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The missing “Killer App”: Women's empowerment & their economic contribution

Nadereh Chamlou's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2012Before the holidays, World Bank staff was treated – and I mean treated in its true and exquisite sense – to two fascinating speakers and groundbreaking books, both explaining underlying reasons for the “divergence” between Western economies and other regions of the world that were ahead of the West for much of humankind’s history in terms of culture, science, and prosperity. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and elsewhere, there has been a longstanding discussion about what helped the West to speed ahead, and what held others back.   

Gender equality in time

Aida Haddad's picture
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Every year, during a time oscillating between summer and autumn, my institution the World Bank and the IMF jointly hold their Annual Meetings. Often, concerns about the global economy dominate the discussions.  With all that is going on this year, I wondered why the main theme of the meeting was gender equality. As important as the topic may be, it was not going to deliver a tangible outcome in the near future, especially when developing countries in particular are facing uncertain horizons. And yet, I must say I felt a sense of pride in, and belonging to, this message. The message was bold and visible: In their different tongues they asked the same question: “Equal?”

Thinking equal

Patti Petesch's picture
Also available in: Français

The World Bank's "think equal" campaign, which  launched the new World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, addresses the challenge of women's empowerment and gender equality well.  Preconceived notions of what it means to be a "real man" or a "real woman" are deeply internalized and integral to our identities and relationships. Women and men who seek to mix up this picture will have to do the hard work of acknowledging that some of our most cherished values and assumptions about gender no longer make sense and may ultimately  prove to be harmful. 

An exception to the gender gap in education: the Middle East & North Africa?

Simon Thacker's picture
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For a region not known for its equitable attitudes towards women, the Middle East offers up some surprising results for girls in school, results that are better in some ways than the rest of the world. For the moment, however, this academic achievement is not necessarily translating into progress for women in higher education or the labor market. In a recent NBER working paper, authors Fryer and Levitt find evidence for a gender gap in elementary school level mathematics in the United States, a gender gap that they find, extending their analysis to international results, in elementary- and secondary-level students around the world – except the Middle East.

Protecting human dignity through women's economic empowerment

Guest Blogger's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

She stared at the money in her palm for a long time while tears slowly trickled down her face. After a long silence Hana, a 19 year old Yemeni woman spoke, “This is the first money I have ever held in my hand that is mine.” “How do you feel?” asked the director of the women’s shelter where Hana had been living in for the past four months. As if reborn and with an empowered voice, she replied, “Strong.” The story of Hana is one example of the barriers faced by Yemeni women. Born into a violent environment where her vicious father abused women, Hana lived her childhood believing that she was worthless.

Thinking equal in the Middle East & North Africa

Tara Vishwanath's picture
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World over, many aspects of gender inequality continue to persist. Women face higher risks of death at birth and throughout their life cycle. Women are under-represented in schools, jobs, boardrooms and parliaments. Women continue to earn less than equally qualified men. In many cases, women have less power to make decisions and choices about their lives even within their homes. Many of these persistent gender gaps are still evident even in the developed world. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is little difference between girls and boys in education or health outcomes.

Nourishing the hopes of millions of Egyptians

Aida Haddad's picture

The story of Ghalia Mahmoud published in the August 17th edition of the Washington Post took me by surprise. I had hardly finished the article when questions began to fill my head and my heart started to flutter with excitement.  Was it because Ghalia, previously a maid, had  succeeded in becoming a TV host? Or was it that the Washington Post was interested in telling her story, deeming it worthy of publishing? Or was it tied to my glimpse of the World Bank report on Food Price Watch a few days earlier? It reported that the high level of global food prices and continued price volatility, posed a constant threat to the poorest segments of the population in developing countries.

Will people power empower women?

Nadereh Chamlou's picture
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Will people power empower women?The democratic movements sprouting all over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are arousing high optimism for greater voice and inclusiveness. Democracies are about sharing power, and about reflecting the will of the people through peaceful processes at the ballot box.  But, will the will of the people and people power usher in greater gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly as women fought shoulder to shoulder with men for change?