Restrictions and changes in working conditions are associated primarily with the industrial revolution. It was then, in the eighteenth century and later, that the first laws began to appear, which were to ensure labor protection and protect workers from the arbitrariness of employers. In the nineteenth century, laws were passed in different countries, which were to, for example, provide workers with a clear working day and limit child labor.
Around the same time, the first bans on women appeared, such as working at night, as women were thought to be weaker and required additional protection from physical activity. Many restrictions continued in the twentieth century, for example, in 1948 the International Labor Organization continued to prohibit women from working in mines and at night. Even at the end of the century, women could not access certain places – Spain, for example, only in 1995 allowed women to work in mines and in some types of construction work that had previously remained inaccessible to them.
Today, certain work bans for women are in force in 104 countries around the world. And despite the general trend towards democratization, new restrictions are still emerging – for example, in 2013 in Vietnam, women were banned from driving tractors with a capacity of 50 horsepower and above. Other restrictions have recently been imposed on women workers in agriculture, construction, energy, transport, and water-related industries.
Why prohibitions apply
The ban on certain professions for women is motivated by a variety of reasons – but they all fit into the idea of ”caring” for women who supposedly need a lot of support. One of the most common ideas cited by Russian law, among others, is the threat to reproductive health. Often women try to protect themselves from too heavy, according to legislators, activities – hence the numerous bans on working in mines and construction. Women’s safety is often talked about, which is why many countries forbid them to work at night (instead of, for example, making the streets safer). Such restrictions apply, for example, in Nigeria (where women cannot work night shifts at gas plants), Madagascar (where they are prohibited from generating electricity on a night shift) or Malaysia (where women are prohibited from transporting goods at night). In numerous nations, women are disallowed from “indecent” work. In eighteen nations around the globe, a man can lawfully restrict a lady from working – such guidelines apply, for instance, in Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, and the UAE.
The nonattendance of a conventional boycott doesn’t imply that it will be simple for a lady to find a new line of work. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, laws have gotten more merciful lately – yet managers may require a male watchman’s work license for a woman. In addition, the country’s legislation prohibits women from engaging in activities that could harm their health – in practice, this means that women are simply not allowed to engage in any physical labor.
Are the bans valid?
Even the strictest prohibition does not mean that it will be observed in practice. Restrictions on work mean that the labor market is getting smaller. Due to the shortage of staff, women are often hired, albeit illegally – for example, with miners in Colombia and the Philippines with call center staff – the country needed more people who could work in European and American time. This is also happening in Slavic countries – women, for example, often put out fires, simply forced to do so as volunteers, without having the social bonuses relied on by official workers.
Fortunately, the situation is changing – in many countries, laws, on the contrary, are becoming more liberal. According to the World Bank, several countries have eased legal restrictions in recent years. For example, night work has been lifted in several countries, including in Bahrain, Moldova, and Tajikistan. Colombia and the Czech Republic allowed women to work as miners, Slovenia as builders; Mongolia gave them access to the construction and energy industries and allowed them to work as miners in cargo transportation and water production.