This April marks the first anniversary of the World Bank’s Education Sector Strategy 2020, Learning for All: Investing in People’s Knowledge and Skills to Promote Development. Why Learning for All?
Can Africa claim the 21st century? When the World Bank’s Africa department published this book in April 2000, most observers were doubtful that African countries would ever be in a position to become emerging markets. That year, The Economist called Africa “The hopeless continent” and global attention was focused mainly on Africa’s problems: HIV/Aids in Southern Africa; the relentless war in Somalia; and, droughts in the Sahel—which gave the pessimists plenty of ammunition.
But over the last several years, something remarkable has happened: Africa’s fragile and conflict-affected countries remain a major development challenge, but besides these, a Stable Africa has emerged. Most of this Stable Africa has experienced continued high growth for a decade, and major improvements in social indicators. Africa is becoming an investment destination, and there is hardly a week which goes by without a major investor dropping by my office, to discuss the region’s economic fundamentals.
How has Africa changed over the last decades?
Leveraging Technology and Partnerships to Promote Equity in South Asia
Wednesday, April 18 at 9:00AM
The Next South Asia Regional Flagship on equity and development (March 2013) will feature an eBook which will combine interactive multimedia as a part of the World Bank Open Data and Open Knowledge initiatives. This signals a new era in development analysis is produced and shared.
Please RSVP to Alison at email@example.com by Tuesday, April 17th to attend.
Twitter hashtag: #wbequity
Breaking Down Barriers: A New Dawn on Trade and Regional Cooperation in South Asia
Thursday, April 19 at 3:00PM
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.
Let me start by sharing a telling anecdote: “At her first job in Tokyo in the 1970s, Ms Yukako Uchinaga hid in the ladies' room every day at 8pm while an inspector made sure all female employees had gone home. Then she came out and put in more hours. "My boss used to say, 'I don't want to be put in jail'," said Ms Uchinaga … referring to a labor law that capped women's overtime at two hours a day. "I complained it was unfair, like being in a 100-metre race with my hands and feet tied while all my male colleagues ran freely.”
According to Bloomberg, women occupy just 1 in 70 management positions at Japanese companies.
And according to the World Bank Group's Enterprise Surveys, which collect firm level data across 125 economies, only every fifth firm has a female as top manager. Even top tier Fortune 500 companies are not so balanced in gender parity with only 18 out of 500, or 4 % of their top executives being female.
Women don’t have enough time to climb the corporate ladder.
According to the World Bank Group’s report Women, Business and the Law 2012 the retirement age for women comes earlier than for men in 52 economies (out of 141 covered). But, there is no economy, where the retirement age for men is earlier than for women. Moreover, according to the same report women cannot work the same night hours as men in 44 economies. Meanwhile, the average number of days mandated by law for maternity leave is 106, while the average number of days mandated for paternity leave is only 3. The Math is self-evident.
Saleha Begum was determined. Over the last couple of years, a number of children in her village had tragically died, their families left behind shocked and shattered. Memories were all that remained of these young lives cut short, and Begum was now determined to do her bit to stop the untimely deaths and accidents caused by the proximity of a highway to a community school.
We had arrived at Baishakanda Union Parishad in Dhamrai just before the local community meeting started. (Union Parishads are the lowest tier of local government in Bangladesh.) Begum had already taken her place among men and women from her village. A number of women threw anxious looks toward her. That day, Begum was going to play a vital role in advancing their agenda.
I recently attended a community paralegal training on promoting accountability in health care delivery in Makeni, Sierra Leone. During the training, a community paralegal named Elizabeth Massalay talked about bringing her niece to a clinic in Moyamba district to receive immunizations that the government provides free of charge thanks to the Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI), which offers free health services to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under five. Mothers queued for free immunizations, painting a hopeful picture for a country that ranks 180 out of 187 in the 2011 Human Development Index and where almost one in three children die before reaching the age of five.
However, against this promising backdrop, Elizabeth saw that the nurse was demanding six cups of rice from each mother before providing the immunization. Elizabeth was witnessing how breakdowns within state institutions—including absent nurses, improper user fees, and “leakage” of up to 30% of FHCI drugs (according to government and UNICEF statistics)—undermine health care delivery. Responding to such breakdowns requires an understanding of health policy and regulations—what the state must provide and to whom—and knowing where and how to apply pressure when the state fails to do so.
At a screening at the World Bank of Miss Representation on March 8, I had the opportunity to interview the film's director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. What struck me during the interview was Newsom's firm commitment to changing how women and girls are portrayed in the mainstream media and her use of social media to instigate a conversation and advocate for change. Newsom also mentions that she wants to build a bridge to men and boys, who are a big part of the solution and talks about an upcoming project aimed at men and boys. Hope the interview provides some insights and provokes discussion.
Maya Brahmam's Interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom