Via the excellent Lauren Beukes on Twitter I discovered this presentation, produced for The Economist, which looks at the economic opportunities for women in 113 countries around the world. By far the most startling thing about it is the discovery that, although most Western countries have laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender, many of them do little or nothing to enforce those laws, with the result that women in those countries are no better off.
This is a point I have been banging on about for some time with regard to other human rights legislation. Having laws is all well and good, in that it sets an example regarding how people are supposed to behave. But it is often all too easy to ignore such laws. In particular HR departments are often adept at finding ways to remove people from employment, or refusing to hire them, without triggering a discrimination case. And I say this as someone who has lost two very well paid jobs in such ways.
Laws cannot change how people think, they can only encourage them to think differently. As long as a minority group is commonly viewed as inferior or dangerous in some way, discrimination against that group will continue, and has to be fought.