10 Jobs Women Still Aren't Allowed to Have Across the World

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construction worker

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AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
April 20, 2024 at 11:56PM UTC
Half the world’s population is women, which means that women have an equal role in driving economic growth and, unless both women and men participate fully, no economy can grow to its full potential.
Women, Business and the Law 2018 explores the effect that the lack of women in certain jobs and industries has. It's the fifth edition in a series of biennial reports measuring the legal obstacles to women who engage in economic activity around the world. The analysis draws on new data across seven indicators: accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit and protecting women from violence, and the study expands coverage to 189 economies around the world to show the challenges many women face in the quest for economic opportunity.
Over the last 30 years, the women’s labor force participation has fallen from 52 to 49 percent globally, compared to 75 percent for men. Plus, women are half as likely as men to have full-time jobs, and those who do can earn up to one-third less than their male counterparts. The fact is that 104 economies still prevent women from working in certain jobs for no reason beyond that they are women. In 59 economies, there are no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
"Social media movements... have highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace — but, in many places, women still have no legal recourse," the report reads.
Here are 10 of the jobs from which women around the world are still barred.

1. Polishing Glass

In Argentina, women are not legally allowed to polish glass.

2. Driving Buses

Belarusian women cannot drive buses with more than 14 passengers.

3. Using Tools

Guinea prevents women from working with certain types of hammers.

4. Playing Golf Professionally

Many golf clubs around the UK are exclusively for men, including Scotland's Muirfield, which hosted this summer's Open Championship. Women are able to play as guests or visitors, but they cannot join as club members, which prevents many of them from pursuing the sport professionally.

5. Mining

In China, women cannot mine. In fact, the China Mining and Technology University has a male-only entrance policy, as mining is considered "unsuitable for women," according to labor laws.

6. Driving Trucks

In Russia, women are banned from being truckkers. In fact, they're legally restricted from 456 jobs, including anything else that poses any threat or danger (read: captaining ships, woodworking, anything mechanical). The government passed a law in 2000 to protect women’s health, but it instead just restricts women from 38 economic sectors. 

7. Wheelbarrowing (in Construction and the Like)

In France, it's illegal for women to perform labor activities that involve carrying loads heavier than 55 pounds, and women also cannot transport cargo weighing more than 99 pounds via wheelbarrow. 

8. Distributing Published Materials

In Madagascar, women aren't allowed to distribute literature, posters or other published materials due to moral code. Doing so is punishable under criminal law as it's considered "contrary to morality."

9. Fixing Machinery

In Pakistan, only men are allowed to lubricate cotton equipment. The law says that women cannot actually fix moving parts of a machine in a cotton-opener factory.
"Working in the same room as a cotton-opener in a factory; working inside any factory to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of machinery while that part is in motion, or working between moving parts or between fixed and moving parts of any machinery," is not allowed, the law states. 

10. Handling Most Sticky, Smelly, Toxic Things

In the United Arab Emirates, women are not allowed to perform any work that involves handling things like animal droppings, blood, fertilizer, toxic chemicals, etc. That means that they can't work in tanneries, pour asphalt or clean or manage facilities that include this type of work.
In 90 percent of countries, women continue to face gender discrimination. And, even though women are making headway in workplaces around the world, many of the barriers they face are still written into the law.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.

What is your experience and reaction to these prohibitions on women's work? Share your perspectives and ideas for how to create positive change.

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