A new report by the World Bank and IFC has found economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the most extensive lists of jobs women cannot legally do.
With 456 jobs women cannot do, the Russian Federation has to be the worst place on earth to be looking for work if you’re a female.
Women in Russia cannot be sailors; truck drivers in agriculture; woodworkers; or install antennas in high places.
Similarly, in Kazakhstan the so called fairer sex are prohibited from working in 299 separate occupations including snowmobile driver, lumberjack, railway fitter, and metal welder.
In Belarus where the number of restricted jobs is 252, women cannot work as divers, porters, firefighters or be on the front line of any emergency response.
While these restrictions may have arisen from a desire to protect women from the physical dangers involved, better safety standards and technology make many of these restrictions unnecessary in the 21st Century. Furthermore, any occupational health and safety protections for women, should also be extended to men. If a job is too dangerous for women, then men shouldn’t be doing it either.
But it’s not just women’s physical safety the labor codes are trying to protect. The report, Women, Business and the Law 2014: Removing Restrictions to Enhance Gender Equality also said:
“Some economies prohibit women from working in jobs legally deemed harmful to their moral character. Though this is an explicit restriction in labor codes, jobs that are ‘morally harmful’ to women are often not defined objectively but left to employers to determine. Working at night can fall into this category if employers feel working at night is morally harmful to women.”
Of all the economies covered by Women, Business and the Law, 79 restrict women from doing all the same jobs as men. Many of the jobs prohibited for women are in highly paid industries such as mining and manufacturing, confining women to lower-paid sectors of the workforce.
Out of the 143 economies surveyed for the report, at least 90 percent had one or more laws that hinder women’s ability to work or start a business. In some economies in the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, husbands can legally prevent or stop their wives from working all together.
The report, Women, Business and the Law 2014: Removing Restrictions to Enhance Gender Equality, is published by Bloomsbury Publishing.