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Gender

Longreads: Women and Political Power, Developing Countries Turn to Each Other for Conservation, Skills Are the Test of Progress

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

The new Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum inspired tweets and stories all over the world, including this one in Bloomberg Businessweek highlighting the finding that women represent only 20% of elected officials.  Also check out the gender inequality data visualization in Slate.  Biodiversity and ecosystems popped up on Twitter during the UN biodiversity meeting in Hyderabad, India, in October. While developed countries doubled pledges for conservation, India also made headlines when it announced a $50 million grant to help developing countries preserve biodiversity. The move, along with other examples of recent conservation efforts by emerging countries, hints of a future in which larger developing economies “play a more active role in saving the environment – not just at home, but also abroad,” reports the New York Times blog, India Ink.  With global youth unemployment at critical levels, a new Education for All Global Monitoring Report finds that 20% of young people in developing countries don’t have enough education or skills for work.  Kwame Akyeampong, an Education for All senior policy analyst, looks at the situation for themost vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in his native Ghana in an Al Jazeera opinion piece.  Once available only to paid subscribers, academic research papers are now increasingly accessible through open access publishing, according to a story in The Guardian. “The exponential rise in open access publishing shows no sign of slowing down,” writes Stephen Curry, a professor of structural biology at Imperial College. 

Invest in nutrition to invest in the future?

Janneke Hartvig Blomberg's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Malnutrition has detrimental effects on a child's physical growth (stunting); it can also result in irreversible damage to their brain and mental development, and it increases their risk to illness and death. The biggest impact of malnutrition is seen in the first 1,000 days of life of a child's life - from the time of conception to the time they reach their second birthday.

For women, malnutrition increases risk during pregnancy and the delivery of low birth weight babies. Malnutrition is a serious issue in Tanzania as shown by the following statistics:

Beyond war and internal conflict: How should the World Bank support Iraq now? Have your say

Marie-Helene Bricknell's picture
        Kim Eun Yeul

As the Arab Spring swept through the region, Iraq was at war and fighting a homegrown insurgency. Since the war’s end, Iraq has had to pick up the pieces and come to terms with its sanctions and bloody sectarian conflict. How Iraq addresses these challenges in the medium term will have a long-term effect on its stability and development.

Getting healthcare to work better in Samburu County

Kavita Watsa's picture

As our sturdy Land Cruiser inched its way down a precipitous dirt track, trying to descend from a high ridge into the Rift Valley, I wondered what might happen if we had an accident here in the heart of Kenya’s remote Samburu County. Mobile signals had faded soon after we left the town of Maralal several hours before. We could have tried to walk back, but would have been very unlikely to make it before nightfall. Luckily, after a few mishaps and some serious jolting, we arrived at our destination in the valley—lonely Suyan manyata, whose distant circular outline we had seen from the ridge.

Talking to some of the women in the manyata, I realized that the ground that we had covered to get to them was nothing. We had done it in good health in a vehicle built for difficult terrain. As they told us what life was like in their village, my heart quailed at the thought of enduring a bumpy ride in a run-down van if one were pregnant or in labor with complications—if at all transport could be obtained. Just a few days ago, a child had died here of malaria, the women said. How did they usually get help, I asked. “We send our fastest runner 18 kilometers to the nearest dispensary,” said Ma Toraeli, a grandmother in the village. “From there someone comes to help us”. Health workers also visited the village from time to time, she said, to immunize babies and perform other routine checks.

Immunization seemed high on people’s minds in Samburu. Later that day, we visited Barsaloi, a larger village with its own government dispensary and another run by Catholic nuns. The two stood side by side, with a well-worn path between them. There I met another grandmother, Agnes, who had brought an infant girl, Salini, to be immunized, although her record showed that she was early and didn’t need this service yet. But while Stephen, the clinical officer at the government dispensary, was examining the baby and we were on the subject of immunization, the district head nurse showed us how vaccines were stored at the required temperature in the two-room government dispensary without power supply.

Why Vietnam needs its baby girls

Mette Frost Bertelsen's picture

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

Last week I read about Malala, the 14 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head inside her school bus as retaliation for her active engagement in promoting girls’ rights to education in Pakistan. The same day I was helping a friend edit some text for her photo series on very young girls around the world (some as young as 5 years old), who are forced to marry often much older men out of economic necessity and due to cultural practices.

I suppose on that day, it really hit me how lucky I am to be working on gender issues in a country such as Vietnam, which in many ways is considered a front runner among developing countries when it comes to gender equality, and where such atrocities usually would not happen (although underage marriage does still occur in some mountainous areas of the country).

There is however one major challenge to gender equality in Vietnam, where there is reason for growing concern: the skewed sex ratio at birth. In Vietnam, the latest figures from 2009 show that for every 100 girls born, 111 boys are born. When looking at the richest 20% of the population and the rates for couples’ third child, this number increases to 133 boys for 100 girls.

“A man needs one handshake, a woman needs 7 points of contact”

Angela Bekkers's picture

Credit; European Union/EDDThe social and economic challenges of the Middle East and Northern African (MENA) region are all very well-known: the region has the world’s highest general unemployment rate (10 per cent – versus a global average 6 per cent) and the lowest female labor participation (26 per cent in the MENA region versus 52 per cent on average in the rest of the world). But recently, there are signs that this is changing.

Take for example last month’s ‘pitching contest’ by young entrepreneurs at the ArabNet conference in Lebanon, where 40% of the pitches came from women – a much higher percentage than is typical at similar conferences in Europe. And there are testimonies by female entrepreneurs like May Habib, founder of the Dubai-based Arabic translation service Qordoba.com which uses a lot of freelance female workers in the region. She mentioned in a recent interview that the internet has transformed women's opportunities. "More flexible work options, freelance, home-based work, low capital requirements; you can see why starting a company on a small scale is a much more viable thing for women to do than get a corporate job”.

Is Pakistan’s microfinance sector serving women entrepreneurs?

The idea for looking into the issue of microfinance outreach to women in Pakistan had been of interest to the World Bank for some time.  Outreach of the microfinance sector to women borrowers had always been extremely low – hovering between 50 to 60 percent of borrowers.  Compared to the rest of the region, where we see outreach to women in the 90 percent range in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, it raised the question as to why similar targets could not be achieved in Pakistan.   We reviewed a number of  possible explanations, but none of them seemed satisfactory.  On top of that, Pakistan is probably one of the most progressive microfinance sectors in the World.  The central bank has developed the most enabling regulations possible, Pakistan continues to top the Economist Intelligence Unit  list of the most enabling regulatory environment, innovations in branchless banking and new modes of financial service delivery are being incubated here, and the microfinance network in Pakistan continues to be regarded as world class.  So, given all the positive attributes around the sector, why was it not possible to more effectively reach this important constituency? 

“Empowering women is smart economics”

Zia Morales's picture

As World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey said in her remarks at last Thursday’s event on women in the private sector, women make up nearly 50 percent of the world’s population. Despite this, they are only 40.8 percent of the formal global labor market.  This gap represents a vast economic potential that could have the power to create jobs, drive economic growth and transform the global economy as we currently know it—shaky, stagnant and according to some of the data, in recession.


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