Washington, D.C., October 10, 2008—The
World Bank and IFC have launched an online library of laws and regulations
that affect the ability of women around the world to participate in business.
The library makes available hundreds of laws and regulations that prescribe
different treatment of women and men in 181 countries.
The new Gender Law Library is part of
a World Bank Group effort to monitor and analyze how legal and regulatory
environments shape opportunities for women. The library is a joint initiative
of the Bank Group’s Doing Business Project and the World Bank’s Gender
Action Plan, supported by Vital Voices. It is part of a two-year research
initiative on women’s economic empowerment.
According to World Bank studies, better
economic opportunities for women are associated with higher incomes, higher
literacy, better health, and faster economic growth. Economic opportunity
is also critical to the Millennium Development Goal of achieving gender
equality and empowering women.
“This new resource is a starting point
for governments, civil society, and researchers to get a better picture
of the legal framework shaping a woman’s ability to do business,” said
Penelope Brook, Director of Indicators and Analysis at the World Bank Group.
“The library will be a baseline for researching which reforms of business
regulation will have the most impact on women.”
The online library follows the approach
of the Doing Business Project, documenting laws and regulations actually
in place, providing a basis to analyze the impact of regulation—and of
reforms in laws—that differentially affect women. While research finds
that countries with burdensome regulation tend to have higher unemployment
rates and slower economic growth, researchers have lacked easy access to
national legal provisions needed to do cross-country analyses of how business-related
regulations affect women.
Topics covered in the library include
national legal statutes on property and inheritance rights, business registration,
and employment. The library also identifies countries that are signatories
of gender-related international conventions.
The library encourages peer participation,
inviting researchers, donors and other development practitioners to contribute
law texts, summaries, and comments. It is available at www.doingbusiness.org/genderlawlibrary.
Note to Editors: Media representatives
are invited to attend the official launch of the library in Washington,
D.C., on Saturday, October 11, by H.E. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Federal
Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany. The minister
is also co-chair of the High Level Advisory Council on Women's Economic
Empowerment, and Official Champion of the World Bank Group Gender Action
Plan. To register, contact Rebecca Ong (email@example.com).
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group,
creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives.
IFC fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting
private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory
and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s new
investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase
over the previous year. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
About the Doing Business Project
Doing Business ranks economies
based on 10 indicators of business regulation that track the time and cost
to meet government requirements in starting and operating a business, trading
across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. The rankings do not
reflect such areas as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure,
currency volatility, investor perceptions, or crime rates.
About the World Bank Gender Action
The World Bank Group’s Gender Action
Plan, formally launched in February 2007 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel,
seeks to advance women’s economic empowerment in client countries as a
way to promote shared growth and accelerate the implementation of the third
Millennium Development Goal. The Action Plan commits the World Bank
Group to intensify gender equality work in the economic sectors over four
years, in partnership with client countries, donors, the private sector,
and other development agencies. The World Bank Gender and Development Unit
manages and coordinates the Gender Action Plan activities.