As the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is marked worldwide, we present to you stories of 16 inspiring heroes from Nepal. They are crusaders and pioneers, leaders and visionaries who share one common trait – a remarkable journey in their path towards equality and empowerment. They belong to diverse backgrounds, cultures, castes and groups. Yet all of them have stood against odds and managed to make a difference in many lives.
To stem violence, it is crucial that countries and program implementers are informed by evidence on what works best. There needs to be a stronger, broader knowledge base about prevention and response that can inform investments, policy and practice.
It’s a dusty September morning, and Kiran Devi is finishing her chores at lightning speed.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to keep 5,000 women waiting, especially when it’s a celebration,” she says with a touch of gushing pride and makes her way to the annual general meeting of the women-owned Aaranyak Agri producer company.
Located in Purnea district in Bihar—one of India’s poorest states—the company is made up of small local women small farmers and producers and lies in the most fertile corn regions in eastern India.
But until recently, small farmers did not fully reap the benefits of this productive land.
Local traders and intermediaries dominated the unregulated market. Archaic and unfair trading practices like manual weighing, unscientific quality testing, and irregular payments made it difficult for small farmers to get the best value for their produce.
“The trader would come, put some grains under his teeth and pronounce the quality and pricing. For every quintal of maize [corn], 5-10 kilos additional grains were taken, sometimes through faulty scales and sometimes simply by brazenly asking for it,” says Lal Devi, one member of the company. “We had the choice between getting less or getting nothing.”
The company established a farmer-centric model and received funding and technical assistance through JEEViKA (livelihoods in Hindi), a World Bank program that supports the Government of Bihar and has achieved life-changing results for Bihar’s rural communities.
World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender, Caren Grown (@CarenGrown), and Director for Social Development, Maninder Gill (@ManinderSGill), discuss with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director for Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience, a new Good Practice Note created to help World Bank staff and partners identify gender-based violence risks – particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment – in projects with major civil works contracts. This note helps project teams to assess the risks of gender-based violence, address these risks through mitigation and monitoring, and respond to any identified gender-based violence incidents.
This adds to other World Bank resources, including the Violence Against Women And Girls Resource Guide which offers guidance for development projects along with strategies for policies and legislation.
Technology serves as a key driver of change and opens new avenues to address the world’s most complex challenges. It is changing the nature of work and challenging traditional production patterns. And it is changing the skills that employers seek, how people work and the terms on which they work.
This month, the World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development will meet for its twice-yearly meeting to discuss the World Bank Group (WBG)’s recent developments and initiatives to close key gaps between men and women. Chaired by Kristalina Georgieva and comprising senior government representatives from client and donor countries, private sector and civil society, the Council is the main external consultative body helping the WBG consider frontier issues and accelerate progress towards gender equality.
Earlier this year, the Council undertook a learning session on the role of technology in promoting gender equality. The discussion mapped out some key challenges in this area.
“Once, it was a rodeo day here and my son asked for money to go. But I didn’t have the money and told him to sell our farm’s bananas on the road instead. So, he took 50 bunches of bananas and sold them all in a few hours. Soon I started a banana business. The sales enabled me to expand my business to packed lunches for truckers. Over time, with the help of my family, the road administration, and my own investments, I started receiving invitations to make meals for college students and travelers.”
Angela, small-holder farmer and entrepreneur, São Paolo, Brazil.
Angela told us her story one afternoon as we ate the delicious lunch she had prepared for us at her rather humble roadside eatery in rural São Paulo, Brazil.
Her story was not only touching but also summed up the importance of entrepreneurial foresight and the power that collaboration holds in opening new doors for poor farming communities.
To help farmers earn more from the land and move onto a higher trajectory of growth, India has gradually shifted its policy focus to linking farmers to markets, as well as enabling them to diversify their production and add value to their produce.
Growing a business is not easy, and for women firm owners the challenges can be acute, especially when they are poor and run subsistence level firms. In developing countries, 22 percent of women discontinue their established businesses due to a lack of funds, and women are more likely than men to report exiting their businesses over finance problems, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Meanwhile, personal savings are a crucial source of entrepreneurial financing, and nearly 95 percent of entrepreneurs globally state that they used their own funds to start or scale up their businesses. Women, however, face unique constraints in accumulating savings to invest in growing their firms.
Progress is being made in closing energy access gaps in Africa and Asia. A big reason is falling renewable energy costs, which have made home solar systems, mini-grids and other distributed renewable energy (DRE) solutions a viable option for providing first-ever electricity in remote, rural areas far removed from electric grids.
For the first time ever, the number of people gaining access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa is outstripping population growth. More than 700,000 home solar systems have been installed in Kenya alone and another 240,000 poor, rural households are expected to be connected soon under a new $150 million off-grid project backed by the World Bank. In South Asia, progress has been ever faster.
Today, with support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), many of the challenges I witnessed have been resolved with the initiation of the second National Higher Education Strategic Plan, 2015–2019, under the HEDP.