When and why do nation states pass labour market non-discrimination legislation for women? Using world society and social movement theory, this paper examines the effect of international and domestic influences on domestic legislation via an event history analysis from 1958 to 2005. Special attention is paid to the conventions and declarations of the United Nation`s (UN) agency for work, the International Labour Organization (ILO). World society mechanisms significantly influence ratification behavior, which in turn is a strong predictor of subsequent discrimination-targeted legislative reform. An active domestic mobilization base and a permeable political opportunity structure provide further catalytic effects for passing national statutes improving the rights of women in the labor market. In developing these arguments, the research links macro-sociological world society theory with micro-level social movement theory and argues that legislative improvements for women are pushed forward in a field affirming the rights of individuals.
To account for endogenous effects between ratification and legislation, this paper also examines whether countries with non-discrimination legislation are more likely to ratify the corresponding ILO nondiscrimination convention. The findings show significant cross-coupling between non-discrimination legislation and ratifying the ILO´s non-discrimination convention. World society effects are stronger on ratification than legislation, suggesting that world societal leverage is more pronounced on externally rather than on internally oriented outcomes.