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.
Read More »
Making Women Count Good morning everyone. Madam Secretary, Jim Clifton, Ladies and Gentlemen.It’s a great pleasure to be here today to address one of the key challenges of the 21st century: achie... Show More +ving gender equality. I share a deeply-held conviction that gender equality counts for societies and economies to make progress. It counts because it’s the right and fair thing to do. Simply put, a person’s opportunities should not be determined by whether they are born male or female.It also counts because gender equality is vital for growth and competitiveness of countries. When countries value girls and women as much as boys and men; when they invest in their health, education, and skills training; when they give women greater opportunities to participate in the economy, manage incomes, own and run businesses – the benefits extend far beyond individual girls and women to their children and families, to their communities, to societies and economies at large. Just look at some of the numbers:Women make up 40 percent of the global work force, and 43 percent of the agricultural workforce. Across the developing world, there are 8 to 10 million formal small and medium-sized women-owned businesses – and those numbers are growing. Today, women are more than half the world’s university students. In a third of developing countries there are now more girls in school than boys. Evidence shows that when women have greater control over household funds or agricultural resources, it can have significant payoffs. In Brazil, for example, when family income goes into the hands of the mother rather than the father, I know this from personal experience, a child’s chance of survival is 20 times greater. In Ghana, ensuring that women farmers have the same access as men to fertilizer and other agricultural inputs would increase maize yields by 17 percent. So this isn’t just about giving women more resources. It’s about giving women their fair share. It’s about giving half the population the opportunity to lead better, and more productive lives – and, at the same time, raise productivity and prosperity, break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for everyone. At a time when the world is looking for additional sources of growth, there’s an untapped market out there that everyone should invest in more: women.At the Bank, we’re promoting gender equality through financing. This past fiscal year, over 80 percent of the Bank’s lending and grants – more than $28 billion – was allocated to gender-informed projects in areas such as education, health, land rights, access to credit, financial and agricultural services, jobs, and infrastructure. We’re also supporting gender equality through knowledge and analysis – we’re generating new ideas, testing new approaches, evaluating systematically what sorts of interventions really work. We made Gender Equality the subject of our 2012 World Development Report. The Report makes clear that one of the fundamental challenges for tackling all these issues is more and better data and evidence. Before we can solve a problem, we need to understand it. We need to be able to evaluate systematically what sorts of interventions work, which don’t, and why. But data and evidence are also important to make visible the lives of women and girls. Their experiences can teach us so much. But only if they are counted.For many developing countries, we don’t have the data to help us understand just how big these gender gaps are, or how to address them. It simply doesn’t exist. This is a particular problem when looking at women’s economic opportunity. Take agriculture – a hugely important sector for women, particularly in poor countries: If you want to compare how many women in different Sub-Saharan African countries use fertilizer to help grow their vegetables, in order to evaluate where best to target scarce development funds – sorry, there’s no information for that. Part of the challenge of collecting sufficient data is methodology: many surveys, including at the World Bank, address households – but not women’s opportunities specifically. In addition, many national statistical agencies in developing countries lack the resources and know-how to gather more data. And then there’s a greater challenge of strengthening country systems. As experienced in my own work on maternal health, even seemingly simple data, such as births and deaths, can sometimes be difficult to capture. Basic indicators like maternal mortality remain underreported because too many women in poor countries never come into contact with health facilities or official statistical systems.So how do we start to close the gender gap – the gender data gap? First, we need to work together. We’re partnering with the United States government, UN Women, and the OECD on the Evidence and Data for Gender Equality Initiative to push existing efforts for comparable gender indicators on education, employment, entrepreneurship, and assets.Second, we need to invest in gathering new data and evidence. For example, In April, the World Bank Group and Gallup presented findings from the Global Financial Inclusion Index – a new joint project with support from the Gates Foundation. It’s the first public database that consistently measures how men and women in 148 countries are engaging in financial activities – saving, borrowing, making