During the 2011 World Bank Annual Meetings, we decided to give the highest visibility to the topic of gender equality in connection with the World Development Report 2012.
The report details the need of the world to close the big gender gaps that exist in order to pursue a path of true development for many countries. There is global progress, for example, in education.
But in other metrics, the data on gender equality is appalling:
Worldwide, women make up the majority of unpaid workers. And violence against women is still widespread.
What will reading be like for children around the world in the digital age?
Ben Bederson thinks this is a question we should be asking children themselves.
Bederson, a professor at the University of Maryland (USA) and the co-founder (with Allison Druin) of the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL), was the keynote presenter at an event in Hangzhou, China earlier this week sponsored by UNESCO, the World Bank, the Korean Education & Research Information Service and a number of other partners. The ICDL (not to be confused with the International Computer Driving Licence, which shares the same acronym) is dedicated to building a collection of "outstanding children's books from around the world and supporting communities of children and adults in exploring and using this literature through innovative technology designed in close partnership with children for children". The ICDL, which is part of the World Bank-funded READ project in Mongolia, currently features children's books in over 50 languages and receives over 100,000 visitors a month to its web site.
At the heart of Bederson's wide-ranging talk (and indeed at the heart of the ICDL itself) is a belief in the value and importance of child-centered design. Notably (and rather famously, in some quarters) the ICDL utilizes children as design partners in the development of the digital library, and how it is used. Adopting this approach sometimes yields approaches that, at least for many in the audience in Hangzhou, were rather surprising.