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Empowering Women: Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa
June 19, 2013Washington, D.C.

Expanding economic opportunities for women has intrinsic value. It is also instrumental in fostering development and realizing the potential of all people to ensure growth, productivity and a vibrant society. However, as evidence has shown, these aspirations are often constrained by limited access to property rights in developing countries.

A Gender and Development Seminar Series Event

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Drawing on the new Women’s Legal and Economic Empowerment Database for Africa, the authors of a new book, Empowering Women: Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa, review the extent of gender inequality in legal rights to property and access to justice, and discuss the implications of that inequality for women’s economic empowerment in Africa. They also discuss the extent to which the law can play a catalytic role for economic development and women’s economic empowerment.


Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Lead Economist, Office of the Chief Economist of the World Bank

Mary Hallward-Driemeier is a Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist of the World Bank. Since joining the World Bank as a Young Professional in 1997, she has published articles on entrepreneurship, firm productivity, the impact of the investment climate on firm performance, the impact of financial crises, and determinants of foreign direct investment. She is a co-leader of the Jobs Knowledge Platform, an interactive website facilitating the exchange of data, research findings and opinion on how to expand job opportunities in developing countries. She was the Deputy Director for the World Development Report 2005: A Better Investment Climate for Everyone. She helped establish the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys Program, now covering over 100,000 enterprises in 100 countries. She is also a founding member of the Microeconomics of Growth Network. Her latest book is Empowering Women: Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa. She received her M.Sc. in development economics from Oxford University and her Ph.D. in economics from M.I.T.

Tazeen Hasan, Consultant
Tazeen Hasan is a legal specialist with the Gender Anchor (PRMGE) at the World Bank. She is working with Women, Business and the Law and the Development Policy Unit on a multiregional initiative focusing on legal constraints impacting on female entrepreneurship and labor force participation. She was the legal specialist for the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development and the MENA companion report Opening Doors: Gender Equality in the Middle East and North Africa, and is coauthor of a World Bank report Empowering Women: Legal Rights and Economic Opportunities in Africa. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Tazeen practiced as a barrister in the UK specializing in civil and commercial law, and subsequently worked in Kenya as a legal advisor to NGOs. She obtained a Masters in International Law from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in Law from Pembroke College, University of Oxford.


Hassane Cisse, Deputy General Counsel, Knowledge and Research, World Bank

Hassane Cissé, a national of Senegal, joined the World Bank in 1997 after serving for seven years as Counsel at the International Monetary Fund. He has been Deputy General Counsel, Knowledge and Research, of the Bank since 2009. In this capacity, he provides intellectual leadership on strategic legal and policy issues facing the institution and leads the Bank’s knowledge agenda on law, justice and development. He is the editor-in-chief of the World Bank’s Law, Justice and Development Series and has authored several papers on various aspects of international economic law. He co-edited in 2012 and 2013 the World Bank Legal Review, respectively on International Financial Institutions and Global Legal Governance and Legal Innovation and Empowerment for Development. Prior to his current position, Cissé served for many years as Chief Counsel for Operations Policy of the World Bank. In this capacity, he contributed to the modernization and simplification of the Bank’s legal and policy framework. He also served as legal advisor on governance and anti-corruption and led, in particular the exercise that resulted in the adoption by the Bank in 2006 of an expanded policy framework for sanctions. He was appointed in 2007 to serve as a member of the World Bank’s newly established Sanctions Board. Cissé obtained his LL.B (High Hons.) from Dakar University in Senegal where he graduated at the top of his Class; he also holds a LL.M degree from Harvard Law School as well as graduate law degrees (Hons.) from the universities of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris II Panthéon-Assas and a graduate degree in history (High Hons.) from Paris I University.


Christina Biebesheimer, Chef Counsel

Christina Biebesheimer is Chief Counsel of the Justice Reform Practice Group in the Legal Vice-Presidency of the World Bank. Prior to joining the Bank she was Principal Specialist in Modernization of the State in the Inter-American Development Bank from 1989-2005, and an Associate with the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy from 1986-1989. Her publications include "Measuring the Impact of Criminal Justice Reform in Latin America" (in Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad, Thomas Carothers, editor, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2006); "The Impact of Human Rights Principles on Justice Reform in the Inter-American Development Bank" (in Human Rights and Development: Towards Mutual Reinforcement, Alston and Robinson, editors, Oxford University Press, 2005); and Justice Beyond Our Borders: Judicial Reforms for Latin America and the Caribbean (Biebesheimer, Mejia, editors, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). Biebesheimer is a member of the Board of Editors, Hague Journal on the Rule of Law; and of the Board of Directors of Offender Aid and Restoration of Arlington County, a non-profit community organization aimed at reestablishing former offenders as productive and responsible members of the community. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Iowa, studied at the Universidade Classica de Lisboa, and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Alice R. Ouedraogo, Senior Private Sector Development Specialist
Alice Ouedraogo is a Senior Private Sector Development Specialist with the Investment Climate Unit (CIC) in Washington, Alice leads Investment Climate programs in mostly conflict affected countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Afghanistan. She also leads a Secured Transaction technical assistance program in Ghana. Alice Ouedraogo is a Burkina Faso National and joined the Bank in 1994. She has since held various IFC assignments in the field mainly concentrating in SMEs development. Alice holds a master’s degree in Finance.

Event Details
  • Time: 12:30-2 p.m.
  • Where: MC 2-800, World Bank Headquarters
  • CONTACT: Mame Niasse
  • mniasse@worldbank.org