Women's legal rights lag farthest on parenthood and pay

Simeon Djankov (PIIE), Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg (PIIE) and Marie Hyland (World Bank)
May 7, 2020

Women's legal rights lag farthest on parenthood and pay

In the eyes of the law, women throughout the world suffer unequal treatment compared with men, according to a study of 190 economies by the World Bank. This disparity shows up in all stages of a woman’s working life.

Globally, the average woman has three-quarters the legal rights of a man. The greatest inequality exists in laws surrounding how much she gets paid and her rights at work after having children. In the countries surveyed, laws regulating parenthood, such as provision of paid maternity leave and treatment of pregnant workers at work, receive an average score of 53.9. Laws surrounding pay equality fare only marginally better.

Laws on freedom of movement are more favorable, with an average score of 87.2 for women. These laws govern, for example, a woman’s right to choose where to live, obtain a passport, and travel outside her home and country.

On a global scale, laws governing women’s pay and their treatment after having children need to be reformed the most.

This PIIE Chart was adapted from Marie Hyland, Simeon Djankov, and Pinelopi Goldberg’s working paper, “Gendered Laws and Women in the Workforce.”

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Simeon Djankov Senior Research Staff
Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg Senior Research Staff