Skip to Main Navigation
Speeches & TranscriptsMarch 8, 2024

Remarks by Anna Bjerde, World Bank Managing Director of Operations, at the MIGA Gender Leadership Award

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good morning! 

What a pleasure to celebrate International Women’s Day with you all and present the MIGA Gender Leadership Award to our winner: Ginette Borduas. Congratulations, Ginette!

Your work and commitment to sustainability and environmental, social, and governance procedures is worth this recognition.

The way Meridiam, under her leadership, has set a high standard for integrating gender equality into business practices is inspiring.

But today, I’d also like to challenge all of you – here in person and online – men and women – to use your voice and influence for gender equality. Because we’re far from where we should be in 2024.

Earlier this week, the World Bank launched its latest Women, Business, and the Law report and the findings are shocking. 

The report finds that women have about two-thirds of the rights of men, and that nowhere in the world do women have the same legal rights as men in all the indicators measured. Nowhere.

The report includes 190 countries, and the analysis shows that no country provides equal opportunity for women – not even the wealthiest economies.

And this is only half of the picture. Despite laws promoting gender equality, less than 40% of countries have established the systems needed for their full implementation. 

This is unacceptable and we have a lot of work to do. This is why we need all of you to be allies in this fight.

My personal source of hope lies in the women leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, farmers, I meet all over the world – each of them determined to make a difference and challenge the status quo.

I was recently in Colombia where I was able to witness firsthand how women have shaped the country’s path to peace and are at the forefront of environmental conservation in the Amazon. 

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet remarkable women in India and Bangladesh. Women who are breaking through the glass ceiling and contributing to economic growth. 

Half of the world’s population is female, and it should be a given that they should have the same access to resources and opportunities as males. 

But the sad reality is that around three-quarters of all men participate in the labor force, yet in South Asia, the number for women is only 25%, and 20% in the Middle East and North Africa. 

This huge gender divide slows economic growth and stalls our progress toward equality. 

The world cannot achieve prosperity if we leave half of the population behind. The world cannot miss out on women’s economic power.  

The mission of the World Bank Group --to eradicate poverty on a livable planet-- places women and young people front and center. 

We are deploying our resources and energy to create more opportunities for women. 

From empowering girls and children to stay in school in Africa to providing credit to women-owned business in Latin America, we have a multi-pronged approach to addressing women’s participation in the labor force. 

The World Bank Group provides advisory services to countries, helping them craft policies that focus on women’s leadership, and financing projects that put women’s skills to work. 

Achieving our mission to increase women’s labor force participation requires more capital than what the multilateral development banks have at their disposal. 

That is why it is crucial for us to attract private sector capital investment in developing countries.

And we have used our guarantee instruments to bring in the much-needed foreign direct investment in emerging markets. 

For example, with credit enhancement guarantees, Meridiam entered a public-private partnership to design, construct, equip, and maintain the 1,300-bed Bursa City Hospital in Türkiye. 

This project is helping Türkiye increase the quality and efficiency of the health care system and enhance access to health care facilities to its people. 

In Gabon, guarantees are supporting the first private sector-led hydropower plant. Meridiam is building and operating this 35-megawatt project, which will avoid over 90,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. 

MIGA supported Meridiam to acquire, operate, and maintain Senegal’s first 100% electric Bus Rapid Transit system. This will not only provide safe transportation for women but also increase access to the qualified jobs created by the project. 

This is a clear illustration of the One Word Bank Group approach, in which MIGA’s assistance to Meridiam is built upon the financing support provided by IDA and advisory services by IFC to the project.

These projects are not only contributing to the economies of the countries but also creating much needed jobs, including opportunities for women.

Let’s try to picture the concrete impact all these projects have on women and girls:

  • Women for whom taking care of a sick family member is made easier.

  • Women for whom a house connected to electricity opens a multitude of digital opportunities.

  • Girls who won’t be forced to study in the dark after sunset.

  • Or young female professionals who can commute to work in a safe and secure environment.

I could go on and on. The bottom line is that additional jobs will come from the green transition. And I am keen to hear the panel discussion today on the shift to a green and caring economy.

Women are at the heart of the World Bank Group’s climate change agenda to build a sustainable and resilient future. 

We need to level the playing field for women in all sectors to realize our mission of ending extreme poverty on a livable planet. 

Thank you! 


    loader image


    loader image