More Than 235 Million Working Women Worldwide Have No Legal Protection Against Sexual Harassment

A report from the World Policy Analysis Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, examines the laws against gender discrimination in all 193 members states of the United Nations.

The analysis found that more than one third of the world’s countries do not have any laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work. As a result, there are more than 235 million working women worldwide who do not have any legal protection against sexual harassment on the job. There are 25 nations that do not have any prohibitions about gender discrimination in compensation.

Jody Heymann, founding director of the WORLD Policy Analysis Center and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, states that “gender discrimination in the workplace adversely affects employees and their families, and impedes the economic success of companies and countries. While progress has been made, hundreds of millions of women face discrimination with no recourse, and women in underrepresented groups have the least protections.”

Dr. Heymann also notes that having laws against sexual harassment and discrimination on the books does not mean that women will not be subjected to such practices. “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,” Dr. Heymann said.

Dean Heymann holds a master’s degree, a medical degree, and a Ph.D., all from Harvard University. She is an author or editor of 17 books including Making Equal Rights Real: Taking Effective Action to Overcome Global Challenges (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

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