Women’s Empowerment: Political or Economic Development First?
April 16, 2015Washington, D.C.

A debate hosted by the National Democratic Institute and the World Bank Group's Women, Business, and the Law team


Irene Khan (economic empowerment): Irene Khan is Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). The first woman to hold this office, she was elected by Member Parties on 17 November 2011 and took up her position formally on 1 January 2012 for a term of four years. An international thought leader on human rights, gender and social justice issues, Khan was Secretary General of Amnesty International from 2001-2009. Prior to that, she worked for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 21 years at headquarters and in various field operations. She was Visiting Professor at the State University of New York Law School (Buffalo) in 2011. Khan is a member of the World Bank Advisory Council on Gender and Development. She sits on the boards of several international human rights and development organizations. Khan received the Sydney Peace Prize in 2006 for her work to end violence against women and girls. Her book, The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights, has been translated into seven languages. Born in Bangladesh, she studied law at the University of Manchester and Harvard Law School.

Professor Linda Scott (economic empowerment): Professor Linda Scott is DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Scott is best known for her creation of the concept of the Double X Economy—a perspective which describes the global economy of women in both the developed and developing world, and the roles of women not only as consumers, but as investors, donors and workers. She writes a blog called The Double X Economy, as well as blogging for Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek on gender issues. She is founder of Power Shift, the Oxford Forum for Women in the World Economy. Scott also serves on the Access to Markets subcommittee of the International Business Women's Leadership Council of the U.S. State Department. She is also currently leading a global initiative to put women’s financial inclusion on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—the #DoubleXPetition.

Shari Bryan (political empowerment): Shari Bryan is the Vice President at the Washington, D.C.-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). Bryan served as Senior Associate and Regional Director of the Institute's democratic development programs in Southern and East Africa (SEA) from 2001 through early 2008. She has overseen the expansion of NDI's programs in the region with the establishment of seven permanent offices, which furnish assistance with political, civic and governance development throughout the African continent. In addition, Bryan has traveled to and worked in over 22 countries in Africa, organized election observation missions around the region, and provided training in the skills necessary for political candidates, government officials and voters to participate in democratic life. Bryan is a guest and commentator for many major news outlets; has testified before the U.S. Congress; and presented papers before a variety of international organizations including the UNDP, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA); the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID); has co-authored Money in Politics A Study of Party Financing Practices in 22 Countries, published in 2005; and Transparency and Accountability in Africa s Extractive Industries: The Role of the Legislature, published in 2007. Before joining NDI, she worked as an attorney for the United States Government, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and served as a legal advisor in the Republic of Palau.

Sandra Pepera (political empowerment): Sandra Pepera is a career diplomat and international development professional.  Before joining NDI as its director for Gender, Women and Democracy, she spent thirteen years as a senior officer at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), including leading programmes in the Caribbean, Rwanda-Burundi and Sudan. Prior to joining DFID, Pepera’s career saw her spend time in British domestic politics; lecturing in political science and international relations at the University of Ghana; and as a political analyst in the Political Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat.  She has a portfolio of skills and experience which include strategy development, political and risk analysis, diplomacy, general management, and corporate governance. Much of Pepera’s career has been spent working in or on transitional economies, focusing on the building of resilient and inclusive institutions. She led work on women and politics at the University of Ghana, and in outreach public policy during the period of intense and unstable political transition in the early 1990s. This included participating in a program of support to the ANC Women’s League during South African’s transition from apartheid to majority democratic rule in 1993. Pepera is a member of the Cambridge Sustainability Leaders Network, the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Global Board Ready Women initiative, and the International Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Journal for International Affairs (the Round Table). She holds the Financial Times Diploma for Non-Executive Directors, and serves as a Trustee for the pension fund of an intergovernmental organization.


Joanne Levine: Joanne Levine is an international journalist who has served as senior editor for NPR and has just become Executive Producer of Al Jazeera America.

Event Details
  • When: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Where: Room I 2-250, I Building, 1850 I St. NW, World Bank
  • CONTACT: Women, Business and the Law team