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Over 200 Million Women Worldwide Lack Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections

A study by UCLA’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center found that nearly 235 million women around the world have no access to sexual harassment protection at work, as well as nearly 82 million living in countries with no laws against gender-based discrimination. (Image credit: MOTOKI TEJIMA/Flickr)

A study by UCLA’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center found that nearly 235 million women around the world have no access to sexual harassment protection at work, as well as nearly 82 million living in countries with no laws against gender-based discrimination.

To understand whether countries are doing enough to prevent sexual harassment and gender discrimination at work, WORLD performed a comprehensive analysis of national laws and policies related to sexual harassment and employment discrimination in all 193 countries that are members of the United Nations.

A few major takeaways:

  • Sixty-eight countries do not have any workplace-specific prohibitions of sexual harassment.
  • Twenty-five countries do not extend any explicit protection from discrimination in workplace compensation.
  • There are 126 countries that protect women from discrimination in promotions and/or demotions based on both gender and race/ethnicity.

Dr. Jody Heymann, founding director of the WORLD Policy Analysis Center and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health notes:

“While progress has been made, hundreds of millions of women face discrimination with no recourse, and women in underrepresented groups have the least protections. There are 152 countries that have prohibited discrimination in promotions and/or demotions based on gender, but only 126 countries guarantee protections from discrimination based on both gender and race/ethnicity.”

Dr. Heymann also noted that countries with laws against discrimination and harassment in place need to stay dedicated to their enforcement and mindful that legislation alone is not the answer.

“At the same time, recent events in the U.S. serve as an important reminder that even with laws in place, we will only make enough progress when all people and all institutions contribute to changing norms and practices.”

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