Research & Publications

Filling the Gaps : Childcare Laws for Women's Economic Empowerment

This paper aims to provide global evidence on whether and what attributes of laws governing the provision of childcare services affect women's labor market outcomes. It merges country-year-level data from the World Bank's Women, Business and the Law database, which documents childcare laws across countries, with data on women's labor force participation from ILOSTAT. Using a difference-in-difference estimation framework, the analysis finds that the enactment of childcare laws increases women's labor force participation by 2 percent, on average. Moreover, the effect increases over time, reaching up to 4 percent five years after an enactment. This effect is driven by women who are married, have completed less than primary education, and are between the ages of 35 and 44. Lastly, regulation of the availability and affordability of childcare has a similar impact on female labor force participation, whereas the effect of quality regulation is smaller.

Accelerating Gender Equality Through Reforming Legal Frameworks

This thematic note emphasizes the role of laws and regulations in safeguarding women’s economic opportunities, for the purpose of informing the update of the World Bank Group’s Gender Strategy. The note demonstrates the importance of legal gender equality and draws on data and analysis from the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law initiative and other evidence to explore legal barriers that hinder women’s economic participation and showcase successful reforms. It also offers examples of how World Bank projects have addressed legal frameworks toward gender equality and concludes with proposals for future areas of operational focus and research.

Gendered Laws and Women’s Financial Inclusion

This paper documents the relationship between legal gender equality and the use of financial services, using individual-level data from 148 developed and developing economies. The analysis, which combines data from the Global Findex and Women, Business and the Law databases, highlights the existence of a significant and positive correlation between gender equality in the law and women’s access to financial products.

The Evolution of Maternity and Paternity Leave Policies over Five Decades: A Global Analysis

This research analyzes the evolution of maternity and paternity leave across the world, covering 190 countries over 52 years. The data show striking differences both within and between countries in how leave distribution for parents upon the birth of a child has evolved.

Gendered Laws, Informal Origins, and Subsequent Performance

This research explores the relationship between laws that discriminate on the basis of gender and the probability that a female-owned business begins operating in the informal sector. This is achieved by tracing the origins of formal businesses surveyed in the World Bank Enterprise Surveys and merging this with information on the level of legal equality between genders as measured by the Women, Business and the Law database.

Absent laws and missing women: Can domestic violence legislation reduce female mortality?

This study explores the relationship between the presence of domestic violence legislation and the adult mortality of women relative to men. Using a panel of 159 economies between 1990 and 2014, domestic violence legislation is found to be associated with a lower women-to-men adult mortality ratio.

Gendered Laws and Women in the Workforce

This paper uses the World Bank’s newly constructed Women, Business and the Law 50-year database to provide the first global look at how gender discrimination by the law affects women’s economic opportunity and chart the evolution of legal inequalities over five decades.

Discriminatory Environment, Firms' Discriminatory Behavior, and Women's Employment in the Democratic Republic of Congo

This paper contributes to better understanding firms' discriminatory behavior in the presence of gender-based legal discrimination and its linkages with labor market outcomes for women in a developing country setting.

Gendered Laws

This policy research working paper uses the 50 years of Women, Business and the Law data to chart the evolution of legal gender equality over time and to examine its relationship to women’s labor market outcomes.

Discriminatory Laws Against Women : A Survey of the Literature

This policy research working paper reviews the empirical literature on the existence and impact of gender discriminatory laws on women's outcomes across various domains that constitute the Women, Business and the Law measure of gender inequality.

Tackling Childcare

This note showcases how different countries regulate private childcare services. It builds awareness of how quality childcare services are linked to women's economic empowerment and identifies areas for reform.

Compendium of International and National Legal Frameworks on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Published by the World Bank Legal Vice Presidency in partnership with Women, Business and the Law and external consultants, the Compendium on International and National Legal Frameworks on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace provides a collection of international instruments that address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, and national legislation adopted to prevent and prosecute such cases.

Compendium of International and National Legal Frameworks on Domestic Violence

Published by the World Bank Legal Vice Presidency in partnership with Women, Business and the Law and external consultants, the Compendium on International and National Legal Frameworks on Domestic Violence provides a survey of the key international and regional instruments as well as national legislation as they relate to domestic violence.

Getting to Gender Equality in Energy Infrastructure

This study examines the social and gender footprint of large-scale electricity generation, transmission, and distribution projects to establish a foundation on which further research and replication of good practices can be built.

Child Marriage Laws and Their Limitations

This brief summarizes findings from research undertaken by Save the Children and the World Bank on the lack of legal protection against child marriage for girls and marriages that take place below the national minimum age of marriage.

The Tackling Childcare Project

A WBL and IFC study of 50 countries highlighting the business case for employer-supported and privately provided childcare.

Ending Violence against Women and Girls

Part of a series that assesses the role of laws and specific programs or interventions in ending violence against women and girls.

Does Paternity Leave Matter for Female Employment in Developing Economies?

Results from a sample of 53 developing countries show that women’s employment among private firms is significantly higher in countries that mandate paternity leave versus those that do not.

Unequal before the Law: Measuring Legal Gender Disparities across the World

This study explores the degree of legal gender disparities across 167 economies around the world. A high degree of legal gender disparities is found to be negatively associated with a wide range of outcomes.

Women's Legal Rights over 50 years: Progress, Stagnation or Regression?

Using a database of women’s property rights and legal capacity covering 100 countries over 50 years, this paper analyzes the triggers and barriers to reform. The database documents gender gaps in the ability to access and own assets, to sign legal documents in one’s own name, and to have equality or nondiscrimination as a guiding principle of the country’s constitution.

Women's Movements, Plural Legal Systems and the Botswana Constitution: How Reform Happens

This paper explores the role that judges and national courts play in implementing gender equality principles and upholding state commitments to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.