Discrimination Against Women: the Legal System and Economic Prospects

By Woo Chun Lai
Published on March 13th, 2021

Despite supposedly being impartial, the law remains a cornerstone in discriminating against women For instance in the UK, it was not until 2003 that the Law against Rape was, in all due practicality, that a male Perpetrator who had unwanted sexual relations with a women had to be acquitted so long as he did not perceive unwillingness on behalf of the victim during the act. This is only the tip of the iceberg when discussing the institutionalised discrimination set in place by society against women. This article will seek to uncover some of these imbalances. Given the magnitude of the issue, this article may only delve into the shallow end of the injustice faced by women and cannot in any sense provide a full picture of the oppression under these unequal Laws.

To begin, we should have a brief overview of several pieces of data in order to better understand and contextualize the inequality which is prevalent throughout the Globe. The data in question will be the WBL score, a scoring system derived from a network of over 10,000 experts across the legal profession including Lawyers, Judges, Civil Society Representatives and public officials, and seeks to capture the inequality in legislation throughout the duration of a woman’s professional career through the use of several 35 individual issues of legislation divided into eight separate categories, that of: Going Places, an analysis on constraints in movement; Starting a Job, an analysis on the effect of laws in a woman’s decision to work; Getting Paid, an analysis on the effects of the legal system on a woman’s pay; Getting Married, an analysis on potential legal constraints on the issue of marriage; Having Children, an analysis on potential effects on the careers of women after conceiving; Running a Business, an analysis on potential constraints to women who seek to start or to run a business; last but not least, Getting a Pension, which analyzes the potential effects on a woman’s ability to cash in her pension at the end of her professional Career. A score from 0-100 is then given after all these factors are taken into Consideration.

Now that the Parameters for these scores have been explained in detail, it is time to move onto some actual Data. In 2019, the global average was 75.23 out of 100,suggesting women around the world only hold three quarters of the rights and privileges afforded to men under the law. However the global average alone is insufficient to potential trends.For that, it is necessary to individually assess each country’s score breakdown. Some nations showed that women enjoyed equal if not greater rights than men, nations such as Belgium, Canada, Denmark and France just to name a Few. Others however were put in a far less favourable light. nations such as Sudan, Gaza and Yemen all scored less than 30 points, uncovering severe gender inequality in these nations. Under this scoring system, nearly 180 million women around the world possess half the rights of their male Counterparts. In terms of geographical distribution, Europe and Central Asia boasted the highest score of 673.8 in total, while the Middle east and North Africa came in last and only received a score of 396.5 across all 8 Criterion.

It is possible that some might judge an individual nation’s commitment to Gender Equality simply on the basis of economic prosperity or geographical location alone, due to the general trend listed above, with economically developed nations or Continents scoring higher than their less developed Counterparts. However it is necessary to understand that economic performance is only one of the factors that affect equality or inequality in some cases, and it would be unwise to draw conclusions without first taking into account other factors, such as a nation’s values or certain social norms. Therefore it would be more prudent in most cases to View a nation in a holistic manner instead of just on economic Indicators Alone. It is also interesting to note however, that total scores may also be misleading when viewed singularly. Such as in the case of the Middle East and North Africa. Even though they came in last overall, they do outperform other continents on individual parameters such as in the case of Running a Business, where they maintains a relatively high score of 80 and thus outperforming other continents with a higher total score, such as South Asia which only managed to score 71.88 marks in this Category.

It is natural then, to assume that this worrying trend will not last as our world moves towards greater inclusivity and equal rights for all genders, and this is true in a sense. But the pace of legal reform varies across the globe, and indeed across the different categories of female economic empowerment. The category of ‘Starting a Job’ saw an amount of improvement. However, this improvement can sometimes be due to purely economic considerations instead of a real desire for Social Justice. For instance, the rapid improvement of female rights in ‘Starting a Job’ can be attributed to a desire to increase the labour pool by integrating women, rather than a concerted effort to empower Women. As such, it can be said that without a complete change in the priorities of societies around the world, the goal of complete emancipation is and will remain little more than a wishful Fantasy.

Subscribe to our newsletter

View our latest posts

Subscribe to our newsletter