World Bank Sees Improvement in Removing Gender Equality Barriers

The removal of barriers to gender equality in several West African countries is the latest sign of a global improvement in women’s legal status over 50 years, a World Bank report showed.

In the last two years, 44 economies took 48 measures improving women’s opportunities and no measures worsening parity were adopted, according to the bank’s biannual Women, Business and the Law report. Ivory Coast and Mali were among the four countries where the most changes occurred, while Togo also took action, it said.

“That’s three countries in this region, that to me signifies there is a trend and momentum moving in this direction,” lead author Sarah Iqbal said in a telephone interview. Globally, “we have come a long way but there’s a lot that remains to be done.”

While the bank’s database shows that half of legal restrictions on women in place in 1960 were removed by 2010, almost 90 percent of countries covered by the report still currently have at least one discriminatory measure, it said. Such hurdles are making it more complicated for women to enter the workforce, even though adding women to the labor market could boost growth from Egypt to Italy, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday.

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