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Gender

Aqeela Asifi: Refugee and tireless champion for education

Yann Doignon's picture
Aqeela Asifi is the 2015 winner of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award, recognised for her indefatigable efforts to help girl refugees access education.
Aqeela Asifi. Credit: UNHCR

Aqeela Asifi is the 2015 winner of UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award, recognized for her indefatigable efforts to educate Afghan girl refugees. She was a guest panelist at the "Managing Displaced Populations—Lessons From Pakistan" discussion with President Jim Yong Kim during his two day visit to Pakistan last week.



Her car broke down during her long journey to Islamabad from Kot Chandana, a refugee village where she lives in the south-eastern Punjab province of Pakistan.

Tired she may be, and notwithstanding a panel discussion on the Afghan refugee situation still ahead of her, she has a story to tell and nothing will stop her.

Her quiet, almost shy demeanor belies her fierce determination: Aqeela Asifi is a refugee, teacher, champion of girl’s education, an inspiration to thousands of her students, and a 2015 winner of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award.

Her story is one of resilience against all odds.

Like hundreds of thousands of other Afghans, she was forced to flee Afghanistan in 1992 when civil war broke out in the country. She left everything behind: her family, her house, and a job as a teacher in Kabul, and ended up in Kot Chandana, a village in Pakistan, which then hosted nearly 180,000 other refugees. By the early 1990s, more than three million exiled Afghans had crossed Pakistan’s border, putting additional pressure on the country’s infrastructure and social services, notably health services and schools. What Asifi witnessed was a complete lack of learning facilities and opportunities for girls in her newfound community. “When I started living at a refugee camp I saw girls’ education was the most neglected area,” she says. “Girls were not even aware of education and its importance in their lives. They didn’t know anything about books, pencils, and it was then when I realized that this community needed my help.”
 
 

When urbanization is messy, students fall through the cracks

Mabruk Kabir's picture
Student in Urban Slum Learning Center
A student at an Urban Slum Learning Center
in Dhaka. Photo: Mabruk Kabir/World Bank

On a foggy winter morning in Dhaka, 41-year-old Jahid was sipping tea by a roadside stall.

“Life was very peaceful back in my village,” he reminisced, “but there was no work, so I moved to Dhaka. Even if I live in a slum, my children are better off here.”

Jahid is one of the 500,000 people that move to Dhaka city each year. Driven by the promise of economic opportunity as well as poverty in rural and coastal areas, it is estimated that half the population of Bangladesh will migrate to urban areas by 2030. 

The Rocky Road to Urbanization

Urbanization can be catalyst for growth. Density – the clustering of firms and workers – can drive productivity, innovation and job creation. It is the benefits of agglomeration that once drew the country’s most important industry – the ready-made garments sector to Dhaka city.

However, it is the costs from congestion that are now pushing factories away, mainly to peri-urban areas. Why are factory owners leaving?


For starters, the tide of new migrants has overwhelmed urban infrastructure, basic services, as well as the stock of affordable housing – eroding the both the livability and competitiveness of Dhaka city. A recent World Bank report described South Asia’s urbanization trajectory as “messy and hidden” – reflected in the large-scale proliferation of slums and urban sprawl.

Engaging men and boys in Pakistan to help end violence against women

Maria Beatriz Orlando's picture
Pakistani boys and girls
Pakistani boys and girls. Credit: The World Bank

Violence against women is a pervasive issue in Pakistan. The problem manifests itself in many ways, most of them extreme: honor killing, spousal abuse including marital rape, acid attacks, being burned by family members, attempted murder at the hands of husband or in-laws, or even driving a woman to suicide. According to the latest Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in the country, 32% of ever married women aged 15-49 years report having experienced physical violence at the hands of their spouses, and 1 in 10 women reported experiencing violence during pregnancy.

However, violence against women goes beyond physical intimate-partner violence. As an example, a study based on face-to-face interviews with 759 women in Karachi found that 82% of married women aged 25-60 years had experienced some form of psychological abuse. Another smaller survey of 176 married men 18 years or older in age and from different socio-economic backgrounds in Karachi found that 95% reported perpetrating some type of verbal abuse during their marital life. strict rules about how men and boys should behave, including protecting honor, and an adult male can never be questioned or ordered to do anything. A woman’s behavior is also strongly linked to honor. When a woman challenges her traditional role, or is perceived to step outside the lines, honor may be threatened. The drive to preserve honor can be so strong that it has resulted in some of the most heinous crimes against women ever committed in Pakistan. 
 

