During the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings’ “Engaging Women as Leaders: Innovation, Financing and Collective Action” event on October 11, speakers from government, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society pressed for the economic inclusion and empowerment of women, agreeing on the enormous benefits to economies and societies of accelerating gender equality.
A discussion between Anna Bjerde, Managing Director for Operations, World Bank; Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt; and Amina Mohamed Deputy Secretary General of the UN kicked off the event, focusing on the commitment and action of international and national actors to pave a path toward equality, despite the scale of the challenge.
Bjerde called gender equality a moral, social, and economic issue. She said women are at the center of the Bank’s mission and cited sobering statistics, including that at the current rate of progress it would take 131 years to close gaps in gender equality, such as equal access to finance and pay. The Bank is using evidence on how to reach women, she said, to close gender gaps, and will continue focusing on operationally relevant research, policy reform, and dialogue to advance change. Bjerde pointed out that we see a marked correlation between the prosperity of today’s generation and the next generation because of the decisions that women make today. In support of this, the World Bank Group aims to release a new Gender Strategy for the 2024-2030 early next year – an ongoing consultation process on the proposed Strategy is open until November 30, 2023.
Al-Mashat called women’s participation in the economy “macro-critical” and shared Egypt’s commitment to advancing women’s economic empowerment. She stressed the importance of data and evidence in informing policy dialogue. Al-Mashat also stressed that making progress on national goals each country is contributing to global goals.
Focusing on the global goals, Mohammed emphasized that, “We are off track on gender SGD 5, but we have the solutions.” She pointed out that there is evidence on what investments need to happen, and that governments are doing much more than before on gender equality, but more work is needed to achieve results. “We have the policies, tools, and frameworks. It’s the implementation that needs to be improved,” she said.