots in the SAARC Region. Ayesha Farooq became the first combat-ready female fighter pilot. Covered in Hijab, she is a strong, confident woman capable of destroying anyone who poses a threat to Pakistan. An inspiration for all Pakistani women. In India women were first inducted in 1991 but only for choppers and transport aircraft. In 2012 two women were trained for combat roles in helicopters. Marking International Women’s Day India’s Air Force chief Arup Raha announced that India would get its first women fighter pilots in June this year. Flying Cadet Avani Chaturvedi, along with Flying Cadets Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, are on the threshold of entering history books in the country by being the first three women cadets to be cleared for flying fighter aircraft. They will be commissioned on June 18, 2016.The women can't wait to be fighters soaring the skies, living their dream and becoming the dream for several others hoping to fly one day too.
We hope that the women in the other countries in the SAARC Region would also be inspired to conquer the sky.
26th December 2015
ISAW APPLAUDS UN SECRETARY-GENERAL'S CALL FOR A WOMAN TO SUCCEED HIM
Sushma Swaraj, India’s Minister of External Affairs
Institute of South Asian Women (ISAW) has written a letter appealing to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suggest the name of Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, for the top post of Secretary-General of UN. The post falls vacant at the end of 2016 when the current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon retires.
This comes in context of the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s unprecedented call to member states to recommend women candidates for the top job of Secretary-General of UN. For the last 70 years the top job has been held by a man. He has been a strong proponent of electing a woman as his successor and has said several times that “it’s high time for a secretary-general to be a woman”.
An excellent orator and a prominent ‘next generation leader’, Sushma Swaraj has proved her mettle as the External Affairs Minister for the last one year in the government. She has very articulately represented India at several meetings worldwide. Her recent trip to Pakistan to iron out the differences and pave the way for a peaceful relationship between India and Pakistan speak volumes of her statesmanship. We are confident that she would bring laurels to the country if her name is recommended.
A strong promoter of gender equality, ISAW Director, Prem Ahluwalia, while applauding the call of the current UN Secretary-General to have a woman to succeed him, says there is a need for gender equality at all levels and a woman heading the top post of UN will send a strong message worldwide of equal opportunity for men and women to hold senior decision-making positions. Having Sushma Swaraj as the UN Secretary-General would be a big booster for women empowerment in India and the entire world.
15th November 2015
WOMEN MINISTERS HELP REDUCE GENDER GAP IN INDIA
India has improved its ranking in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report 2015 moving up from rank 114 in 2014 to 108 among 145 countries. The improvement has come mainly on the back of stronger representation of women in political leadership. However, in health survival India has regressed over the past decade and ranked third from bottom, 143 out of 145 countries.
India's rise in the rankings was mostly thanks to a doubling of the number of women in ministerial positions, which pushed up the proportion of women in ministerial positions from 9% to 22%.
In economic participation, India slipped five places to 139 out of 145 this year, the lowest position it has occupied on this criteria since the measuring of gender gap began in 2006. On this count, it has declined not only relative to its international peers, but also in absolute terms, with a wider gap today than 10 years ago, stated the report. India's ranking in health is pulled down by its ranking for one of the sub-indicators, sex ratio at birth, where it was ranked 143 ahead of only China and Armenia.
The annual report put together by the WEF since 2006, measures the gap between men and women in health, education, economic opportunity and political representation. The overall ranking of a country is on the basis of its performance in these four areas. The top five ranks are dominated by Nordic countries — Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden in that order — followed by Ireland at No. 5, having risen from rank 8, pushing out Denmark, which failed to get a place within the top 10.
Interestingly, Rwanda, which entered the index just last year, was ranked at No. 6 moving up by one place and Philippines ranked 7, the only non-OECD countries to figure in the top ten. Major economies in the top twenty included Germany (11), France (15) and the UK (18). The US was ranked 28.
Among the BRICS grouping, the highest-placed nation remained South Africa (17), supported by strong scores on political participation. Russia (75) was next, followed by Brazil (85), which lost 14 places this year due to growing wage gaps and a decline in the number of women in ministerial level positions. China (91) lost four places falling from its rank of 87 in 2014. Yemen remained at the bottom of the index as it has since 2006, despite significantly improving relative to its own past scores.
