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PRESS RELEASE November 12, 2018

Legal Barriers to Women’s Economic Inclusion Discussed at World Bank Event in Chile

SANTIAGO, November 12, 2018 – Legal hurdles to women’s entrepreneurship and economic inclusion came under the spotlight today at an event which highlighted the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law report.

The event, organized in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), was attended by Ms. Isabel Plá Jarufe, Minister of Women and Gender Equality of Chile and Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of CEPAL.

The latest edition of Women, Business and the Law, released earlier this year, finds that governments in 65 economies took steps to improve women’s economic inclusion, enacting 87 legal reforms in the past two years.

However, women continue to face widespread barriers, entrenched in laws, that keep them out of jobs and prevent them from owning a business by restricting their access to credit or control over marital property. For example, in 104 economies, women are barred from working at night or in certain jobs in many areas, including manufacturing, construction, energy, agriculture, water and transportation. This negatively affects the choices of more than 2.7 billion women.

In a message to participants, Ms. Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice-President and World Bank Group General Counsel, said: “Legal gender equality has an impact not only on women themselves, but on their families, communities and economies. 28 trillion dollars can be added to global growth by advancing women’s equality. In Latin America and the Caribbean only, this would mean $2.6 trillion dollars of additional annual GDP in 2025.”

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 10 reforms were carried out in the past two years to repeal discriminatory laws. Highlights of the reforms include Colombia, where the Constitutional Court struck down job restrictions on women’s employment; and Ecuador, which equalized men’s and women’s property rights by no longer allowing a husband’s decisions to prevail when spouses disagree on how to administer assets. Paraguay increased the length of paid maternity leave from 63 to 98 days and the percentage of wages received during maternity leave from 50% to 75%. Paraguay also increased the length of paid paternity leave from 2 to 10 days. Both the Dominican Republic and Peru increased the length of paid maternity leave to 98 days.

The region’s strengths lie in the areas of Using Property and Accessing Institutions, with an average score of 98 and 97, respectively. On both indicators, almost all economies on the Latin America continent score a perfect 100 with varying scores in the Caribbean Islands. The region could improve on the Getting a Job indicator. Of the 33 economies covered in the region, less than half meet the International Labor Organization standard of 14 weeks or more of maternity leave. Close to 40 percent of the 33 economies covered score 0 in Building Credit. All the economies in the region with the exception of Haiti have legislation protecting women from domestic violence, and 22 out of 33 economies have legislation addressing sexual harassment in employment.

Chile performs well in the area of Providing Incentives to Work with a score of 100, being one of 8 economies in Latin America and Caribbean to have a full score in this indicator. Mexico is the best performing economy in the region across most indicators of Women, Business and the Law.

The report introduces, for the first time, a scoring system of 0 to 100, to better inform the reform agenda. Scores are assigned to every monitored economy on each of the report’s seven indicators: Accessing Institutions, Using Property, Getting a Job, Providing Incentives to Work, Going to Court, Building Credit, and Protecting Women from Violence.

While no economy gets the perfect score of 100 in all seven indicators, economies that perform well across the indicators include the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Spain. OECD high-income economies generally have the highest average score across most indicators.

The full report and its datasets are available at

PRESS RELEASE NO: 2018.12.11


Sandra Arzubiaga
+51 6222339