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Taking digital banking services to remote villages in north eastern India

Priti Kumar's picture
Ang Dolma Sherpa, an expert carpet weaver in West Sikkim is one of the 200-300 women weavers in the region who are benefiting from the project’s interventions
Ang Dolma Sherpa, an expert carpet weaver in West Sikkim is one of the 200-300 women weavers in the region who are benefiting from the project’s interventions. Photo: World Bank

Until six months ago, people in the remote corners of India’s Himalayan state of Sikkim had to travel long distances over the hillsides to do simple banking transactions.

When they did reach a bank, it was usually overcrowded and understaffed. This made it difficult for rural folk, unfamiliar with formal financial systems to deposit or withdraw money, let alone borrow to meet their needs.
 
Now change is in the air. Ever since the North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) - supported by the World Bank - helped banks in Sikkim’s western and southern districts engage local women self-help group (SHG) members as their business correspondents, people in these distant parts have been able to bank at their doorsteps.
 
While the concept is not new in India, the two correspondents - one for each district - have proved to be nothing short of a miracle for this far-flung region. They have fanned out across mountain villages, equipped with palm-sized micro-ATMs, biometric readers, and internet-connected thermal printers. Villagers can now deposit their money easily, earn interest, and withdraw whenever needed.
 
In the six months since the correspondents were first introduced, business has soared. “In November 2018, when we first began, I did about 160 transactions worth Rs.1.2 million. As awareness has grown, this has risen steadily, and in March 2019 I did over 260 transactions worth Rs. 2.4 million,” explained Lila Shilal, business correspondent for the IDBI Bank in West Sikkim’s Jorethang block.
 
Shilal has also benefitted in the process. She has started earning more than Rs.10,000 a month from the bank in transaction fees and commission and has used the amount to set herself up as an entrepreneur.
 
The project has introduced another financial service as well, this time at the bank itself. Here, bank sakhis - or female banker friends – help village folk and SHG members fill out forms and apply for loans.
 
This new cadre of women business correspondents and bank sakhis has not only benefitted local communities and given SHG members a new livelihood opportunity, it has also made life simpler for the region’s bankers.

Standing for women’s land and property rights in Kosovo

Albena Reshitaj's picture
 

Women’s property rights are an important development issue, not only for women’s empowerment but to also improve human capital outcomes for families – for example, improved children’s health and higher education outcomes.


In Kosovo, the World Bank-financed Real Estate Cadastre and Registration Project (RECAP) took on the issue of women’s property rights head on. Under the project, the implementing entity – the Kosovo Cadastre Agency (KCA) – reprogrammed the country’s land information system to produce gender-disaggregated property ownership data. The data revealed that women’s ownership was close to 12% in 2010 and increased to just under 17% by 2018. Together, the KCA and the Agency for Gender Equality created a program to register joint ownership of marital property between spouses free of charge.

Several public awareness activities helped raise the profile of the issue and advance the agenda of women’s property rights in Kosovo. The KCA continues its work on promoting women’s property rights, and such activities will be supported in the World Bank’s Real Estate Cadastre and Geospatial Information Project (REGIP).

Watch a video with Albena Reshitaj, Political Advisor to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and Aanchal Anand, Land Administration Specialist to learn more about Kosovo’s commitment to empowering women in decision-making and its efforts to promote women’s property rights nationwide.

Challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship

Charlotte Horore Bebga's picture
Charlotte Horore Bebga, IT professional and entrepreneur, leads a coding workshop for children at the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon.


Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where women are more likely than men to be entrepreneurs, according to a new World Bank report. Women are thus key stakeholders in the economic development of the continent, which is replete with boundless opportunities. Although there are increasing numbers of women involved in and benefiting from these opportunities, they still face many different kinds of problems and restrictions. I myself have experienced this in my career as a female entrepreneur.

Making Pakistan more equitable for all

Silvia Redaelli's picture
Between 2001 and 2015, approximately 32 million people were lifted out of poverty
Photo: World Bank

This blog is part of a series that discusses findings from the [email protected]: Shaping the Future report, which identifies the changes necessary for Pakistan to become a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100 years old in 2047. 

In recent years, Pakistan has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty. Estimates based on the national poverty line, which was set at Rs3,030.3 per adult equivalent per month based on 2013-14 prices, show a consistent decline over the past two decades.
 
Between 2001 and 2015, approximately 32 million people were lifted out of poverty and the poverty rate was more than halved, going from 64 percent in 2001 to 24pc in 2015. However, a lot is yet to be done.

Not only because 2015 estimates show that approximately one in four Pakistani still does not have enough money to satisfy basic needs, but – even more alarming – progress has been far from equal when looking across the provinces, districts, cities, and rural areas.
 
While poverty declined at a fast pace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and, to a lesser extent, in Punjab, progress was less positive in Sindh and Balochistan.
 
Within provinces, poverty has remained stubbornly high in Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh. Similarly, the pace of poverty reduction has been slower in rural areas compared to cities, where the risk of poverty is less than half compared to rural areas.

Inequalities in poverty levels and poverty reduction performance are compounded by substantial inequalities in access to and quality of basic services such as health, education, electricity, water, and sanitation.
 
Being born in one of the country’s lagging areas and/or in a poor family largely predetermines a child’s chances of escaping deprivation and realizing his or her full human capital potential in life.

How to Implicit Association Test?

