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Despite Slow Progress, Report Finds Improvement in Economic Gender Equality

(Image: Roey Yohai)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of global indicators and analysis for the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, joined AS/COA on March 6 to discuss the results of the Women, Business and the Law report. The publication analyzed data measuring discrepancies in laws and regulations that make it difficult for women to participate in the labor force. The report reviewed 141 economies and identified 45 legal restrictions for women, which were split into six indicators. These included factors such as a woman’s ability to get a job, manage property, travel abroad, and build credit.

While there has been encouraging movement toward equality reforms worldwide, the report found many disparities remain that hinder women’s participation in the economy. Lopez-Claros noted that “just becoming rich” doesn’t necessarily address the gender gap. Chile, for example, is one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America. But it is one of the least equal countries when it comes to gender equality.

Lopez-Claros also explained that in many regions married women face more legal challenges than single women, such as a loss of property rights after getting married. “The data seem to be saying essentially that marrying is a bad business for women in many parts of the world,” he said.

According to the report, eight countries in Latin American and the Caribbean made changes to laws that had an impact on women’s participation in the workforce. Of the eight countries, only Bolivia shifted away from gender equality, while seven countries made changes to enhance opportunities for women. For example, Honduras and Mexico instituted a small claims court, and Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela increased the maximum amounts allowed in these types of courts. Peru introduced paternity leave, and Chile established equal-pay-for-equal-work in the labor code.

Watch a video from Lopez-Claros’ presentation.