Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 27 economies in all regions and income groups enacted reforms to remove obstacles to women’s economic inclusion across all areas and increased good practices in legislation since 2019, according to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2021. The greatest number of reforms introduced or amended laws affecting pay and parenthood.
Most reforms were implemented in laws affecting women’s pay
Bahrain, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam eliminated restrictions on women’s employment in jobs previously deemed dangerous for women. Montenegro and Saudi Arabia also eliminated all restrictions on women’s employment in industrial jobs such as mining, construction, manufacturing, and the water sector, setting men and women on equal terms in choice of employment opportunities. Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia lifted bans on women’s night work.
The Marshall Islands, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates reformed their laws to introduce legislation mandating equal remuneration for men and women who perform work of equal value.
Reforms related to parental leave and marriage remain high on economies’ agendas
Laws affecting women’s work after having children remained high on the reform agenda. Five economies made reforms in this area, leading to improvements in eight data points.
Despite this progress, the report notes that parenthood is the area that leaves the most room for improvement globally. This includes paid parental leave, whether benefits are administered by the government, and whether the dismissal of pregnant women is prohibited. Reforms are also needed to address the restrictions women face in the type of jobs, tasks, and hours they can work, segregating them into lower-paid jobs. And
Shuting Sun and Divyanshi Wadhwa contributed to this blog.