IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wbk/wbrwps/6616.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Women's legal rights over 50 years : progress, stagnation or regression ?

Author

Listed:
  • Hallward-Driemeier, Mary
  • Hasan, Tazeen
  • Rusu, Anca Bogdana

Abstract

Using a newly compiled 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 non-discrimination as a guiding principle of the country's constitution. Progress in reducing these constraints has been dramatic -- half of the constraints documented in the 1960s had been removed by 2010. However, some sticky areas persist where laws have not changed or have even regressed. The paper analyzes potential drivers of reforms. A significant finding is that the relationship with a country's level of development and the extent of its reforms is not straightforward. For the first half of the sample, there was no systematic connection; only in the last 25 years have increases in income been associated with higher probabilities for reform, but only in lower-income countries. With the remaining constraints as prevalent in middle- as low-income countries, increased growth is not necessarily going to spark additional reforms. Clearer patterns emerge from the momentum created by international conventions, such as the Committee to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), women's political representation at the national level, mobilization of women's networks, and increasing labor force participation in sectors that provide a voice for women, which are positive forces for change. Conversely, conflict and weak rule of law can entrench a discriminatory status quo. And much is at stake; strengthening women's legal rights is associated with important development outcomes that can benefit society as a whole.

Suggested Citation

  • Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Hasan, Tazeen & Rusu, Anca Bogdana, 2013. "Women's legal rights over 50 years : progress, stagnation or regression ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6616, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6616
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/09/23/000158349_20130923083314/Rendered/PDF/WPS6616.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lakshmi Iyer & Anandi Mani & Prachi Mishra & Petia Topalova, 2012. "The Power of Political Voice: Women's Political Representation and Crime in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 165-193, October.
    2. Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Hasan, Tazeen & Rusu, Anca Bogdana, 2013. "Women's legal rights over 50 years : what is the impact of reform ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6617, The World Bank.
    3. Cheryl Doss, 2006. "The Effects of Intrahousehold Property Ownership on Expenditure Patterns in Ghana," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(1), pages 149-180, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender and Law; Population Policies; Access to Finance; Legal Products; Gender and Development;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6616. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/dvewbus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.