WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia tops the list of countries for laws that limit women’s economic potential, while South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have made the least progress over the last 50 years in improving women’s economic opportunities, a report issued yesterday says.
Of the 143 countries surveyed in the World Bank study, 28 make 10 or more legal distinctions between the rights of men and women, and half of these countries are in the Middle East and North Africa, followed by 11 in sub-Saharan Africa, it said.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, legal restrictions have been cut in half since 1960.
But the Middle East region shows the least progress and some countries have gone backwards. Yemen and Egypt have removed from their constitutions bans on gender discrimination. Iran has allowed husbands to prevent their wives from working, placed restrictions on women’s mobility and limited their work in the judicial sector, the report said.
About 25 percent of countries surveyed have no laws addressing domestic violence and the Middle East and North Africa region has the least protections, the report found. Additionally, Algeria and Morocco are the only countries in the region that have laws addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.