आइये, खाना पकाने के ग़लत तरीकों से छुटकारा पाएं

Anita Marangoly George's picture

और इन भाषाओं में: English | Español | Français | العربية | 中文

An Indian woman cooking. Photo credit: Romana Manpreet and Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves


यह एक सच्‍चाई है: लकड़ी, चारकोल, कोयले, गोबर के उपलों और फसल के बचे हुए हिस्‍सों सहित ठोस जलावन (सॉलिड फ्यूल) की खुली आग और पारंपरिक चूल्‍हों में खाना पकाने से घर के भीतर होने वाला वायु प्रदूषण दुनिया में, हृदय और फेफड़ों की बीमारी और सांस के संक्रमण के बाद मृत्‍यु का चौथा सबसे बड़ा कारण है।

लगभग 290 करोड़ लोग, जिनमें से ज्‍़यादातर महिलाएँ हैं, अभी भी गंदगी, धुआँ और कालिख- पैदा करने वाले चूल्‍हों और ठोस जलावन से खाना पकाती हें। हालत यह है कि इतने ज्‍़यादा लोग इन खतरनाक उपकरणों का इस्‍तेमाल कर रहे हैं जो भारत और चीन की कुल आबादी से भी ज्‍़यादा हैं।   

इसे बदलने की जरूरत है। और बदलाव हो रहा है जैसा कि मैंने पिछले सप्‍ताह में एक्‍रा, घाना में संपन्‍न क्‍लीन कुकिंग फोरम 2015 की कई बातचीतों को सुना। घाना के पेट्रोलियम मंत्री और महिला व विकास उपमंत्री की बात सुनकर, मुझे अहसास हुआ कि सर्वाधिक जरूरतमंद परिवारों को स्‍वच्‍छ चूल्‍हे व स्‍वच्‍छ ईंधन उपलब्‍ध कराने की गहरी इच्‍छा निश्चित रूप से यहाँ मौजूद है। लेकिन इच्‍छाओं को सच्‍चाई में बदलना एक चुनौती है। यह बात न केवल घाना में बल्कि दुनिया के कई हिस्‍सों के लिए भी सही है।

बाद में मैंने इस बारे में काफी सोचा खास तौर पर जब हमने पेरिस में होने वाली जलवायु परिवर्तन कॉन्‍फ्रेंस (सीओपी21) पर ध्‍यान दिया जहाँ दुनिया के नेता जलवायु परिवर्तन के दुष्‍प्रभाव कम करने के वैश्विक समझौते पर सहमति बनाने के लिए इकट्ठा होंगे। उस लक्ष्‍य तक पहुंचने की एक महत्‍वपूर्ण कुंजी ऊर्जा के स्‍वच्‍छ स्रोतों को अपनाना भी है। इस लिहाज से, संयुक्‍त राष्‍ट्र संघ का सस्‍टेनेबल एनर्जी गोल (एसडीजी7) का एक मकसद - किफायती, भरोसेमंद, वहनीय (सस्‍टेनेब‌िल) और आधुनिक ऊर्जा तक सभी की पहुंच सुनिश्‍च‌ित करना - यह भी है कि ऐसे 290 करोड़ लोगों तक खाना पकाने के स्‍वच्‍छ समाधान पहुंचाएँ जाएँ, जो आज उनके पास नहीं हैं।  

In Bhutan, chickens lay a foundation for prosperity

Deepa Rai's picture
Dechen inside her house in Bhutan
Dechen inside her house in Bhutan. Credit: World Bank

Dechen, a shy, soft- spoken, 31 year-old divorcee, unexpectedly lights up when I enquire about her poultry farm. A single mother of three children (aged 11, 6 and 3), she has strong reasons to feel good about what she does. It’s her sole responsibility to take care of her family from the income generated by the farm.

