Women can and do play a vital role in driving the robust, shared growth needed to end extreme poverty and build resilient societies, but in many parts of the world, their potential, participation, and productive capacity are undervalued and untapped.

While they are living longer, healthier lives on average than even a decade ago, too many women and girls still lack basic rights, freedoms, and opportunities, and they face huge inequalities in the world of work. They typically have far fewer assets, farm smaller plots, work in less profitable sectors, and face discriminatory laws and norms that constrain their time and choices. Women and girls overwhelmingly perform the unpaid work of caregiving, for which they are often penalized with poverty in old age. They also typically suffer first and worst during times of crisis, conflict, disaster, or financial shock. In the private sector, women offer a powerful source of economic growth and opportunity but often lack access to needed assets, credit, and knowledge. They face formal and informal obstacles that add up not only to their detriment but also to a costly missed opportunity for businesses and economies.

The evidence is clear: The discrimination and deprivations that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential have enormous consequences not only for them, but for their families and communities as well. The World Bank Group takes as its starting point that no country, community, or economy can achieve its potential or meet the global challenges of the 21st century without the full and equal participation of women and men, boys and girls, everywhere. Investing in women and girls and getting them to equal is vital to achieving our twin corporate goals of tackling poverty and boosting prosperity that benefits all.

Leadership, innovation, and scaled-up efforts are needed, and this agenda is urgent. The World Bank Group is committed to improving data collection in key areas, such as women's earnings, property ownership, and political voice. Our focus areas include advancing equality under the law and at work, supporting women’s economic empowerment, and tackling gender-based violence.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2014

The World Bank Group works with partners and clients to advance gender equality globally, highlighting inequality and discrimination where we find them and leveraging our lending, expertise, and convening power to level the playing field. We have made robust corporate commitments—most importantly during the 16th and 17th replenishments of IDA, our fund for the poorest countries, and through our Corporate Scorecard. These commitments are consistent with findings of the 2012 World Development Report on gender equality and development and subsequent strategic recommendations to operationalize them.

We are committed to incorporating considerations of gender equality in the analysis, content, and monitoring of all programs and Country Assistance Strategies; all regions are implementing gender equality action plans. We are also committed to developing a renewed gender strategy for the World Bank Group over the coming year—with more ambitious targets, new ways of measuring progress, and an agenda for pushing ahead in new frontiers with the potential for transformational impact.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, provides investment and advisory services to promote business opportunities for women in the private sector, which accounts for an overwhelming majority of jobs in developing and emerging economies. IFC aims to increase women's access to finance and markets, help clients improve work opportunities and conditions for female employees, support training for women entrepreneurs, and improve corporate governance—including the appointment of women to clients’ boards.



Last Updated: Oct 06, 2014

The World Bank Group’s key corporate targets are on track, while our new goals heighten attention to gender and put greater emphasis on impact and results. The majority of our operations and strategies now take gender equality into account in analysis, content, and monitoring and evaluation of our work.

Some examples:

  • We have helped women in Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Vietnam better understand their rights and secure titles to their land, helping them to get more out of their most important asset. In Vietnam, about 700,000 land titles were issued to women from 2008-2012, including in ethnic minority areas: 88 percent agreed that joint titles improved the position of women and had positive impacts on access to credit.
  • With IDA support, close to 1 million women and girls in the Kyrgyz Republic have directly benefited from community-based micro-enterprises.
  • In Nepal, our $129 million commitment to support government health programs helped increase the share of births attended by skilled staff rose from 8.5 to 44 percent among the poorest women.
  • In Afghanistan, 16,300 women joined savings groups with access to loans between 2010 and 2013—and 2.7 million girls were enrolled in schools in 2012, up from 191,000 in 2002, with support through IDA.
  • In Liberia, through our Adolescent Girls Initiative, more than 2,400 young women transitioning from school to work received six months training—70 percent in business development skills and 30 percent in job skills. They reported a 47 percent increase in employment and 80 percent increase in average weekly income as a result.
  • In Ghana, our 2007 eGhana Project, aimed at generating jobs and growth through information and communications technology delivered more than 8,700 new jobs—54 percent held by women. The program benefited more than 10, 440 women in total.
  • Our 2005-2012 Nepal Second Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, aimed at improving water supply and sanitation for rural households. Improved access to water freed up enough time for 45,000 women to complete non-formal classes and another 1,700 to take on work as local health promoters.
  • IFC’s Banking on Women strategy focuses on regions and countries with good conditions for SMEs and large numbers of female entrepreneurs. Since its launch three years ago, IFC has made investments in more than 17 countries and has a total portfolio of $735 million ($345 million on its own account and $390 million from mobilization) for on-lending to women-owned SMEs in Eastern Europe, East and South Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
  • In June 2014, IFC approved a loan to Garanti Bank of Romania that included €20 million for on-lending to companies owned or managed by women. A similar loan in 2012 promoted the success of two women fashion entrepreneurs there.
  • Nalt Enterprise of Vietnam, a garment and textile supplier and a member of WINvest—the World Bank Group’s global partnership with the private sector on women’s employment—employs nearly 650 workers; 85 percent are women. In an industry with high turnover and a country with many labor strikes, Nalt decided the best way to retain employees and boost competitiveness was to improve working conditions. The company joined the IFC-ILO Better Work Program, built a tuition-free kindergarten next to its factory for workers’ children, and set up an onsite health clinic for workers and their families. Nalt is now reaping the rewards: Turnover has fallen by one third, employees are healthier and less likely to miss work, and no strikes have occurred in the last eight years.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2014


World Bank Group Gender Equality Highlights

Progress in World Bank Group corporate commitments, priority areas, private sector engagement via the IFC, and with stakeholders.

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