Florence Kondylis's picture

How to do Implicit Association Test?
Implicit Association Tests (IATs) are being increasingly used in applied micro papers. While IATs can be found off-the-shelf, designing your own IAT may allow you to get at respondents’ implicit attitudes towards something more contextual. We added a custom IAT to a survey of commuters in Rio de Janeiro, and here we'll go over the practical steps involved. For our project, we wanted to measure male and female commuters’ implicit attitudes towards women riding the subway on the co-ed car relative to women riding the women’s-only car. The idea was to quantify the stigma women may face for not using gender-segregated spaces.

Empowering women entrepreneurs to achieve the SDGs

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture
© Photos courtesy of Vandana Suri (left) and Saida Yusupova (right).
© Photos courtesy of Vandana Suri (left) and Saida Yusupova (right).

Women are not just potential beneficiaries of efforts to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. They are also active participants in achieving them. That’s why we organized the SDGs and Her competition to highlight the efforts of women entrepreneurs to create jobs and help reach the global goals.
 
The 2030 Agenda cannot be realized without the participation of women, particularly those working in the private sector. Indeed, if women had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth could increase by $160 trillion—an average of $23,620 per person—in 141 countries studied by the World Bank.

Networking: the key to growth for women entrepreneurs

Affiong Williams's picture
Photo: ReelFruit


“It takes a village to raise a business” is my rendition of the popular proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a woman who has been building a dried fruit processing and distribution business for the past seven years in Nigeria, nothing has accelerated its growth- financially and otherwise - more than my growing network. A robust network builds the social capital that can lead to greater collaboration and credibility, funding and emotional support for female entrepreneurs.

Ways for Sri Lanka to fix its healthcare

Deepika Attygalle's picture
Ways for Sri Lanka to fix its healthcare
Nurses in Sri Lanka. Photo: World Bank

Today on World Health Day, we can say with confidence that Sri Lanka’s healthcare system has delivered on many of its promises.

This year’s focus on universal health care is a timely reminder that Sri Lanka is still reaping the benefits of far-thinking health policies implemented as early as the 1800s.  

Many of these measures were designed to address what were then considered the key challenges of previous centuries, such as high maternal and child mortality rates and infectious diseases that claimed the health and lives of thousands.
 
Successes in lowering maternal and child mortality rates and introducing effective vaccination programs have made Sri Lanka’s low-cost model one worth emulating in the rest of South Asia.  
 
Sri Lanka’s healthcare faces new challenges
 
However, we can no longer afford to rest on our laurels. Our policies and systems must now evolve to address the country’s urgent concerns.
 
The island must also now contend with a worrying rise in non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (CVD), ischemic heart disease and stroke, cancers, diabetes, and respiratory conditions such as asthma.
 
Fertility decline and increasing longevity have resulted in a demographic transition in Sri Lanka and this is taking place while the country is aspiring to become an upper middle-income country. 

Population projections show that the proportion of Sri Lankans above the age of 60 years will increase from 14 percent in 2017 to 22 percent by the year 2037.
 
With such a rapidly aging population in Sri Lanka, it is imperative for policymakers to ensure that social and economic institutions in the country are ready to face the health challenges and social consequences ahead.
 
In response, Sri Lanka is undertaking an ambitious agenda that will strengthen and expand primary healthcare services from the ground up. Documented in Re-Organizing Primary Healthcare in Sri Lanka, preserving our progress preparing our future”   this approach is backed by strong evidence.

The report captures the findings of wide-ranging conversations among hundreds of stakeholders from every level of the country’s healthcare system.

Facilitated by the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, and supported by the World Bank, the report makes a case for why, and how, Sri Lanka must re-imagine its primary healthcare systems in order to attain the goals of universal healthcare. 

Should women get a job? “Yes...but” say Pakistani men

Saman Amir's picture
A large number of Pakistani women waiting to get relief money for her own business work at Lahore, Pakistan.
Pakistani women in Lahore, Pakistan. Photo: A M Syed, Shutterstock

 
This blog is part of a series examining women’s economic empowerment in South Asia.

In patriarchal societies—as in most of Pakistan—men exert much influence over the lives of their female relatives and almost always have exclusive control over household income.
 
Having a supportive father or husband is therefore critical for women and determines their choices and work opportunities, especially outside the home.

Conversely, men reluctant to see women in the workplace can derail progress toward greater participation of women in the labor force.
 
As part of the Women in the Workforce study, we interviewed a purposively selected group of men in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, and Peshawar on their thoughts on women’s work outside the home.[1]
 
Despite the constraints of a purposive sampling technique, a few broad themes emerged from these interviews that can be relevant to anyone advocating for women’s economic empowerment.
 
As anywhere in the world, men’s attitudes toward women’s work were varied. 
 
Some men we spoke to expressed support for women’s work for economic gain.
 
The most common reason was the urgent need for a double income to maintain the household’s living standards in a fast-changing economy.

More educated, less paid: what’s behind the gender gap in Mauritius?

Marco Ranzani's picture


Today, the gender gap in education in middle and high-income countries has mostly disappeared. In some countries, girls outstrip boys in schooling outcomes, yet women earn about 16% less money per hour worked than men (ILO 2018).

Mauritius is no exception. According to data from 2016, out of a student population of 33,269 in tertiary education, 56.6% are female and 43.4% male (Tertiary Education Commission 2017). And yet, the high achievements of girls and young women in school are not carrying over to employment opportunities. The labor force participation rate of women is 57% compared with 88% for men. In the private sector, a Mauritian woman makes only $0.72 cents to a dollar made by men.


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