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equality

Are Global Gender Norms Shifting?

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve been thinking a bit about norms recently – how do the unwritten rules that guide so much of our behaviour and understanding of what is acceptable/right/normal etc evolve over time? Because they undoubtedly do – look at attitudes to slavery, women’s votes, racial equality or more recently child rights.

So in advance of International Women’s Day, I ploughed my way through a really important new World Bank study, On Norms and Agency: Conversations about Gender Equality with Women and Men in 20 Countries. Like the Bank’s path-breaking Voices of the Poor or the more recent Time to Listen, it’s an attempt to take the global temperature on a big topic through a process of rigorous and deep listening involving 4000 women and men around the developing world.

Such studies are lengthy, complex and expensive, but are incredibly revealing and useful, especially as they start to accumulate. We’re trying a mini version with the Life in a time of Food Price Volatility listening project – first year results out soon.

The report is 150 pages and pretty heavy going – subtle, nuanced and complex, and very hard to extract easy headlines. A close reading will yield much more than a skim, but for the time-poor blog reader, here are some of the findings that jumped out at me.

It's About Time for the Men to Step Up!

Prabu Deepan's picture

As part of World Bank South Asia's "What Will It Take to End Gender-Based Violence" campaign, we invited Prabu Deepan to blog about his ideas as the co-founder of the Stitch Movement in Sri Lanka.

Join Deepan for a live chat on Tuesday, March 5 at 4:00 p.m. Sri Lanka time. Location: facebook.com/worldbanksrilanka.

Gender norms and stereotypes not only affect women, they have an impact on men too. As a child whose father lost his job, I had to quit school and pick up the responsibilities of a man, to support my family financially. It has been more than 13 years and I have never stopped working; this is stressful. Studies show that men’s stress and childhood trauma increase the probability of them perpetrating violence against their partners, in comparison with a man who hasn’t had a stressful life or a traumatic childhood.

Of course, I don’t beat women, harass them, or even tease them because of my difficult upbringing. I guess most of you share the same sentiment. If I’m not someone who perpetuates violence against women and girls, then why is it my problem, right? I’m a good guy, I respect women, I treat them equally and definitely have never harmed them physically, so why worry about all of this?

Gender equality in Laos: first impressions can be deceptive

Helene Carlsson Rex's picture
Watch the video highlighting the report's findings.

My mother always told me that first impressions are deceptive. Turns out, this is true also when it comes to gender equality.

I lived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, for six years, working in the World Bank’s country office on social development and gender issues. I still recall arriving in Vientiane, the sleepy city by the mighty Mekong river, and being taken by surprise of how empowered women seemed to be. I noticed women driving their motorbikes in the city, female shop owners serving delicious mango and papaya, and women in the latest business suits hurrying back to the office.

In a country where poverty has decreased by 25% since the 1990s, it was easy to get the impression that women are truly enjoying the benefits of development on equal terms with men. The laws are supportive of women as well. These have clear targets in place that promote women’s human development, economic opportunity, and participation.

Closing the Gap for Women in Business

Caroline Anstey's picture

Read this post in Español, Français, 中文

 

woman in businessA woman works in a small shop in Ghana.
Photo by Arne Hoel

What will it take for the world to wake up and realize the advantages of supporting women entrepreneurs in the developing world?

If that sounds like an odd question to be asking in the 21st century, just consider some facts. We know that globally women make up almost half the world’s workforce. And we know that in developing economies, 30-40% of entrepreneurs running small or medium sized businesses are women.

But here’s something you may not know – at least 9 out of 10 women-owned businesses have no access to loans. So, just imagine the frustration of a woman in a developing country, who has started a small business, is attracting a good clientele, has a business plan to grow her business, but can’t get a loan to expand. That's not an isolated story. It’s a frustration shared by many women in the developing world. And the frustration of those women sounds echoingly similar to the frustration still lingering in the voices of older women from rich countries, telling how some three decades ago they were refused bank home loans, despite having a guaranteed income.

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Closing the Gender (Data) Gap: Clinton, Kim Launch New Efforts for Better Gender Data

Donna Barne's picture

The phrase “gender gap” may be well known – but what about the gender gap for data? Today at an event at the Gallup Organization in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim called for better data-gathering on girls and women as an essential way to boost women’s empowerment and economic growth.

“Gender equality is vital for growth and competitiveness,” said Dr. Kim at “Evidence and Impact: Closing the Gender Data Gap” in Washington, co-hosted by the State Department and the Gallup Organization.

But the lack of gender-disaggregated data hampers development efforts in many countries, Dr. Kim said.

“We need to find this missing data. We need to make women count.”

Women outvote men to build activity hall in the Solomons

David Potten's picture
The soon to be completed women's meeting hall will house various activities to help women develop themselves.

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post)

While leaving leaving the LoLoMo eco-resort, the rain seemed to carefully time its return for our last leg of the trip. We were heading back towards Munda, and then turned to yet another island to visit the Buni Village Women’s Project.  This was project was in its first year of implementation. A large hall, together with rooms for guests, toilets (not standard in the rural Solomons), benches and a large blackboard was almost complete. The local carpenter was busy there in the building, planing wood for tables and benches.

Rights and Development

Anupama Dokeniya's picture

There is increasing convergence between the goals that human rights advocates aspire to, and the development work of the World Bank. This was the consensus reached at a panel discussion on Integrating Human Rights in PREM's work, organized as part of the Conference organized by the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) network on May 1 and 2, 2012. The panel included Otaviano Canuto, Vice President of the Network, and other experts at the Bank working on labor, justice, poverty, and governance issues from a rights-perspective. It was moderated by Linda van Gelder, Director of the Public Sector and Governance group.

The panel showcased innovative ways in which a human rights perspective is being integrated into the Bank's work. In Vietnam, the governance team has engaged the country in looking at how right to information can further transparency and how awareness of rights can make the state more responsive to citizens.  A team in PREM is looking at the Human Opportunity Index as a means of assessing inequality of opportunity among children. The World Development Report on Jobs emphasizes the concept of ‘better jobs’ that improve societal welfare, not just ‘more jobs’. Several of these programs are supported through the Nordic Trust Fund that furthers a human rights approach to development issues.

Gender in the Pacific: Can a report help improve equality?

Katherine Patrick's picture

As a junior member of the team who produced the forthcoming East Asia and Pacific companion to the World Development Report 2012 “Toward Gender Equality in East Asia and the Pacific”, I was excited to present its findings in the Pacific. After spending months reading, writing, reviewing and revising our findings and content, I had a plethora of questions waiting to be answered about the impact of our work:  How would our audience receive it? Will our findings, based on painstakingly collected data and research, be adapted to the reality of gender and development in their country?  Will they be able to use these reports to continue working toward gender equality in all aspects of life? Will our reports help people, namely women, lead more productive and fulfilling lives?

Last month I went to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji with the rest of the team to share and discuss our findings with members of government, the media, civil society, students and our donor partners.

The Law’s Majestic Equality?

Varun Gauri's picture

Literary writers do not think much of the law. In the last century, Anatole France wrote, mordantly: “The majestic equality of the laws prohibits the rich and the poor alike from sleeping under bridges, begging in the streets and stealing bread.” More recently, Aarvind Adiga says, “The jails of Delhi are full of drivers who are there behind bars because they are taking the blame for their good, solid middle-class masters. . . . The judges? Wouldn't they see through this obviously forced confession? But they are in the racket too. They take their bribe, they ignore the discrepancies in the case. And life goes on.”


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