Many Women Need Husbands’ Permission to Get Jobs: World Bank

Washington: Observing that legal barriers to the economic advancement of women are widespread in many countries around the world, shutting them out of certain jobs, limiting their access to credit, and leaving them vulnerable to violence, the World Bank today said that in as many as 18 nations women need permission of their husbands to get a job.

“It is a grave injustice when societies place legal restrictions on women’s ability to get a job, or participate in economic life. Women – like men – deserve every opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter where they live,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said after the release of the report ‘Women, Business and the Law 2016’.

The report, which examines laws that impede women’s employment and entrepreneurship, finds that women face job restrictions in 100 of the 173 economies monitored.

For example, women are barred from working in certain factory jobs in 41 countries, in 29 countries they are prohibited from working at night, and in 18 countries they cannot get jobs without permission from their husbands.

Only half of the economies covered have paternity leave, and less than a third have parental leave, limiting men’s ability to share childcare responsibilities, said the report.

In 30 countries, married women cannot choose where to live and in 19 they are legally obligated to obey their husbands, the World Bank said.

“These restrictions are bad economics. Women represent over half the world’s population. We can’t afford to leave their potential untapped – whether because laws fail to protect women against violence, or exclude them from financial opportunities, property ownership or professions,” World Bank president said.

“When women can work, manage incomes and run businesses, the benefits extend far beyond the individual level – to children, communities and entire economies. We will not rest until women have full economic rights everywhere,” Mr Kim said.

In an interaction with reporters, World Bank Vice President and Chief Economist, Kaushik Basu, said it is really a large bloc of the world where there is some discrimination against women in the workplace.

“We find that there are 18 countries where husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. So, it’s not the prevention that comes from cajoling and persuading but it’s a legal empowerment to stop them from working in 18 countries,” he said.

Forty-six of the economies do not have a specific law for protecting women against domestic violence, he added.