The global war against women: the NYT weighs in big

From Somini Sengupta, a New York Times journalist, a crisp, short, devastating  statement of facts about a World Bank study laying out the global war against women, and naming countries, including the U.S.A.:

A World Bank study said 90 percent of the countries surveyed have at least one law that discriminates against women.

Source, New York Times: Report Finds Most Nations Hinder Women

Here’s the entire article:

The United States is one of four countries around the world with no national laws requiring paid parental leave for new mothers.

Russia bars women from a variety of jobs, including freight train conductor and mining rig operator.

And Iran and Qatar are among 18 countries that require a married woman to ask for her husband’s permission to go to work.

Those are among the findings of a World Bank study of 173 countries on how domestic laws impede women’s ability to work, open a business and participate in public life.

The bank said 90 percent of the countries surveyed had at least one law that discriminated against women — and that, in turn, has far-reaching consequences for women, their families and their countries’ prospects.

The bank does not require countries to remove those legal barriers, but in the report, issued Wednesday, Kaushik Basu, the bank’s chief economist, said, “Removing these can unleash energy and growth.”

The study is the latest to explore how domestic laws discriminate against women; an advocacy group, Equality Now, produced a report this year, as did the International Monetary Fund.

All this comes 20 years after a landmark United Nations conference in Beijing in which countries pledged to advance gender equality. The next round of development goals, which world leaders are expected to adopt this month, calls on countries to achieve gender equality by 2030.

The restrictions on women are spread across rich and poor countries, the World Bank study found, and where there are no restrictions on women’s work, the wage gap between men and women is likely to be lower. The restrictions also vary greatly.

In France, for instance, women are prohibited from jobs that could require lifting more than 25 kilograms, or about 50 pounds, which the chief author of the study, Sarah Iqbal, compared to the weight of an average 5-year-old. That restriction prohibits women from, say, delivering FedEx packages.

Thirty-two countries, including Barbados, Egypt and Uganda, prohibit a married woman from applying for a passport without her husband’s permission.

Some former British colonies still have colonial-era legislation that bars women from certain farm and factory jobs. Jamaica just scrapped one such law, according to the report.

“If you’re cutting out half your population from employment and entrepreneurial activity, you’re reducing overall” economic growth, Ms. Iqbal said.

Most countries have some legal provisions for paid parental leave, making the United States an outlier in this regard, along with Suriname, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. (United States law provides for unpaid parental leave.)

The most restrictive laws are in the Middle East, where nations prohibit women from applying for a passport or opening a business without the permission of their husbands. The 11 “most restrictive economies,” the report found, are several American allies, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq, along with Iran and Syria.

One change that the report applauded was that 127 economies have specific legislation against domestic violence, unlike 25 years ago, when very few countries had such laws on the books.

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