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End Discriminatory Laws, and Transformative Change Can Follow

Tazeen Hasan's picture

A woman in South Africa. © Trevor Samson/World BankIn September 2013, four elderly sisters in Botswana were finally and definitively allowed to remain in the ancestral home where they had spent most of their lives — the result of their own tenacity and determination that a young nephew could not step in and take ownership of a property they had lovingly maintained.

This landmark decision by the highest court in Botswana, the Court of Appeal, followed five years of efforts by women’s networks and legal associations who helped the sisters bring their claim. The judges decided that customary laws favoring the rights of the youngest male heir were simply out of date.

“The Constitutional values of equality before the law and the increased leveling of the power structures with more and more women heading households and participating with men as equals in the public sphere and increasingly in the private sphere demonstrate that there is no rational and justifiable basis for sticking to the narrow norms of days gone by when such norms go against current value systems,” wrote Justice Lesetedi of the Botswana Court of Appeal.

The reform of discriminatory laws can lead to transformative change.

When Business Gets Personal: How Laws Affect Women's Economic Opportunities

Yasmin Bin-Humam's picture

12-12-12 marks an auspicious day on which couples are rushing to get married. Globally, many women and men have been waiting for this day to mark as the day they got married. Those who miss it will need to wait 100 years to have another chance like this one again. But depending on where in the world they are, getting married will mean different things for these women, their career and future business opportunities.

In many economies around the world women are legally prevented from conducting basic transactions which are necessary precursors to entrepreneurship and employment. Women, particularly married women, can be barred from actions such as opening bank accounts, determining where to work or live, and having the ability to move freely. In some economies married women need their husbands’ permission to carry out such actions.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

CIPE
Closing the Implementation Gap

“In every country, sound laws are a key foundation of democratic governance and economic development. Crafting such laws, however, is only part of the path to success. The other half is making sure that the laws are properly implemented – which is often more challenging.

When laws and regulations are not properly adopted, such discrepancy creates an implementation gap – the difference between laws on the books and how they function in practice. This gap can have very negative consequences for democratic governance and the economic prospects of countries and communities. When laws are not properly implemented, that undermines the credibility of government officials, fuels corruption, and presents serious challenges for business, which in turn hampers economic growth.”  READ MORE

Why does the legal environment matter for women’s access to capital?

When asked about what she thought was key in advancing women’s rights, Cherie Blair, lawyer and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, replied, “I believe that actually financial independence is very important so we need a financial framework that recognizes women as equals, that enables them to have access to finance, access to capital to have their own financial independence.”  For women in the developing world, property rights can be a factor in getting access to finance. (Credit: World Bank Photos)

And this brings to the table another question: What are the hurdles that women face when trying to access capital?

For many women entrepreneurs across the world, getting a loan to start or expand their business can prove challenging. This is particularly true in the developing world where banks often require borrowers to pledge their home or land as collateral. Women, who tend to lack such assets, are placed at a disadvantage. Legal restrictions on women’s property rights can exacerbate the problem.