payments, and managing risk. The World Bank Group has established Women, Business, and the Law – a global database which tracks and measures legal and regulatory constraints to women’s financial access. Third, we need to be open and transparent about what we know and what we don’t know. It’s the best way to determine the gaps in our knowledge and to fill them.Finally, if we are to make significant and lasting change, we need to direct the data back towards developing countries. By making country data accessible, we can help empower men and women in the real world to become agents of change. This is important, because it’s only with sufficient country demand for better gender equality that we will ultimately succeed.That’s why I’m excited to announce today that the World Bank is launching a new Gender Data Portal – part of our Open Data Initiative. Visitors to the Gender Data Portal will be able to access data from the World Development Indicators, national statistics agencies, and UN databases. You’ll find results from surveys, analytical work, and reference materials covering girls' and women's employment; access to productive activities; education; health; public life and decision making; also human rights; and demographic outcomes. The portal’s data visualization tool allows users to interact with the data. And we’ll keep it updated and respond to feedback.It’s an important step forward – bringing together the multiplicity of data sources on gender, and allowing anyone with an Internet connection to see how patterns are evolving across countries and regions over time. As part of the World Bank’s broader open data initiative, visitors will be able to access a whole range of data on Bank operations and financing, so they can access the latest figures on our own performance on gender mainstreaming – and hold us to account.When you visit our new site, you’ll also see that there are appalling gaps in country coverage and frequency. You won’t find data on gender wage gaps in developing countries because comparable data doesn’t exist across developing countries. You won’t find enough data measuring women’s voice and agency beyond women’s representation in national parliaments – there are bits and pieces, but the gaps are still huge.Today, let's commit to moving forward on making women count. One year from now, let’s commit to seeing progress in data availability in two areas – women’s economic opportunities, and women’s voice and agency – for at least 10 countries where that data is currently missing. We’ll need to make greater efforts and investments in building statistical capacity in those countries to collect the relevant data. We will need to focus on strengthening country systems, too. When we succeed in those 10 countries, we will expand those efforts to 10 more countries. And then ten more ever more quickly.I’m very excited to be working with the U.S. State Department and Gallup, who do such great work in this area and are so committed to closing the gender data gap. Together, we’re calling on more development partners to support countries in this effort.Before I hand the podium over, please let me pay tribute to the next speaker for her tireless efforts for gender equality across the world. Secretary Clinton staked her claim as an advocate for global women’s issues a long time ago. In 1995, as first lady, she gave a speech at a UN conference in Beijing that many of us still make reference to today. She said that "Women's rights are human rights." And that: "Every woman deserves the chance to realize her own God-given potential. But we must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected." These are powerful words that helped galvanize a global movement for women's rights. They are no less relevant today. On a personal note, I’d like to thank Secretary Clinton because I wouldn’t be here today without you. Thank you so much. Show Less -
Washington DC, February 8, 2012 – The World Bank and Fotopedia, the publisher of popular iOS apps and winner of the Best Tablet App of the Year Crunchies Award, today announced their collaboration on ... Show More +a new free app titled “Women of the World” for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. “Women of the World” takes users on an eye-opening tour and educational look into the lives of women all across the world. Through the app, users will encounter women from every corner of the globe and witness their fighting spirit in the face of human, political, and religious events. The app explores the stunning images of a bride at her wedding in Singapore, a woman whose daughter had just been saved from malaria, women minesweeping the fields of Cambodia, nuns in the convents in France, girl-soldiers in Mozambique, which are just a few of the hundreds of moving scenes composing this magnificent sociological study. The app showcases the work of professional photographer Olivier Martel, who traveled to more than 75 countries to assemble these images. “Women of the World” is updated weekly with Visual Stories to provide insight into the lives of women from cultures spanning the globe. Olivier Martel said: “These topics require a persistent but discrete approach, determination, and a lot of patience. This work is about giving women the opportunity to share their hopes or daily struggles, and give them their dignity in a photographic homage that takes the form of a search for beauty.” This collaboration also