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November 20, 2019

Europe and Central Asia make progress on gender equality

womenThe countries of Europe and Central Asia have made progress in terms of gender equality. Over the last two years, 15 legislative reforms aimed at improving the economic integration of women have been implemented in the region, shows the latest Word Bank report entitled “Women, Business and Legislation 2018”.

However, countries in the region are lagging behind in providing adequate protection for women against violence, especially at work. Still widespread in the region are women’s limitations on certain jobs, says the biennial report analyzing women’s employment and entrepreneurship laws in 189 countries, including 25 countries in the region of Europe and Central Asia.

In its fifth edition, the report introduces rating system from 0 to 100 to make better track of progress in implementing reforms. Each monitored country receives points on each of the seven indicators that are addressed in the report, namely: access to institutions, disposing of property, employment and employment stimulation, access to the judicial system, access to credit, and protection of women against violence.

“The countries in the region of Europe and Central Asia do not usually distinguish women and men in many of the Women, Business and Legislation indicators. However, the lack of adequate protection against domestic violence or sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as the existence of restrictions on in terms of employment, can reduce the potential income of women and limit their participation in the labor market”, said Rita Ramalho, Senior Global Indicators Manager at the World Bank Group.

Over the past two years, several countries have lifted the legal barriers to women’s employment. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a number of restrictions have been lifted on women’s employment, including jobs that are considered heavy, harmful and underwater. Bulgaria is mentioned in the report as the state that has abolished all restrictions on women’s employment, and in Tajikistan the the night shift restriction for women is abolished.

However, in 14 countries in the region there is a ban on working women in some industries, and in nine countries there is a ban on performing certain types of work that is considered dangerous, severe or morally inadmissible. On average, the region registers 77 points on the employment indicator, with only two countries, Latvia and Lithuania, marking the maximum of 100 points.

Among the other reforms implemented in the region, including Albania, are the adoption of a new labor code that introduces equal pay for men and women in the same job. Similarly, a new law prohibiting gender discrimination in the workplace is adopted in Turkey, and the same applies to promotions. Azerbaijan and Moldova have adopted legislation of the same age for retirement of men and women as well as for paying full insurance. In Albania and Moldova, paid paternity leave was introduced to help women continue their work after giving birth.

The region has the most unsatisfactory results in terms of building a credit system that restricts women’s access to capital. Seven countries receive 0 points for this indicator and only two gets 100 points, while the overall score for the region is 33 points.

The indicators are also low in the field of women’s protection against violence, as the region has average 59 points. Almost a quarter of the countries in the region have no laws against bullying at work.

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