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Mrs. Katharine M Christopherson Puh, Audrey Yiadom, Juliet Johnson, Francisca Fernando, Hanan Yazid, and Clara Thiemann
It is well established that a wide range of legal impediments in countries’ domestic laws have prevented women from achieving full economic empowerment, which in turn has negative macroeconomic implications. In many countries, laws often reflect and perpetuate gender norms that limit women’s economic participation, and removal of these impediments through legal reform has been shown to be an effective method to catalyze greater participation of women in the economy—along with the related macroeconomic benefits. Once legal barriers are removed and provisions for more equal treatment under the law are embedded, the law can also be employed as a powerful tool to incentivize women to pursue equal opportunities, change mindsets regarding the role of women, and hold institutions and individuals accountable for achieving results. Accordingly, it is imperative for countries to focus on eliminating existing legal impediments and designing appropriate incentives to increase women’s participation in the economy. This paper goes beyond previous Fund work by categorizing the key sources of laws that impede women’s economic empowerment, as well as ways in which the law can be used as a tool to create behavioral changes and shifts in perceptions of women in the economy. Case studies of six countries (Iceland, Peru, Rwanda, The Philippines, Tunisia, and the United States) that rank high in gender equality in their respective regions demonstrate how legal reforms have been implemented in differing contexts to help achieve women’s economic empowerment. Given the relevance to the Fund’s mandate, the paper also notes the case for a stepped-up role for the IMF in advising on legal reforms that remove barriers to, and incentivize, women’s economic empowerment. Although this paper highlights dominant belief systems and cultural norms that have contributed to limiting the economic empowerment of women, it does not intend to render any judgment on these systems or norms.
Mrs. Katharine M Christopherson Puh, Audrey Yiadom, Juliet Johnson, Francisca Fernando, Hanan Yazid, and Clara Thiemann

—SELECTED CASE STUDIES A. Iceland B. Peru C. The Philippines D. Rwanda E. Tunisia F. The United States IV. ASSISTING IMF MEMBERS IN TACKLING LEGAL IMPEDIMENTS TO WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT A. Surveillance B. Financial Assistance to Members C. Capacity Development V. CONCLUSIONS REFERENCES BOXES 1. Gender Sensitive Tax Reforms 2. Iceland’s Equal Pay Standard 3. Gender Budgeting Laws ANNEXES I. Key Lessons from Selected Country Case Studies—Legal Reform Aimed to Improve Women’s Economic Empowerment II. Detailed Country Case Studies

Mrs. Katharine M Christopherson Puh, Audrey Yiadom, Juliet Johnson, Francisca Fernando, Hanan Yazid, and Clara Thiemann

that promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (see Box 3 for elements of budget laws). The IMF has provided technical advice on gender budgeting in over 60 countries, including Albania, Austria, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Niger, and Ukraine. 112 For more information on how gender budgeting laws can improve gender equality, see Box 3 below. Box 3. Gender Budgeting Laws Several countries have included gender budgeting as a formal and substantive part of the legal framework for their budgetary processes and good public financial management