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Violent behavior, lack of jobs hindering gender equality

Published on 12th Sep, Edition 37-38, 2016


Pakistan is keen to achieve all the objectives outlined under the UN in SDGs

In nearly 100 countries of the world, women face gender-based job restrictions. There are no laws for women guaranteeing equal remuneration for work of equal value and no laws mandating non-discrimination based on gender in hiring, this was recently published in the World Bank notes Women, Business and the Law 2016.

It was also observed that in 18 countries, husbands could legally prevent their wives from working while 41 countries prohibit women from working in certain factory jobs while 29 do not allow women to work at night.

Despite this detriment and largely out of economic necessity, an increasing number of women have been entering the workforce in recent years as violence and lack of jobs are amongst key barriers for women in developing countries.

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 economies; in 29 economies they are prohibited from working at night; and in 18 economies they cannot get a job without permission from their husband.

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.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Syria, Qatar, and Kuwait along with Afghanistan, Sudan, Mauritania and Brunei are the 15 most restrictive economies in terms of women’s ability to work or establish a business, as measured by the report.

In 30 economies, married women cannot choose where to live and in 19 they are legally obligated to obey their husbands. In 35 countries, women do not have the same inheritance rights as men when their spouses die. Even when there are laws in place, women are often pressured to give up their inheritance.

The report is published every two years. It takes into account seven indicators namely accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit and protecting women from violence.

Domestic violence

The World Bank report also finds that laws protecting women from domestic violence are becoming more common around the world, partially in response to growing international efforts and commitments on violence against women.

Almost 127 economies have legislation against domestic violence, compared to almost none 25 years ago. Yet, that leaves 46 economies among the ones measured that still do not have these legal protections.

In Russia, for example, women are barred from 456 jobs. Only half of the countries studied offered paternity leave, and less than a third had provisions for parental leave, putting the onus for childcare on women.

Women job restrictions in India remain widespread, with women not allowed to work in mining or in jobs that require lifting weights above a certain threshold or working with glass. The law also prohibits women from jobs involving danger to life, health or morals.

In the last two years, India by introducing a law mandating, at least one female member on the board of publicly listed companies, it became the only developing country and one of only nine countries in the world to mandate female inclusion on corporate boards.

Over the past two years, 65 countries carried out 94 reforms increasing economic opportunities for women.


Pakistan determination

Among some of the gender-specific requirements for Pakistani female entrepreneurs is for married women to include in the presence of witness of their husband’s name, nationality and address while registering a business.

Pakistan is ranked second after Afghanistan in the region on the list of a number of more laws that restrict women’s economic opportunities.

Pakistan has 14 laws that limit women’s economic opportunities against 22 laws in Afghanistan, five laws in India, seven in Sri Lanka, nine in Nepal and one in Maldives. However, Pakistan seems to be more liberal in this regard against Saudi Arabia with 29 laws and Iran 23.

Pakistan has introduced number of reforms over the past two years. It set the legal age of marriage for both boys and girls at 18 years and introduced criminal sanctions for men who contract marriage with a minor and anyone who performs, facilitates or permits under-age marriage.

The country also introduced a 22 percent quota for women in local governments, the report mentioned.

In high-income Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies, where women enjoy broad-based equality, efforts to promote women’s economic opportunities continued, with 12 economies enacting 15 reforms in the past two years.

In 18 countries, husbands can even legally prevent wives from working, although that is fortunately not the case in Pakistan.

Pakistan is determined to achieve gender equality and empower women as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi quoted as saying recently.

At the ‘strategies to eliminate violence against women’ event organized by the Pakistan Mission to the UN during the 60th session of the Commission for the Status of Women (CSW), Malieeha Lodhi said that Pakistan is keen to achieve all the objectives outlined by the UN in SDGs.

While highlighting the country’s achievements in this regard, the Pakistani envoy maintained that violence against women was a key concern in Pakistan’s overall agenda of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“Physical violence has been described as the most shameful of all human rights violations and one of the most intractable to eliminate,” she asserted, conceding that “we have come a long way, but challenges still exist”.

The fifth SDG, which has nine major targets calls for, among other practices, an end to discrimination and violence against women in public and private spheres, ending child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, recognizing unpaid care and domestic work and promoting shared responsibility within the household.

The SDGs are a set of universal goals agreed on after three years of negotiations at the UN General Assembly in September last year. They are an expansion of the Millennium Development Goals agreed on at the beginning of the new century.

The UN envoy also highlighted the critical role of the media with respect to changing social attitudes, alongside education.


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