The report noted that despite an additional quarter of a billion women entering the global workforce since 2006, wage inequality persists, with women only now earning what men did a decade ago.
2nd November 2015
60PC WORKING WOMEN TIED TO AGRICULTURE IN SAARC REGION
Sixty percent working women in SAARC Region are linked to agriculture that can be lifted out of poverty if this sector is promoted. Women are intentionally kept poor and unprotected in many countries which is discrimination, it said.
All the countries stress importance of female education but their share in economy is very small which is blocking their development, said PBIF President and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain.
He said that majority of the women working in agriculture are not paid while they are kept away from critical decision. He said that government should focus on agriculture to support farmers and improve their standard of living. The issues facing this sector should be resolved and provision of loans should be facilitated.
Improvement in the lives of farming communities will boost share of agriculture in the GDP while expanding reach of microfinance banks will help them. Mian Zahid Hussain called for special emphasis on agricultural insurance to mitigate risks farmers face every year.
29 September 2015
UN COMMITS $25 BILLION FOR HEALTH OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
World leaders begin pledging support as Secretary-General launches the “Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health” to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced over $25 billion in initial commitments spanning five years to help end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents, and ensure their health and well-being. Heads of State and Government, international organizations, the private sector, foundations, civil society, research and academic institutions, and other key partners joined the event during the UN Summit for the adoption of the sustainable development agenda to pledge their support to the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.
With ambitious yet achievable targets and fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Strategy offers a roadmap to end all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents, and ensure that they not only survive, but also thrive and transform the world.
“The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which I am proud to launch today, will help to build resilient and healthy societies. We have shown that our partnership can yield concrete results. I, and the entire UN system, remain dedicated to saving and improving the lives of the most vulnerable amongst us,” said Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
The commitments announced are expected to grow significantly in the coming years, and include new policies and groundbreaking partnerships from 40 countries and over 100 international organizations, philanthropic foundations, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector. The amount pledged so far also includes an estimated $6 billion of in-kind contributions, as well as commitments to the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child, launched during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, in Addis Ababa in July.
The result of extensive consultations, with contributions from more than 7,000 individuals and organizations, and developed in close collaboration with Every Woman Every Child partners, the Global Strategy applies to everyone, everywhere—from humanitarian and crisis settings to schools and community health centers. It presents an accountability framework and highlights the benefits of innovation. Finally, it stresses that countries are in the driver’s seat and young people, at the heart of the SDGs.
At the launch event, world leaders showed their country’s support and announced their commitments besides Heads of UN agencies, including UNFPA, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNAIDS, among others, also pledged their support, reflecting the breadth of the partnerships and level of political commitment that underpin the Global Strategy.
September 24, 2015
URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO COMBAT ONLINE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS, SAYS UN REPORT
Millions affected globally, but most countries still failing to effectively address growing problem
A new report released by the United Nations Broadband Commission reveals that almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence, and urges governments and industry to work harder and more effectively together to better protect the growing number of women and girls who are victims of online threats and harassment.
The report notes that despite the rapidly growing number of women experiencing online violence, only 26 per cent of law enforcement agencies in the 86 countries surveyed are taking appropriate action.
Entitled Cyber Violence Against Women & Girls: A Worldwide Wake-Up Call, the report was released at an event at United Nations Headquarters in New York by the Commission’s Working Group on Gender, which is co-Chaired by UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, and UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Working Group members, who also include representatives from the tech sector and civil society, hope the report will mobilize the public and private sectors to establish concrete strategies aimed at stemming the rising tide of online violence against women.
Without concerted global action to curb the various escalating forms of online violence, an unprecedented surge of ‘cyber violence against women and girls (cyber VAWG)’ could run rampant and significantly impede the uptake of broadband by women everywhere, the report contends. It notes that cyber VAWG already exists in many forms, including online harassment, public shaming, the desire to inflict physical harm, sexual assaults, murders and induced suicides.
