The Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia is an upper middle-income country that has made great strides in reforming its economy over the last decade. More efforts are still needed to generate economic growth and improve living standards for all.
Read More »
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23—Land ownership has a number of crucial benefits for women and their families, both economic and social. Increased security allows women to access credit to buy key agricultural in... Show More +puts, or make other investments to increase food production. Access to land can also lift a woman's status and enhance her bargaining power in families and communities, boosting well-being at the household level. Some research even shows that women who own land are less likely to suffer from domestic violence.Although women’s land rights are enshrined in national law and a growing number of international agreements, women's land ownership often involves a complex web of statutory, customary, and religious laws—along with social norms that prioritize men and boys.Thirty-seven of 143 countries surveyed in the World Bank Group's Women, Business, and the Law 2014, still have discriminatory land laws in place, while even in countries with gender-equal laws on the books, powerful norms and customs can dictate that men alone hold title to land and other assets.Data analyzed by the World Bank (WB) and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), under a new initiative funded by the World Bank Group’s Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE) and the FAO, suggests that men in many regions fail to register their wives on property deeds. This means widows can lose rights to the land they farm after a husband dies, and sons often take priority in inheriting the land.In the Western Balkans, country reform teams established by this initiative cited lack of awareness and interest among key stakeholders—such as government officials, notaries, and land agency staff—as major obstacles to reform. Lack of data broken down by gender poses an additional challenge. A 2013 initiative offered technical assistance to mine existing databases to measure women’s land ownership in the region and establish benchmarks. The initiative gathered existing relevant data from Albania, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia—at the national, provincial, and local levels.Data was analyzed by studying property titles. “When we presented the data, the government was surprised to find that female property ownership can be as low as 3 percent in the region, particularly in rural areas,” World Bank Senior Land Administration Specialist Kathrine Kelm said. This helped galvanize follow-up work with government partners to improve women’s property rights.WB and FAO teams worked with national partners to devise 11-month pilot work plans for their countries to boost female land ownership—alongside senior officials, land agency staff, and notaries.In Kosovo, with national levels of female ownership at around 15 percent, efforts have targeted associations of notaries, to request that they always inform clients who register land and property about the importance of co-registering wives or female heirs.In one town, Shtime, registering property in one name cost 20 Euros, while registering property jointly cost 40 Euros. In early 2014, the mayor temporarily waived the registration fee as an incentive for couples to register jointly, prompting a 20 percent jump in property registrations for women. The town now has a flat registration fee.The Kosovo team hopes to continue its work on the gender action plan, and deploy mobile gender units during their next round of property registration, and use a randomized control trial to demonstrate the cost benefits of such teams.In FYR Macedonia, where female land ownership was found to hover around 16 percent, one community, Aerodrom, launched outreach efforts highlighting the positive impact of property ownership and connecting residents with notaries.Ongoing negotiations on targets to succeed the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals after 2015 have identified as a priority the need for women and girls to have equal access to financial services, as well as equal rights to own land and other assets. Most people living in extreme poverty worldwide are female.About the UFGEThe UFGE is a multi-donor trust fund dedicated to strengthening awareness, knowledge, and capacity for policy-making that advance gender equality.It invests in priority areas critical to closing gaps between what we know and what we do to advance gender equality. The UFGE currently supports over 70 activities in 54 countries.Since its launch in 2012, the UFGE has received contributions from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Show Less -
If the Ebola epidemic devastating the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had instead struck Washington, New York or Boston, there is no doubt that the health systems in place could contain ... Show More +and then eliminate the disease.Hospitals would isolate suspected cases. Health workers would be outfitted with proper protective clothing and equipment. Doctors and nurses would administer effective supportive care, including comprehensive management of dehydration, impaired kidney and liver function, bleeding disorders and electrolyte disturbance. Labs would dispose of hazardous materials properly. And a public health command center would both direct the response and communicate clearly to the public about the outbreak.Ebola is spread by direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids, making it less transmissible than an airborne disease such as tuberculosis. A functioning health system can stop Ebola transmission and, we believe, save the lives of a majority of those who are afflicted.So why isn’t this happening in West Africa, where more than 1,500 people have already died?As international groups pull staff from the three countries, airlines suspend commercial flights and neighboring countries close their borders, some have argued that it will be next to impossible to contain the outbreak — that public health systems are too weak, the cost of providing effective care too high and health workers too scarce.But Ebola has been stopped in every other outbreak to date, and it can be stopped in West Africa, too. The crisis we are watching unfold derives less from the virus itself and more from deadly and misinformed biases that have led to a disastrously inadequate response to the outbreak.These biases, tragically, live on, despite evidence that disproves them again and again.Just 15 years ago, Western experts said confidently that there was little that rich countries could do to stop the global AIDS crisis, which was killing millions of people in Africa and elsewhere.Today, thanks to leadership and advocacy from President George W. Bush, a bipartisan coalition of members in Congress, courageous faith-based organizations and U.S. government researchers such as Tony Fauci and Mark Dybul, more than 10 million Africans are getting life-saving treatment.The take-no-action argument has been used over the years as an excuse not to mount an effort to control drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and many other diseases that afflict primarily the poor.But the reality is this: The Ebola crisis today is a reflection of long-standing and growing inequalities of access to basic health care. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone do not have the staff, stuff and systems required to halt the outbreak on their own. According to its ministry of health, before the outbreak Liberia had just 50 doctors working in public health facilities serving a population of 4.3 million.To halt this epidemic, we need an emergency response that is equal to the challenge. We need international organizations and wealthy countries that possess the required resources and knowledge to step forward and partner with West African governments to mount a serious, coordinated response as laid out in the World Health Organization’s Ebola response roadmap.Many are dying needlessly. Historically, in the absence of effective care, common acute infections have been characterized by high mortality rates. What’s happening with Ebola in Africa has been no different.A 1967 outbreak in Germany and Yugoslavia of Marburg hemorrhagic fever — a disease similar to Ebola — had a 23 percent fatality rate. Compare that with an 86 percent rate for cases across sub-Saharan Africa in the years since. The difference is that Germany and Yugoslavia had functioning health systems and the resources to treat patients effectively. The West African countries coping with Ebola today have neither.With a strong public health response led by the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the United States, Britain, France and other wealthy nations, the virus could be contained and the fatality rate — which, based on the most conservative estimates, exceeds 50 percent in the present outbreak — would drop dramatically, perhaps to below 20 percent.We are at a dangerous moment in these three West African countries, all fragile states that have had strong economic growth in recent years after decades of wars and poor governance. It would be scandalous to let this crisis escalate further when we have the knowledge, tools and resources to stop it. Tens of thousands of lives, the future of the region and hard-won economic and health gains for millions hang in the balance.Originally published in the Washington Post Show Less -