Majority of Countries Discriminate Against Women Economically
Around the world, 167 countries have at least one law on the books that restricts women’s economic opportunity, a new study from the World Bank has found.
The Women, Business and the Law report measures how laws in 189 countries affect women’s access to jobs, property, justice and credit, as well as provisions to protect them from violence and discrimination.
While the proportion of countries with discriminatory laws remained more or less the same since the last survey – 88 percent of countries surveyed this year had at least one restrictive law compared to 89 percent in 2016 – the report found there had been 87 legal reforms made in 65 countries to increase women’s economic opportunities over the past two years.
Since 2016, 28 countries have made it easier for women to get jobs, and 24 lifted restrictions on women building credit.
CSW62 Calls for Quality Care, Better Infrastructure and an End to Violence Against Women
On March 23, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women – the largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s rights – closed its 62nd session with an agreement on a range of concrete “next steps and recommendations” to lift rural women and girls out of poverty and ensure their rights and well-being.
More than 4,300 representatives from 600 civil society organizations and 170 member states attended this year’s two-week-long meeting, which addressed, among other issues, the continuing discrimination and social and economic marginalization of women and girls in rural areas.
The Agreed Conclusions are designed to provide a roadmap for governments, civil society organizations and women’s groups to follow as they work toward gender equality in rural areas. They include: reforming discriminatory laws and norms that deny women access to economic resources such as land and natural resources, property and inheritance rights; providing quality social services to reduce the disproportionate amount of unpaid care and domestic work that falls on women and girls; increasing access to infrastructure and technology in rural areas; and accelerating action to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
“The Commission’s agreement on measures to bring substantive equality to women and girls in rural areas is a vital step forward,” the executive director of U.N. Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said in her closing remarks. ”Rural women themselves must be able to speak up and be heard in all consultations, and youth delegations must be included at all levels. These agreements are made in the meeting rooms of New York but must take effect in the lives of women and girls we are here to serve.”
South Africa Delays Controversial Minimum Wage
South Africa has announced it will have to push back the implementation date of its new minimum wage as the government deals with the large volume of public submissions contesting various parts of the bill.
The country’s first ever universal minimum wage, which was due to go into effect on May 1, guarantees workers a wage of at least 20 rand per hour (about $1.66). But it has proven controversial, mainly due to the exception it makes for certain types of workers, including domestic workers – the vast majority of whom are women. Domestic and agricultural workers are guaranteed a lower wage of at least 15 rand per hour ($1.24), which should increase to the full minimum by 2020.
Before the new minimum wage can be implemented, it must go through a parliamentary process that includes considering public submissions made against the bill. So far, over 40 submissions have been made, including some from women’s rights groups and unions who argue the minimum wage is too low and the exceptions will disproportionately affect the country’s most vulnerable workers.
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