Eliminating legal restrictions on women’s economic and work opportunities could secure Egypt a 34-percent increase in its gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund has revealed in its newly published study on legal restrictions to female labor force participation.
“Despite some progress over the past few years, gender-based legal restrictions remain significant. Almost 90 percent of countries have at least one important restriction in the books, and some have many,” said the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde.
“These range from the requirement for women to seek their husband’s permission to work, to laws that restrict women’s participation in specific professions. Others constrain the ability of women to own property, inherit or obtain a loan,” Lagarde said in an article on the IMF’s website on Monday.
The IMF study links legal restrictions and female labor market participation, noting that 50 percent of the countries covered by the study, female labor participation rates increased by at least 5 percentage points over five years, since gender-equitable laws were introduced.
The study cited an 2014 index map by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, which classified gender discrimination in Egypt as “very high”.
It also suggests that ensuring increased women economic participation can lead to GDP rates higher by 34 percent in Egypt, stressing that boosting women’s contribution to economy does not come at the expense of men’s participation.
“Our study also finds that the introduction of more equity in property rights or in the pursuit of a job or a profession does not have to come at the expense of male employment,” Lagarde wrote.
Female uneployment stood at 24.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to data from Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS).
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm