Legal and social barriers to women’s freedom of movement
Women, Business and the Law finds that laws can limit women’s ability to move freely. Married women cannot travel outside the home in the same way as married men in 17 economies, including Afghanistan, Oman and Sudan. In six economies, wives cannot travel outside the country in the same way as their husbands. Further, married women in 32 economies cannot apply for a passport in the same way as their husbands, often encountering additional steps or obstacles in the application process.
In addition to restrictions on women’s ability to travel outside the home or outside the country, some countries place restrictions on women’s ability to confer citizenship to their children. This may impact women’s mobility by preventing women from seeking economic opportunities outside the countries where their children have citizenship. Women, Business and the Law finds that 22 of the economies examined do not allow married mothers to pass citizenship to their children as fathers can, and 44 do not allow married women to pass citizenship to their spouses as married men can. Senegal and Suriname recently amended their laws to allow married women to pass on nationality to their children and non-national spouses in the same way as men can. Niger recently reformed its laws to allow women to pass on citizenship to non-national spouses.
- How can legal restrictions on freedom of movement limit a woman’s economic empowerment?
- What successful strategies and reforms have been put in place that have enabled increased mobility for married and unmarried women?
- Beyond specific legal barriers, what role do social norms and culture play in influencing a woman’s mobility? (e.g. women who must be accompanied by a male relative to travel outside of the home; women who lack or are denied access to transportation, ability to drive, etc.)
- How might a woman’s lack of mobility impact her leadership and economic potential?
- For women who are constrained by mobility, what regulatory and other strategies exist at the national and local levels to enhance and support women’s access to economic and leadership opportunities?