Syndicate content

International Women’s Day 2015

The global women’s rights movement: What others can learn, a progress stocktake and some great videos for IWD

Duncan Green's picture

Duncan Green reviews the balance of achievements on gender equality as summarized in a new paper from Gender and Development Network and shares some videos in honor of International Women's Day.

Egyptian woman celebrates International Women's DayIt was International Women’s Day on Sunday, which is swiftly followed by celebrations around the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing conference (I still remember the buzz from women returning from that) and the start of the 59th  Commission on the Status of Women at the UN – an annual spotlight on progress (or otherwise) on women’s rights.

Gender is a big deal in Oxfam, and I’ve often been struck by what the rest of the development business can learn from progress on gender rights, and the activism that underpins it. For starters:

Power begins with ‘power within’, when previously marginalized people kindle their sense of rights, dignity and voice. Far more of our work should start there.

Norms really matter. Gender activism shows just how shallow a lot of advocacy can be, when it concentrates on the ephemera of policy, and ignores the social norms that underpin identity and injustice. And international movements can have real impact on those norms.

Stamina: any struggle worth its salt takes decades – you don’t just look for a quick win and move on.

The world beyond money – work on areas such as the ‘care economy’ highlights just how much of what really matters lies outside the monetary economy that dominates thinking on development. We should be talking about shame and joy as much as about income and assets.

(I also happen to think the gender activists could learn useful lessons from others, but that’s another post.)

As for IWD, first some heavy policy, then some fun videos.

Ten facts you didn’t know about women in the Arab world

Maha El-Swais's picture


Women currently make up 49.7% of around 345.5 million people in the Middle East and North Africa region. But despite the many advances made in terms of closing the gender gap in health, political representation, and labor force participation, many other barriers remain. 

To celebrate International Women’s Day, here’s a list of facts about women of the Arab world. 

Gulf women and competing economies

Dr. Amal Mohammed Al-Malki's picture


‘Arab Women’ are the subject of Western and Eastern curiosity and, often, fascination. However, most attempts to investigate ‘Arab Women’ reduce them to one entity, ignoring their multitude of experience.  The fact is Arab women are very different from each other.  Just like everyone else, their realities are shaped by different personal, social, economic, religious and political factors. Arab women are the products of their diverse societies. Yet, the impact of differences on women’s lives are rarely captured or studied, much less understood. 

No girl left behind - Education in Africa

Claudia Costin's picture


On International Women’s Day, let’s remember the challenges girls face in education.


What would your life be like with only five years of schooling? For many girls around the world, this is the most education they can expect and they are the lucky ones. Across Africa, 28 million girls between the ages of about 6 and 15 are not in school and many will never even set foot in a classroom.

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

Gráfico 1

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 are still pushing a boulder uphill, but progress is real

Kaushik Basu's picture
Most women today still get the short end of the economic stick - by virtually every measure available to us, women are more constrained and economically excluded than men.
Globally, men are nearly twice as likely as women to hold full-time jobs. On average, women earn between 10 and 30 percent less than working men, while they spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, such as caring for family members and doing housework.

Here are five countries with the highest and least proportion of women in parliaments

Ravi Kumar's picture
Maria Neida. Brazil
Maria Neida. Jatoba Black Community Association. Brazil. Video Stil. © Romel Simon/World Bank

“When one woman is a leader, it changes her. When more women are leaders, it changes politics and policies,” says Michelle Bachelet, the president of Republic of Chile. It’s true.

Over the last few decades, the world has seen an increase in number of women leaders. It’s key to our progress. When there are more women leaders, everyone benefits not just women.

​If we want a better world, we need to elect more women leaders.

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.

​Putting ourselves in women’s shoes: Experiences from rural Bolivia

Francisco Obreque's picture


I recall a visit to a Bank-funded project in a rural Bolivian community. An enthusiastic Quechua woman was proudly telling me that she was about to undertake the 3-hour journey to Sucre with her “wawa” (baby) to get the three price quotes she needed to purchase wire for the community fences. She was participating in one of over 600 investments designed to help vulnerable rural communities in Bolivia lift themselves out of poverty, within the scope of the Community Investment in Rural Areas Project (PICAR) executed by the Ministry of Rural Development of Lands.    
 
“You just have one wawa, right?,” I asked. She replied: “Well, this is the youngest of six children; the others will stay home. My ten-year-old daughter will look after the younger ones. Right now my husband is working in the Chapare, harvesting coca leaves. He only comes home occasionally.”
 
After talking with her I had mixed feelings. One the one hand, I was worried that our gender-targeted project was asking too much of her and might be harming her kids in some way. On the other hand, I realized that it was giving her a unique chance to engage in tasks historically performed by the men.

Defying Stereotypes, Chandigarh’s Women Bus Conductors Make Their Mark

Sangeeta Kumari's picture

If you thought Indian women would shy away from working in that traditionally male preserve - the formidable public transport system - think again. Young women in Chandigarh are daring to turn stereotypes on their head by signing up in large numbers to work as bus conductors! And that too on regular public buses, not just on female-only ‘ladies specials’.
 

Photo Credit: Ishita Chauhan

Pages