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Gender Inequality in Europe and Central Asia - Challenges and Opportunities

March 5, 2020

Washington, DC



  • The Europe and Central Asia region has a complex landscape with regard to gender equality. The World Bank's Regional Gender Action Strategy highlights a number of challenges: although the region shines in terms of low infant and maternal mortality rates, it has yet to address high male mortality and low female births in selected countries. Men are far less likely to attend universities, while women are much less likely to pursue science and engineering.

    Though women have higher human capital than men, on average, they lag behind in the labor market with lower activity rates and incomes, and in entrepreneurship with smaller businesses. In the labor market, relatively few women work, and those who do work are paid less, work fewer hours, and pursue different occupations than men. The lack of child care and elder care institutions makes it difficult for women to balance career and family, especially since women continue to do the majority of housework.

    For financial inclusion, the gender gap in account ownership persists, with the largest gap being in Turkey, where 83 percent of men but just 54 percent of women have accounts. And, gender-based violence is a persistent problem in all countries.   

    In light of these challenges, how can the region make progress? How can the narrative on the relationship between gender gaps and the region’s development be elevated? What are some of the trade-offs that should be considered in policy and regulatory reforms? And finally, how can interventions address both male and female disadvantage and begin to shift entrenched gender norms? 

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    Caren Grown

    Senior Director, Gender, World Bank Group

    Caren Grown, Senior Director for Gender at the World Bank Group, is recognized internationally as an expert on gender and development. Before joining the Bank Group in 2014, she was Economist-in-Residence and Co-Director of the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University. From 2013-2014, she led the UNU-WIDER program on aid effectiveness and gender equality, and from 2011-2013 she served as Senior Gender Adviser and Acting Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID. Among her previous positions, Dr. Grown has been Senior Scholar and Co-Director of the Gender Equality and Economy Program at the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College, Director of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Governance team at the International Center for Research on Women, and Senior Program Officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt

    Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asia region at the World Bank. Prior to this, Asli was Director of Research in the Development Economics Vice-Presidency. Since joining the Bank in 1989 as a young economist, Asli has held several other positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.


  • DATE: March 5, 2020
  • TIME: 10:00AM – 11:30AM
  • LOCATION: MC 13-121, World Bank MC building
  • CONTACT: Suzette Dahlia Samms-Lindsay