Why an Award for Initiatives to Promote Gender Equality?
Gender equality matters intrinsically as a basic human right, and is also instrumental for human development. Gender equality is “smart economics,” and can contribute to key development goals, such as the reduction of extreme poverty and inequality. Gender equality ensures equal access to goods, services and resources for both men and women; and their equal enjoyment of opportunities and rewards.
The World Development Report on Gender and Development (2012) outlined three main pillars of gender equality – economic opportunity, endowments and agency. These three components, working together, improve gender equality outcomes. Agency, understood as an individual’s ability to make effective choices and transform those choices into desired outcomes, plays a catalytic role in the other pillars of gender equality. Without agency, individuals are unable to take full advantage of economic opportunities or endowments to realize their life plans (WDR 2012). In Latin America, significant advancements have been made in the areas of endowments (access to health and education) and economic opportunities, but persistent challenges remain in the realm of agency. Manifestations of women’s lack of agency in Latin America and the Caribbean include: persistent adolescent pregnancy rates, high levels of sexual and gender-based violence, and barriers to women’s active participation in decision-making.
The Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE) is a World Bank trust fund that aims to strengthen awareness, knowledge and capacity for gender-informed policy making. It achieves this goal through supporting World Bank initiatives that fill key knowledge gaps on gender equality and are catalytic for innovation and investment to address persistent gaps in gender equality.
In the LAC region, UFGE aims to advance knowledge and evidence on agency. Specifically, UFGE aims to understand how agency-enhancing interventions can improve development outcomes in order to provide policy makers and development practitioners concrete recommendations. LAC UFGE focuses on operationalizing agency: bridging the gap between analytical work and operations to ensure that expanded knowledge on agency is used to improve policy design and operations.
To contribute to UFGE goals to identify, strengthen and expand key gender actions that improve gender equality in LAC, the World Bank will launch a regional contest INITIATIVES TO PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY. The contest will aim to identify and showcase initiatives that have utilized key gender actions to improve outcomes in areas of adolescent pregnancy, gender-based violence and female participation in decision-making.