highlights the World Bank’s #thinkEQUAL campaign that aims to increase awareness of progress and obstacles in gender equality around the globe. Today, more girls go to school and more women receive maternal healthcare than ever, yet only 15 percent of landowners and only one in five lawmakers are women.. “We hope these images inspire people to act,” said Jeni Klugman, the World Bank’s Director of Gender and Development. “Much has improved, but in many parts of the world, women's rights and opportunities remain very constrained. This inequality is very unfair and it is bad economics. It hampers poverty reduction and limits development. The World Bank has major programs to support girls and women to become more educated, gain better access to health care, water, start businesses and access credit. These are becoming an increasingly important aspect of our work around the world.” About “Women of the World”Women of the World is packed with hundreds of professional, moving photos, social media sharing tools, powerful slideshows and wallpapers. Additional features of the app include:A collection of hundreds of photosVisual stories, updated every weekComplete navigation with smart tags, search and interactive mapsInstant SlideshowsFree Wallpapers for your iPhone, iPad or iPod TouchFavorites to create your own personalized photo albumsPhoto sharing via email, Facebook and TwitterThis app requires an Internet connection, WiFi recommended.Pricing & Availability“Women of the World” is available for free for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, in the App Store. About FotopediaWith more than 7 million downloads to date, Fotopedia is the publisher of the Fotopedia Magazine and a suite of iOS apps, including “Fotopedia Heritage”, one of Apple’s Hall of Fame best 50 apps of all times. Fotopedia is also the recent recipient of the 2011 Best Tablet App of the Year Crunchies Award. Fotopedia provides new ways to discover, explore and share the beauty of the world. The company was founded by Jean-Marie Hullot, who was previously CTO at NeXT and CTO of Apple’s Applications Division and a team of Apple veterans. Fotopedia has offices in San Francisco and Paris. About The World BankThe World Bank Group’s goal is to fight poverty. It provides loans and grants to developing countries. The World Bank is helping eliminate persistent gender barriers to accessing quality social services, entering the job market, and building resilience the to shocks and volatility. Our work includes expanding access to family planning and reproductive health services, promoting gender parity in education, providing social safety nets and insurance, and helping people acquire the resources and skills to secure decent jobs and provide for their families.Getting to equal is a smart investment. By closing gender gaps in human development, the Bank is helping developing countries reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), enhance productivity and growth, and promote the well-being of all their people. Show Less -
Despite impressive gains in gender equality, nearly 4 million poor women “missing” each year in developing countriesWASHINGTON, September 18, 2011 – Gender equality matters in its own right but is als... Show More +o smart economics: Countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity, improve outcomes for children, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for all, says a new World Bank flagship report.The World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development details big strides in narrowing gender gaps but shows that disparities remain in many areas. The worst disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men in developing countries: Globally, excess female mortality after birth and “missing” girls at birth account for an estimated 3.9 million women each year in low- and middle-income countries. About two-fifths are never born due to a preference for sons, a sixth die in early childhood, and over a third die in their reproductive years. These losses are growing in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in countries hard-hit by HIV/AIDS.“We need to achieve gender equality,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “Over the past five years, the World Bank Group has provided $65 billion to support girls’ education, women’s health, and women’s access to credit, land, agricultural services, jobs, and infrastructure. This has been important work, but it has not been enough or central enough to what we do. Going forward, the World Bank Group will mainstream our gender work and find other ways to move the agenda forward to capture the full potential of half the world’s population.”The report cites examples of how countries could gain by addressing disparities between men and women:Ensuring equal access and treatment for women farmers would increase maize yields by 11 to 16 percent in Malawi and by 17 percent in Ghana.Improving women’s access to agricultural inputs in Burkina Faso would increase total household agricultural production by about 6 percent, with no additional resources—simply by reallocating resources such as fertilizer and labor from men to women.The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that equal access to resources for female farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent.Eliminating barriers that prevent women from working in certain occupations or sectors would have similar positive effects, reducing the productivity gap between male and female workers by one-third to one-half and increasing output per worker by 3 to 25 percent across a range of countries.