EVEN as rich countries seek to rid workplaces of subtle gender bias, in many developing ones discrimination remains overt. According to the World Bank, women are barred from certain jobs in 104 countries (see map).
“Gender equality in labour law is associated with more women working and earning more relative to men,” says Sarah Iqbal of the Bank. Yet some countries publish lists of jobs deemed too dangerous for women (Russia’s 456 include driving a train or steering a ship). Others stop women from working in entire sectors, at night or in “morally inappropriate” jobs (in Kazakhstan women cannot bleed or stun cattle, pigs or small ruminants). In four countries women cannot register a business. In 18 a husband can stop his wife working.
The aim is often to protect the “weaker sex”. Some laws put women in the same category as children; they concern jobs seen as physically tough, such as mining, construction and manufacturing. Others relate to broader safety...Continue reading