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Social Development

How a silent revolution in rural Bihar is empowering women to be agents of change

Farah Zahir's picture


Women in Bihar, India
Women are agents of change in Bihar, India. Photo: World Bank 

Empowering women in a society is essentially a process of uplifting the economic, social and political status of women and the underprivileged. It involves building a society wherein women can breathe without the fear of oppression, exploitation, apprehension, discrimination, and a general feeling of ill-treatment that symbolized a woman in a traditional male-dominated society like the one in India.

With the implementation of gender quotas since India’s 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, the percentage of women in political activities at the local level has risen from 4-5% to about 35-40%. Reserving one-third of seats for women in the elected bodies of rural local governments in India has unleashed a silent revolution.

For the first time, rural women began to participate in local governance to improve their status and acquire a decisive say in matters crucial to their livelihoods. This decision to ensure the participation of women in local government is perhaps the best innovation in a grassroots democracy, contributing to improving the well-being of rural women.

Control over local government resources and the collective power of women have helped women discover their own self-respect and confidence. In the recent discourse on women empowerment in the 62nd session of the Commission on Status of Women, the government of India has said gender equality and emancipation of rural women is a key driver of inclusive growth.

Tackling a known unknown: How post-disaster aid can provide what people really need

Markus Kostner's picture
Photo: Patrick Barron (World Bank)

Within a few weeks of the disaster, the tents, half a dozen of them, were lined up along a creek where houses with bamboo walls and nipa roofs had once stood. They were brand new… and empty. They had been provided to survivors of Nargis, the cyclone that killed an estimated 140,000 people in the Ayeyarwady Delta of Myanmar in one night in 2008.
 
However, despite these provisions, the cyclone survivors preferred to stay in makeshift huts they had built on the other side of the village path with any materials they could find. The tents were too flimsy, they said, and could fly away if another storm kicked up.

Sometime thereafter, they packed the tents neatly and stored them with other items they had also received and never used: sleeping bags much too warm for the monsoon climate, and gasoline stoves where no gasoline was sold.

'Build and operate' increasingly common in social infrastructure

Simile Karasavidis's picture


Photo:  Northern Beaches Hospital | New South Wales Ministry of Health

The way that social infrastructure is being built and paid for is changing. New healthcare facilities, prisons, and public housing have long been constructed under public-private partnerships (PPPs), but the PPP model is now stretching into the operation of the facilities.

Called “operator-led PPPs”, this approach puts the private sector in charge not just of the construction of infrastructure but of the operation of services afterwards for a defined period. For instance, in a hospital PPP the private company would provide clinical services such as x-rays as well as the building. This is also known as an outcomes-based PPP.

This approach transfers operational risks from the state body to the private partner, but the state still retains oversight of the quality of service through key performance indicators, service criteria, and performance standards. Financial penalties are put in place for failure to meet the required standards.

Mongolia, despite a scattered population, works to make every voice heard

Amarbayasgalan Dorj's picture

With only 2 people per square kilometer, Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. While that can make public service delivery daunting, improving health and education outcomes is possible if we include citizens in the decision-making process.

The country is taking steps to ensure this: Its second Open Government Partnership National Action Plan outlines specific measures to improve transparency, public accountability and citizen participation. With the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the government is also working to mainstream social accountability to empower the poor and vulnerable segments of Mongolian society.

How is your life different from that of your parents?

Venkat Gopalakrishnan's picture
© You Ji/World Bank
© You Ji/World Bank


Yunus owns a fabric store in Blantyre, Malawi. The store was founded by his grandfather, who immigrated to Malawi in 1927, and has now been in his family for three generations. Business is good, Yunus said, but that the cost of essential services like electricity and water has gone up since his grandfather and father owned the store. Even so, he remains optimistic.
 
Marija Bosheva is a student at an agriculture and forestry vocational high school in Kavadarci, Macedonia. Like many high school students around the world, she takes daily lessons in history, math, biology, and chemistry. However, unlike many of her peers, she is also studying oenology — the art of making wine.
 
Are you carrying on a family tradition, like Yunus? Do you work or study in an entirely new field that didn’t exist when your parents were your age? How has life changed for you compared to your parents or grandparents when they were your age, and how do you see your children’s lives and possibilities compared to your own? Are you in the same position vis a vis your peers as your parents were vis a vis theirs?
 
Share your story, using the hashtag #InheritPossibility.

Bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan: Meet Asra Nadeem

Priya Chopra's picture
The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) is a technology focused conference that takes place annually in Peshawar, Pakistan.  As an introduction to some of our experts, we bring to you the third Speaker Spotlight featuring the young Vice President at DraperU, Asra Nadeem. The upcoming DYS is on April 27-28, 2018. Register now here
 
Asra Nadeem


Asra Nadeem (AN) heads up the entrepreneurial programs and partnerships at Draper University, a pre-accelerator for global startups tackling the world’s most intractable problems. She is also a Venture Partner at DraperU Ventures, an early stage venture fund. Apart from designing and delivering programs, she works directly with governments, universities and international incubators to establish local entrepreneurial hubs, investment opportunities and corporate innovation initiatives.

Before working at Draper University, Asra worked on product and market development for startups in the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia. She was the first female product manager in Pakistan for Rozee.pk, where she not only worked with the CEO to secure venture funding from DFJ but grew the product and company to 150+ employees.  She is a space technology enthusiast who reads avidly about space and the future of humanity.

Tell me a little about what you are working on now?  How did you get started?

Bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan: Meet Aurelie Salvaire

Priya Chopra's picture

The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) is a technology focused conference that takes place annually in Peshawar, Pakistan. In the lead up to the summit, we bring to you the first of our Speaker Spotlights featuring Aurélie Salvaire. The upcoming DYS is on April 27-28, 2018. Register now here.  

Aurelie Salvaire

Aurélie Salvaire (AS) is a French author and social entrepreneur passionate about gender and narratives. She has been working for the past 10 years in the social innovation field, collaborating with Oxfam, Ashoka, Unreasonable Institute and Impact Hub.  She is also a very active speaker and trainer, promoting greater diversity and shedding light on lingering stereotypes through her platform Shiftbalance.  She recently shot a 28 minutes documentary on masculinity in Pakistan called Maard Ban (Be a man).

Tell me a little about what you are working on now?  How did you get started?

AS: Majority of my activities is now on Shift balance – Our NGO was initially registered in Spain, but our activities are worldwide. We do lot of trainings and workshops mostly on leadership and empowerment for young girls around the world. 

We have been working mostly in Pakistan the last year with different schools, universities, and companies, teaching young girls about storytelling - how to tell their stories, how to be more confident in the public and how to believe in themselves.

I recently shot a documentary on masculinity called “Maard Ban” as a part of the “Be a Man” series.  Our book, “Balance the world”, published and designed in Pakistan, is an anthology of solutions to balance the world. The idea of transforming everybody into a balance maker is what drives me -  to be sure that everybody at their own level can contribute to gender equity.

What do you think is the future for youth in the tech industry?

AS: We know that 80% of the jobs will require technological skills.  We know that technology is shaping our future, so it’s extremely important that young people get involved in tech so that the technology in future is shaped for their needs.  For me, one of the great assets is that technology breaks hierarchies. 60% of the population is under 30 years old in Pakistan.  This makes them very accessible to technology and open to what is going around in the world, and they will shake the structures of power.

Bringing together the next generation of digital innovators in Pakistan: Meet Zaki Mahomed

Priya Chopra's picture

The Digital Youth Summit (DYS) is a technology focused conference that takes place annually in Peshawar, Pakistan. In the lead up to the summit, we bring to you the first of our Speaker Spotlights featuring Zaki Mahomed. The upcoming DYS is on April 27-28, 2018. Register now here.  



Zaki Mahomed (ZM) is founder & CEO at Pursuit, a new startup based in San Francisco. Pursuit helps people build the lives of their dreams through easy access to skilled immigration programs. Having lived in Karachi, Singapore, Toronto and San Francisco before turning 30 has given him a global perspective on the art and science of building great companies.

Tell me a little about what you are working on now?  How did you get started?

ZM: I recently founded and am the CEO of Pursuit. We help highly skilled immigrants access global job opportunities with companies that will sponsor their work visas. We want to live in a world where borders are not barriers to opportunities and employers can seamlessly hire perfect candidates from anywhere in the world.

I started Pursuit because I’ve lived and worked in 5 cities over my career. One of the most satisfying experiences of my career has been hiring immigrants who took a risk on my ideas and companies and moved their entire lives to join us. While fraught with risk, I’ve rarely regretted giving an opportunity to an immigrant and always gotten a committed and loyal worker in return. We want to make it easy for other businesses to be able to provide such opportunities to the type of talent they desperately need!

Specifically, through Pursuit, qualified skilled workers can apply for their immigrant visas and upon approval, get matched with vetted employers looking for their skills. Currently we work with Software Engineers and Developers and we primarily operate in Canada, which is our first market.

What do you think is the future for youth in the tech industry?

Removing the stigma of mental illness in India

Varalakshmi Vemuru's picture
A report on the economic burden of mental illness argues that depression and anxiety disorders cost the world nearly $1 trillion annually. Conversely, every dollar invested in mental health contributes $4 to the economy. Photo credit: TNMHP

April 7 marked the 70th anniversary of World Health Day. This was an opportunity for the global community to redouble its efforts to ensure that all people can improve their health, including their mental health.
 
When his father died, Gopi, a carpenter in rural Tamil Nadu, India was overwhelmed by an enormous mental and financial burden.

Gopi became depressed, left his job, and isolated himself.

As his condition worsened, Gopi’s two younger sisters dropped out from high school to take on farming jobs to support the family.

However, thanks to medicine, counseling, and livelihood support from the Mental Health Program (TNMHP), Gopi eventually rehabilitated himself and got back to carpentry a year later.

With time, he even took out a Rs. 20,000 loan to start his own carpentry business.

Gopi’s experience—and many others’—illustrate how mental health is integral to well-being.

The World Bank recognizes mental health as a key challenge to sustainable development.

A report on the economic burden of mental illness argues that depression and anxiety disorders cost the world nearly $1 trillion annually. Conversely, every dollar invested in mental health contributes $4 to the economy.

Accordingly, the World Bank-supported the Mental Health Program in the state of Tamil Nadu, India that incorporates best practices in mental health from around the world.

The project is an important instrument in addressing the magnitude of India’s mental health challenges, and provides a successful model for the implementation of the national mental health policy and improve mental health infrastructure and care in Indian states.

By closely involving the community, the project reduced stigma and prejudice attached to mental illness and empowered vulnerable people with mental disabilities to gain respect in their communities.  

People with mental disabilities are diagnosed and treated and provided livelihood support through vocational training, self-help groups, job cards, and identity cards to access social benefits.

Fiscal Transparency in the Arab World: Where is the money going?

Renaud Seligmann's picture


Continuing the dialogue and peer-to-peer exchange on the benefits and challenges to fiscal transparency is essential to sustaining the momentum for reform. The time for action is now — the Arab world has a chance to go from lagging to leading on fiscal transparency.

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