The rapid spread of the Internet means that effective legal and social controls of online anti-social and criminal behaviours continue to be an immense challenge. And in the age of the social Internet and ‘anywhere, anytime’ mobile access, cyber violence can strike at any time, and can relentlessly follow its targets everywhere they go.
“In this report we’re arguing that complacency and failure to address and solve cyber violence could significantly impede the uptake of broadband services by girls and women worldwide,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission, alongside UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “The Net is an amazing resource for personal empowerment, and we need to ensure that as many girls and women as possible benefit from the amazing possibilities it offers.”
Key findings of the report include:
- • An estimated 73 per cent of women have already been exposed to, or have experienced, some form of online violence.
- • Women in the age range of 18 to 24 are uniquely likely to experience stalking and sexual harassment in addition to physical threats.
- • Nine million women in the European Union’s 28 countries alone have experienced online violence as young as 15 years old.
- • One in five female Internet users live in countries where harassment and abuse of women online is extremely unlikely to be punished.
- • In many countries women are reluctant to report their victimization for fear of social repercussions.
- • Cyber VAWG puts a premium on emotional bandwidth, personal and workplace time, financial resources and missed wages.
“Online violence has subverted the original positive promise of the Internet’s freedoms and in too many circumstances has made it a chilling space that permits anonymous cruelty and facilitates harmful acts towards women and girls,” said UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. We want to reclaim and expand the opportunities it offers. That means recognizing the scale and depth of the damage being done – and taking strong, concerted steps to call it – and stop it. Abuse online is still abuse, with potency and very real consequences.”
The report presents a set of Key Recommendations, proposing a global framework based around three ‘S’s – Sensitization, Safeguards and Sanctions. The report argues that rigorous oversight and enforcement of rules banning cyber VAWG on the Internet will be an essential foundation stone if the Internet is to become a safe, respectful and empowering space for women and girls, and, by extension, for boys and men.
September 23, 2015
CALL FOR CESSATION OF WAR AND WORLD PEACE
The 1st Annual Commemoration of World Alliance of Religions’ Summit was held in Seoul, Korea recently. It was attended by about 300 people from various fields and international law experts. In order to create an institutional framework for the realization of peace, a draft convention on the cessation of war was presented. Addressing the Summit, Nam Hee Kim, the chairwoman of the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) said, “Soon our children will no longer have to learn the word ‘war’. Achieving the cessation of war and world peace within our generation so that our future generations will live in peace instead of war - that is the biggest achievement perceived from last year's WARP Summit." The participants included the youth, women, and journalists, as each group holds an important role in achieving peace.
The highlights of the Summit were:
1. To fundamentally resolve international armed conflicts for which HWPL invited international law experts, as suggested by Chairman Man Hee Lee, and presented the Convention on the Renunciation and Cessation of War and International Armed Conflicts, which was drafted by members of the HWPL Peace Advisory Council. HWPL aims to send the final convention to heads of state around the world and have it ratified, and to go through the deliberative process of the UN so that the convention will be fully adopted and implemented. Also, it was proposed that UN agencies should monitor and oversee the enforcement of the convention by each state.
2. Chairman Lee addressed the importance of the youth and women in the implementation of the international convention on the cessation of war. He stressed that they should raise their voices to monitor the implementation process of the convention. For this purpose, the IWPG and IPYG presented the Statement to Urge for the Implementation of an International Convention on the Cessation of War, which all participants signed to strengthen their determination. A worldwide online signature campaign will be launched soon as a means of implementing and expanding the project. Nam Hee Kim, the chairwoman of the IWPG, said in her speech that, “When the ability of international law experts, heavenly wisdom of HWPL, and work of the youth and women come together, all wars on earth will be brought to an end. Along with all women of the world, members of the IWPG will support the work of international law experts.”
This event was more than just an international peace conference; it was a harmonious combination of culture and technology that took the cultural events to the next level.
