A woman is equal to three-fourths of a man; unequal economic rights cause a loss of $160 trillion

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Published: April 30, 2019 6:07:35 PM

The discriminatory laws between men and women across the world not only curb women’s economic rights, but also cause of loss of as much as $160 trillion in wealth.

Although reforms have improved economic inclusion of women, yet gaps remain as women worldwide on an average have only three-quarters of the legal protection than men during their working life, according to a new index released based on a ten-year study by the World Bank recently. This puts constraints on their ability to get jobs or start businesses and make economic decisions best suited for them and their families, said the report.

The economic curbs on women range from bans on entering some jobs to a lack of equal pay or freedom from sexual harassment, said the World Bank “Women, Business and the Law 2019: A Decade of Reform” report.

Previously in 2018, a World Bank report noted that the discriminatory laws between men and women across the world not only curb women’s economic rights, but also cause of loss of as much as $160 trillion in wealth.

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Given equal opportunities to men and women to reach their full potential, the world would not only be fairer but also be more prosperous, said World Bank Group’s interim president Kristalina Georgieva in a statement.

The researchers in the 2019 report have produced an equality index to measure the progress over the last decade, under which they studied laws linked to women’s work and economic freedom, including the right to work in all the same jobs as men and get paid equally, penalties for sexual harassment at work, parental work protections and inheritance rights.

While six countries namely Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Swede, scored a perfect score of 100 in the index compared to none 10 years ago, 56 countries have made no improvement in equality in the same period, the report noted.

Further, the index also pointed out towards wide variations across regions. For instance, while the Central Asia and Europe had the highest regional equality score, with women getting about 85 percent of the rights granted to men on average, the Middle East and North Africa women had fewer than half the rights of men.

Moreover, pointing out that a perfect score was no guarantee that rights are being respected, Jacqui Hunt, Europe director of global women’s rights group Equality Now, urged the governments to proactively work in order to fight gender discrimination. Apart from the legal and regulatory reforms, it also emphasised that the governments, civil society, international organizations must work together to achieve the goal.

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