While some countries still break their heads over how to completely eliminate the psychologically entrenched patriarchy in their lives, most countries haven’t even had their legal systems do away with it.

 

A study by the International Monetary Fund shows how legal restrictions strongly and directly affect the labor force participation of women: like the requirement for women to seek their husband’s permission to work, restriction of women participating in specific professions, constraints on the ability of women to own property, or to inherit, or to obtain a loan etc.

 

Almost 90 percent of countries continue to hold up at least one important restriction, stipulated legally.

 

Perhaps Hilary Clinton’s declaration, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” is a good place to start from.

 

In 50 percent of the countries studied, the law advocated equity, and female labor participation rates increased by at least five percent over five years- like Kenya, Namibia and Peru who made legal changes and a positive transformation, as expected, set in.

 

When the new constitution in Peru declared men and women equal under the law in 1993, it also guaranteed equal opportunities for work. All traditional rules of practice contradicting these rights fell apart. Women’s labor force participation increased by 15 percent, as a result.

 

Of course, policy changes are also instrumental- like the provision of child care and maternity leave, but fundamental rights need to be enforced first.

 

What’s the solution?

 

There can be no one single solution to this problem, because no two countries have the same nature or extent of women’s issues. Thus, the solution must be multi-pronged, and customizable to be relevant in each country’s religious and social context.  But one thing is common- legal barriers must be targeted first, to level the playing field. Of course, other legal impediments with serious social implications, rather than economic- such as the way laws treat violence against women- must also be addressed, for a more synchronized and encompassing change in perceptions towards women.

 

Once a legal reform is reinstated, the resultant rise in female participation in the labor force will in turn, lead to higher growth in GDP- predictably 5 percent in the United States, 9 percent in Japan, 12 percent in the United Arab Emirates, and 34 percent in Egypt. It makes economic sense to increase women’s labor participation.

 

What must be noted, is that introduction of more equity in property rights or in the pursuit of a job or a profession will not come at the cost of male employment. Both genders have to work hand in hand. For example, in a rapidly aging economy, more sources of growth and production would always be welcome to boost overall numbers.

 

This is an endeavour to help women reach their full economic potential, to boost growth, prosperity and stability for the whole world- by giving them a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy!

 

Original Source: Huffington Post

Featured Picture Courtesy: Globalenvision.org