“Blocking women and girls from getting the skills and earnings to succeed in a globalized world is not only wrong, but also economically harmful,” said Justin Yifu Lin, World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President, Development Economics. “Sharing the fruits of growth and globalization equally between men and women is essential to meeting key development goals.”The report also notes that the world has made significant progress in narrowing gender gaps in education, health and labor markets over the past 25 years. Disparities between boys and girls in primary education have closed in almost all countries. In secondary education, these gaps are closing rapidly, and in many countries, especially in Latin America, the Caribbean and East Asia, it is now boys and young men who are disadvantaged. Among developing countries, girls now outnumber boys in secondary schools in 45 countries, and there are more young women than men in universities in 60 countries. Similar progress can be seen in life expectancy where women in low-income countries not only outlive men but live 20 years longer than they did in 1960. And in much of the world, gaps in labor force participation have narrowed with over half a billion women having joined the workforce in the last 30 years.Remaining gaps include the lower school enrollments of disadvantaged girls; unequal access for women to economic opportunities and incomes, whether in the labor market, agriculture or entrepreneurship; and large differences in voice between women and men both in households and societies.The report argues that these patterns of progress and persistence in closing gender gaps matters for development policies. Higher incomes help close some gaps, as in education. As schools expand and more jobs open up for young women, parents see clear benefits to educating their girls. But too often, markets and institutions (including social norms around house and care work) combine with household decisions to perpetuate disparities between men and women. As part of this, gender gaps in earnings remain stubbornly unchanged in much of the world.The WDR 2012 calls for action in four areas: 1) addressing human capital issues, such as excess deaths of girls and women and gender gaps in education where these persist; 2) closing earning and productivity gaps between women and men; 3) giving women greater voice within households and societies; and 4) limiting the perpetuation of gender inequality across generations.“Focused domestic public policies remain the key to bringing about gender equality,” said Ana Revenga, WDR Co-Director. “And to be effective, these policies will need to address the root causes of gender gaps. For some problems, as with high maternal mortality, this will require strengthening the institutions that deliver services. For other gaps, as with unequal access to economic opportunities, policies will need to tackle the multiple constraints –in markets and institutions- that keep women trapped in low productivity/low earning jobs.”To ensure that progress on gender equality is sustained, the international community needs to complement domestic policy actions in each of these priority areas. It can also support evidence-based action by fostering efforts to improve data, promote impact evaluation and encourage learning. The report recommends that policymakers focus on the most stubborn gender gaps that rising incomes alone cannot solve. It is by fixing those shortcomings that the payoffs to development are likely to be greatest, and where policies changes will make the most difference.“Development partners can support domestic policies in many ways -- more funding, greater innovation and better partnerships,” said Sudhir Shetty, WDR Co-Director, “Additional financing for clean water and sanitation and maternal services, for instance, will help the poorest countries. More experimentation, systematic evaluation and better gender-disaggregated data can point to ways of improving women’s access to markets. And, partnerships can fruitfully be expanded to include the private sector, civil society groups and academic institutions.” Show Less -
WASHINGTON, March 8, 2011 — World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick today issued the following statement on the centenary celebration of International Women’s Day: “In the hundred years sin... Show More +ce the world first marked International Women’s Day, we have seen tremendous strides in women’s health, education, financial and social empowerment, voting rights, and employment opportunities. But we can and must do more. For our part, the World Bank Group will continue investing in women’s access to jobs, land rights, financial services, agricultural inputs, and infrastructure. Our message to the world is that, “Gender Equality is Smart Economics” and we will further mainstream women’s empowerment into our work. The Bank’s 2012 World Development Report will focus on gender equality dimensions of development. We are also proud to have increased the role of women in the Bank’s Senior Managerial ranks. For the first time ever, two out of three Managing Directors are women, and four out of six of our Regional Vice Presidents are women. We urge public and private partners to join us in the work to open more doors of opportunity to girls and women for the benefit of all.” Show Less -
WASHINGTON, October 6, 2010—The World Bank wants to expand to Haiti and Yemen an international public-private initiative that helps adolescent girls and young women improve their lives and economic pr... Show More +ospects, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick announced today.“We have secured initial funding for an expansion of the Adolescent Girls Initiative and we are hoping that the first country to benefit will be Haiti,” said Zoellick. "Adolescent girls and young women living in poor homes have a hard time making the school-to-work transition. So investing in their skills development and job prospects will contribute to break the inter-generational patterns of poverty in their communities.”“Haiti has the youngest people in the Caribbean with about 70 percent of the population under 30 years old,” said Haiti’s Finance Minister Ronald Baudin. “Improving the lives of Haitian adolescent girls and young women is a good investment in the country’s future, especially after the devastation caused by the earthquake earlier in the year.”As part of the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI), already active in seven countries, the Gender Action Plan of the World Bank and the Nike Foundation have pledged $1 million each to help poor and disadvantaged Haitian young women (aged 15-24 years) make the school-to-work transition and improve their employment and earnings potential. The project, which has been submitted to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) for final approval, is expected to reach some 3,000 adolescent girls and provide grants and cash stipends so that they are able to take vocational and training courses, as well as skills development programs.In addition, Zoellick said that work is also about to begin in Yemen through an existing World Bank-funded cash transfer program. In that country, the AGI will evaluate transfers that aim to get adolescent girls to school, and help them complete their education.Previous experience with cash transfer programs to adolescent girls in Malawi has shown improvements in school enrollment, declines in teen marriage and pregnancy, and decreases in risky sexual activity and in the prevalence of HIV AIDS.Evidence also shows that investing in adolescent girls is one way to break inter-generational poverty. Young women that are more educated and have greater access to reproductive health are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth, have healthier babies and attain higher literacy rates. An extra year of secondary schooling, for instance, can raise their future wages by 10 to 20 percent.The announcement of the expansion of the AGI took place during the Adolescent Girls Initiative – Where We Are event, which underscored the innovations and achievements of development programs for adolescent girls living in developing countries. The event, held at the World Bank in the lead up to the institution’s Annual Meetings, also featured as speakers Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Managing Director; Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the U.S. President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls; Maria Eitel, President of the Nike Foundation; actress Anne Hathaway, Christy Turlington-Burns, from the RED campaign, musician and ex-child soldier from South Sudan Emmanuel Jal, and adolescent girls from developing countries.Some examples of the achievements of the AGI include the training in Liberia of more than 1,000 young women in business development or job skills from sectors with high demand, such as hospitality or office/computer jobs. In Jordan, the AGI is providing subsidies to firms to hire new graduates with no experience.About the Adolescent Girls InitiativeThe AGI was launched in 2008, as part of the World Bank Group’s Gender Action Plan -- Gender Equality as Smart Economics -- to promote the transition of adolescent girls from school to productive employment. With total funds of US$20 million so far, the AGI already includes Afghanistan, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liberia, Nepal, Rwanda, and South Sudan. The World Bank’s partners in the AGI are the Nike Foundation and the governments of Afghanistan, Australia, Denmark, Jordan, Lao PDR, Liberia, Nepal, Norway, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The Bank is also developing partnerships with other public and private sector organizations interested in joining the Initiative.About the World Bank Support to HaitiTo help Haiti recover from the January 12 earthquake, the World Bank Group has pledged US$479 million by mid-2011, including relieving Haiti’s debt to the World Bank, which has been completed. As of today, the World Bank has delivered over half of this support: US$91 million are available to Government in the form of new projects, over US$106 million have been disbursed, of which 40 percent is in the form of budget support. The remaining 60 percent has been spent on community reconstruction, transitional offices and equipment for the Ministry of Finance, repairing damaged bridges and roads, draining canals, paying tuition fees for school children and providing them with meals, strengthening Haiti’s resilience to disasters, and figuring out how to better manage and recycle debris. Show Less -