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Middle East and North Africa

The global state of gender in 7 charts

Tariq Khokhar's picture

This Sunday, International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women, while calling for greater gender equality. Ahead of several high-profile campaigns and initiatives launching this week and next, I thought I’d highlight some gender data and trends that you might not know about.

Note: as these data are from different sources, some of the members of regional groupings may differ between charts, please refer to the original sources for details.

1) 91% of the world’s girls completed primary school

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Data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics and World Development Indicators

In 2012, more girls completed primary school than ever before. Since 2000, there’s been progress across the world but large disparities remain between regions and countries. Only 66% of girls in Sub Saharan Africa completed primary school in 2012, and in three countries this figure was under 35%. Educating girls is one of the best investments we can make and by 2015, developing countries as a whole are likely to reach gender parity (about the same numbers of boys and girls) in terms of primary and secondary enrollment.

Women entrepreneurs thriving in Gaza’s nascent start-up community

Iliana Montauk's picture
 Gaza Sky Geeks

It is amazing how often in crisis, new opportunities arise. Gaza is no exception. With its borders tightly controlled, the narrow strip (roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C.) is the last place one would think of looking for economic opportunities for young women. And yet, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the territory’s regional limitations, women in Gaza have an advantage when it comes to becoming leaders in technology start-ups.

Waiting on a waiver - what the WTO's new services initiative could mean for LDCs

Marcus Bartley Johns's picture

Workers sort, repack, and ship goods in Al Obaied Crop Market, North Kordofan, Sudan. Source - Salahaldeen Nadir/World BankThe World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has been getting a great deal of attention since it was finalized at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference– and rightly so. As we’ve written before on this blog, trade facilitation is a powerful driver of increased competitiveness and trade performance in developing countries.
 
But last month, the spotlight at the WTO was on another important decision from Bali—how to maximize the impact of a waiver to support exports of services from Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

At a meeting on February 5, around 30 WTO Members, covering most major export markets for LDCs, set out in concrete terms what preferences they could provide. The preferences cover a wide range of services and modes of supply, as well as regulatory issues that LDCs have identified in a “collective request” to other WTO Members. 

Islamic sukuk: A promising form of finance for green infrastructure projects

Michael Bennett's picture
Casablanca traffic. Arne Hoel/World Bank


Three trends in the  global financial market are converging to make sukuk, the Islamic financial instrument most similar to a conventional bond, a potentially viable form of finance for green investments: (1) banks are reluctant to finance infrastructure due to stricter capital requirements; (2) an increasing number of investors are interested in ‘environmentally sustainable investing’ (in other words, investing to promote activities seen as positive for the environment); and (3) the market for sukuk  is growing significantly. While these three trends are distinct and not obviously related, taken together, they create a market opportunity for sukuk to be used as a tool to finance environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects.
 
The need for significant infrastructure spending is obvious in both developed and developing countries. From crumbling transportation infrastructure in the United States to inadequate power generation capacity in India, the evidence is clear that improving infrastructure is a global priority. At the same time, popular concern about climate change and the detrimental impact of increasing greenhouse gas emissions has also made improving infrastructure in an environmentally sustainable manner a priority.

Tracking hidden wealth alters view of inequality in the Middle East and North Africa

Catherine Bond's picture


Until now, the gap between rich and poor in the Middle East and North Africa has seemed—statistically at least—narrower than in many other regions of the world. Digging up data on wealth that has been squirreled abroad and hidden from the public eye, though, changes that. 

Can teachers unions help improve the quality of education in the Arab world?

Kamel Braham's picture


In many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and in fact around the world, teachers—who play a pivotal role in any effort to improve education quality—have not been officially represented in the design of key government programs aimed at education reform.

Can Tunisia become a hub for entrepreneurs?

Christine Petré's picture


Although Tunisia has made significant political progress since its 2011 revolution, in terms of the economy, development has stalled. Tunis-based writer, Christine Petré takes the pulse of entrepreneurship in this young democracy and finds that despite obstacles many would-be entrepreneurs remain positive.  

​Open skies over the Middle East

Russell Hillberry's picture
Thirty years ago, most international travel was routed through national “gateway” airports in cities like New York, London or Tokyo.  Someone travelling between secondary cities such as Atlanta and Manchester would typically make two plane changes en route.  Due in part to changes in international aviation policies, travelers from those same secondary cities now have direct flights to many more international locations.
 

How to Reverse the Post-Crisis Slowdown of Growth in Emerging Economies?

Aristomene Varoudakis's picture
Growth in emerging economies has slowed over the past three years, something being discussed with urgency at the G20 meetings in Istanbul, Turkey. Part of the slowdown is cyclical, but a significant part reflects sluggish potential growth. Using new empirical evidence, this column argues that ambitious structural reforms can fully offset the slowdown of potential growth in emerging economies. Reforms that remove barriers to open markets and improve access to finance play a key role in revitalizing total factor productivity growth and boosting private investment.

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