Institute of South Asian Women, an affiliate member of International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), endorses the views of IWPG and believes that for achieving the cessation of war and having world peace; women can play an important role.
September 10, 2015
WOMEN'S PROSPECTS LIMITED BY LAW IN 155 COUNTRIES, FINDS WORLD BANK STUDY
Two decades after Beijing declaration on gender equality, women’s economic opportunities and working rights still widely subject to restrictive legislation
Afghanistan, like countries in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere in South Asia, has laws that limit the ability of women to work and move freely.
About 155 countries have at least one law that limits women’s economic opportunities, while 100 states put restrictions on the types of jobs women can do and 18 allow husbands to dictate whether their wives can work at all, according to a World Bank report that paints a stark picture of the enduring obstacles women face in achieving economic empowerment.
Of the 173 countries studied for the report, entitled Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal, 32 require women to get permission from their husbands to apply for a passport and 22 do not allow married mothers to confer citizenship on their children. Thirty states have legislation that designates men household heads, while women in 19 countries are legally obliged to obey their husbands.
More positively, over the past two years, 65 countries – the majority developing states – have made 94 reforms to their statute books to improve gender parity. There has also been progress in tackling violence against women: 127 countries now have laws on domestic violence, compared with just seven 25 years ago.
Countries including Canada, Peru and Namibia, were among 18 found to have no legal restrictions on women in the seven areas studied.
The report, published on Wednesday, coincides with the 20th anniversary this month of the landmark Beijing platform for action, which committed 189 countries to address gender disparities in 12 critical areas. The Beijing declaration, agreed at the fourth world conference on women in 1995, promised a world where women could earn equal pay for equal work, live free from violence, have access to decent healthcare and education, and have a say in decision-making. The report highlights the gaps that remain between paper promises and daily realities.
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa had the most discriminatory laws, particularly around women’s ability to work or move freely. But south Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, were also found wanting, having made the fewest reforms over the past two years.
Researchers found that 41 countries prohibit women from working in certain factory jobs, while 29 do not allow women to work at night. In Russia, for example, women are barred from 456 jobs.
Only half of the countries studied offered paternity leave, and less than a third had provisions for parental leave, putting the onus for childcare on women.
In 35 countries, women do not have the same inheritance rights as men when their spouses die. Even when there are laws in place, women are often pressured to give up their inheritance, the report says.
In countries that restrict a woman’s ability to make economic decisions, girls are less likely to finish secondary school and their prospects of running or managing a business are diminished, which is bad economics, says the World Bank. If a woman does manage to get a job, she is likely to earn less than a man.
The report, published every two years, looks at data on seven indicators – accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit and protecting women from violence.
This year’s report includes data from 30 more countries than the preceding 2013 edition. The latter found that 90% of countries had at least one law that impeded women’s economic opportunities. The same percentage is recorded in this year’s edition, despite the inclusion of 20% more countries.
“I thought that would change,” says the lead author, Sarah Iqbal. “That was quite significant. I felt for sure that that finding would not hold up, and we got exactly the same finding. It shows this is pervasive across the world.”
But Iqbal adds that studying legal and regulatory data from the past 50 years showed positive change often came after international human rights treaties, or after agreements like the Beijing platform for action or the Maputo protocol were signed. “It makes a difference,” she said, adding that she hoped to see more progress over the next two years following the adoption of the sustainable development goals, and their commitment to gender equality, later this month.
Legislation, however, is just the first step in a long chain to effective implementation and women’s empowerment, says Iqbal. It’s a process that can’t be rushed. “We encourage countries to develop at a pace that’s comfortable for them … local context matters,” she says. “Countries are moving in a positive direction.”
September 1, 2015
WOMEN IN NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS
Situation as of 1 September, 2015
The data in the tables below has been compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the basis of information provided by National Parliaments by 1st September 2015. The percentages do not take into account the case of parliaments for which no data was available at that date. Comparative data on the percentage of women in each National Parliament as well as data concerning the two regional parliamentary assemblies elected by direct suffrage can be found on separate pages. You can use the PARLINE database to view detailed results of parliamentary elections by country.