Recent developments in law reform

AuthorDeniz Devrim - Roland Blomeyer - Paul Dalton - Senni Mut-Tracy
Discriminatory Laws Undermining Women’s Rights
with a coalition of CSOs, filed a case in the ECOWAS Cour t of Justice which res ulted in Sierr a Leone being
ordered t o revo ke th e ban in Decem ber 2019 (Equalit y Now, 2019b; Am nesty Int ernation al, 2019b). Other
related refo rms have taken place over the past two years in Burundi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (HRW,
4 Recent developments in law reform
4.1 Global state of play of legal reform toward gender equality
Over 2.5 billio n wom en an d girls aro und t he wo rld are a ffecte d by di scrimina tory laws and t he lack o f legal
protections, often in multiple ways (McKinsey Global Institute, 2015). This is despite the fact that at least
191 constitutions include provisions on equality and non-discrimination and 189 cou ntries hav e ratified
CEDAW 28. A sizeable number of Stat es have made reservations to CEDAW with res pect to articles 2, the
obliga tion to elim inate all for ms of discr iminat ion ag ains t wom en, as we ll as art icle 16 , o n t he equ ality of
men and women in marriage and family relations (OHCHR, 2019). Despite steady progress in many parts of
the world, the World Bank found that 56 countries did not make any reforms to improve formal legal
equality between m en and women in the areas of em ployment and access t o economic oppo rtunities
over the past decade (Wor ld Bank, 2019b). S till toda y, 104 coun tries have laws pr eventin g women from
working in specific jobs and in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working
(Wor ld Bank , 2019a).
Number o f countri es where laws grant equality
countries grant equal right to open bank accounts
countries have laws addressing domestic violence
coun tries give eq ual inh erit ance r ights t o boys and gir ls
countries have laws that prohibit sexual harassment at the workplace
countries have equal pay laws
Number o f countri es where discri minatory l aws persist
countries where women cannot apply fo r a passp ort in the same way as m en
countries where women cannot obtain a judgment of divorce in the same way as men.
countries where women do no t have the s ame rights to remarry as men
countries where women are n ot able to work in the sam e industries as men
countries do not pro vide paid maternity leave of at leas t 14 weeks
countries where childcare is not accou nted for in pens ion benefits
Source: World Bank ( 2020 ). Women, Busine ss and the Law database.
Table 2: Overview of global stat us for reform of laws that di scriminate against women29
28 UN Women, Global Ge nder Equalit y Constit utional Dat abase. Available here : htt ps://constit utions.unwomen.or g/en
29 Source: World Bank, Women, Business and t he Law dataset (1970-2019). Available here:

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