Reforms needed for better Sri Lanka female labor force participation: World Bank

Youth-day

Sep 10, 2015 (LBO) – Legal discrimination, which can affect female labor force participation, is prevalent in Sri Lanka, a new World Bank report says.

“Women are prohibited from working in the mining sector and restricted from certain tasks/functions in factories,” the World Banks group’s Women, Business and the Law 2016 report, released Wednesday said.

“Moreover, there are no laws against gender-based discrimination in hiring or access to credit.”

“Women in South Asia continue to trail their peers in many other parts of the world, as discriminatory laws thwart their economic advancement.”

The report says several other economies from the South Asia region are among the most restrictive in the world in the dimensions measured affecting women’s entrepreneurship and employment.

The region as a whole has been lagging in enacting reforms in the areas measured by the report, with only three reforms made in two economies in the past two years.

The report, published every two years, examines laws that impede women’s employment and entrepreneurship in 173 economies throughout the world and the 2016 edition expands coverage in South Asia from five to eight economies, adding Afghanistan, Bhutan and the Maldives.

The report says, Afghanistan, which is one of the most restrictive economies in the world, imposes more than 20 legal barriers to women’s economic inclusion.

“In Afghanistan, married women cannot choose where to live, apply for a passport, or obtain a national ID card in the same way as married men,” it said.

“Women also cannot work in the same jobs as men.”

In India, the region’s largest economy with 612 million women, job restrictions 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 addition, there are no laws to protect women against sexual harassment in public places, protections which exist in 18 other economies around the world.

In the last two years, India undertook one reform in the areas monitored by the report.

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

In Pakistan also the report says, many restrictions on women prevail.

“In order to register a business, married women need to include their husband’s name, nationality, and address – and they need to do this in the presence of a witness,” the report said.

“Women are also barred from working in many jobs, including those in factories and in mining.”

“And there are no laws guaranteeing women equal remuneration for work of equal value and no laws mandating non-discrimination based on gender in hiring.”

However according to the report Pakistan issued two reforms in 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 underage marriage.

Pakistan also introduced a 22 percent quota for women in local government.