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Women still face legal and regulatory hurdles to participate fully in their economies around the world, a study by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has indicated.
The study titled: “Women, Business and the Law 2012: Removing Barriers to Economic Inclusion,” found that while 36 countries managed to reduced legal differences between men and women, 103 out of the 141 surveyed still imposed restrictions based on gender.
The report also identifies 41 law and regulatory reforms enacted between June 2009 and March this year that could enhance women’s economic opportunities.
Women worldwide represent 49.6 percent of the population but constitute only 40.8 percent of the workforce in the formal sector.
The study says legal differences between men and women may explain this gap.
A statement on the study released on Tuesday says economies with greater legal differentiation between men and women have on average lower female participation in the formal labour force.
It also notes that last year, the Global Gender Gap Index indicated that between 96 percent and 93 percent of the gender gap in health and education have been eliminated but the economic participation of women still remained at 40 percent.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the study says although there is no shortage of women entrepreneurs, women-run firms were more likely to be informal, smaller and operate in lower value-added sectors than those run by men.
The researchers blame the anomaly in part to the fact women tend to have less secure property rights and less capacity to legally act on their own in many African countries.
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