Senior women lawyers across Asia share personal stories of successes, struggles and strategies for a more inclusive legal profession. Daisy Cooper reports

A recent study commissioned by the World Bank titled “Women, Business and the Law 2020” highlighted that in the past 10 years the majority of the world has moved closer to gender equality under the law. The bad news? A key finding of the report said that on average, women have just three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men. Further, in the past two years, no economy in East Asia and the Pacific or Central Asia featured as a top reformer in the report.

The World Bank study analyzes 190 economies and calculates results on a scale of 0 to 100, creating the Women, Business and the Law (WBL) Index. The WBL Index rating for each country and the areas where the country fell short in most will be displayed with each profile in this article.

Importantly, the WBL study measures only formal laws and regulations governing women’s ability to work or own businesses. A country’s norms and practices aren’t captured by the indicators, and each has its own unique and complicated mix of factors that affect opportunities for women in the legal profession.

There are many unfortunate commonalities and universals still hindering the progression of women lawyers in Asia, and around the world. Some key ones are summarized by Priti Suri, founder and managing partner of India’s PSA: “Despite a lot of progress in the law firm world, women are still at a disadvantage with regard to elevation to equity partner, recognition of their role in business development activities, and equality in pay.”

The business community in Asia is still predominately male-driven, and discrimination – including belittling, ignoring, discouraging, and not giving women the same assignments or opportunities as their male counterparts – is common.

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