Dechen’s farm is a 15-minute uphill trek from a motorable road in Langthel village in the Trongsa district nested in central Bhutan. It is approximately a 10-hour drive on winding roads from the capital city, Thimphu.

Despite the remoteness of the village, Dechen is doing well for herself. She has already earned a Ngultrum (Nu) 45,000 (US $684) net profit since she started her poultry farm a year and a half ago. Having her own – and successful -- business has made her more self-confident and determined.

And she has even bigger dreams.

Look around Nepal. What do you see?

Trishna Thapa's picture

Amidst all the hardships of daily life, what are the things that inspire you, give you hope and make you believe in a better tomorrow?

That is the question we asked when we invited people to share with us photographs of people, places and actions which inspired them and gave them hope for a better future for Nepal.

The results were incredible. We received over 200 photographs from across Nepal. Photographs which were not only beautiful but which also carried strong messages of the importance of education, agriculture, heritage conservation, empowerment of women and many more.

Look Around You. What do you see?
Look Around You. What do you see?

Look Around You. What do you see? That is the question we asked when we invited people to share with us photographs of people, places and actions which inspired them and gave them hope for a better future for Nepal. Here are some of the ones that touched our hearts. Learn more: //wrld.bg/TYkXt

Posted by World Bank Nepal on Wednesday, October 28, 2015
A selection of our favorite photographs.


These photographs showcase the beauty of Nepal and the resilience of the Nepali people; they show that despite the toughest of challenges, there is always hope, and always time for a smile.

The winning photograph was by 28-year-old software developer Rasik Maharjan whose beautiful photograph depicted a spontaneous moment between a brother and sister. Describing the photograph he said –

“While visiting Pokhara, I saw a little girl in a purple dress on the edge of Phewa Lake, She seemed to be fascinated by the wild water flowers. A boy, her brother, merely 7 years old, jumped into the lake. The little girl was pointing at the wild flower and without hesitation the boy picked it up and began swimming towards his sister. He gave the flower to his sister, while she gave him an innocent smile… The love between a sister and a brother... No love can compare.”



To see more photos and their captions, please visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WorldBankNepal

Two young Indian girls blog about their interaction with Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Apoorva Devanshi's picture

 Sri Mulyani Indrawati speaking to the students at MNIT, India
“India has the maximum number of young people and these young people will enter the labor market in the next two decades.” These words by the World Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati at the Malaviya National Institute of Technology campus, Jaipur, on September 23, 2015, had all of us listening with rapt attention.

4,100 Pakistanis share their aspirations — and ambitions — for their country

Yann Doignon's picture
Pakistan: Window of opportunity

​Economic and social development should not be left to economists and specialists only.

This message is manifested in “Window of Opportunity,” a video highlighting the ambitions and goals of the World Bank’s 2015-19 Country Partnership Strategy in Pakistan.  
 
Truck drivers, entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers and thousands of other citizens from Pakistan shared their ideas and helped identify opportunities and challenges to guide future policies and action areas.
 
These individuals come from a myriad different backgrounds but are united by a common drive to open up windows of opportunities for Pakistan.

What will it take to realize Pakistan’s potential?

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Sri Mulyani Indrawati meeting beneficiaries
Meeting with beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme in Lahore, Pakistan.

As Pakistan readies to celebrate its independence day, we can all feel satisfied about progress in restoring macroeconomic stability, but should also realise that the country can and should do much better. Pakistan has many assets, of which it can make better use — from its vast water and river endowment, to its coastline and cities, to its natural resources. And there are upsides: a growing middle class, a lively informal economy and a strong influx of remittances. Pakistan can also be proud of the first peaceful transfer of power between two civilian governments. But to reach its full potential, Pakistan needs to focus on two critical areas, both obvious and urgent. It needs to ensure that its people have the means to fully participate in and contribute to the economy. And it needs to integrate itself more, globally and regionally.

The first challenge is demographic. As a result of rapid population growth, 1.5 million youngsters reach the working age each year. The question is, will the private sector be able to provide the jobs they need and want? And will the youth have the skills to get good jobs? Pakistan must do far better in education. Primary school net enrollment is about 57 per cent, well below other South Asian countries. Enrollment drops by half in middle school, with much lower levels for girls and children from poor families. This is not a good foundation to build on.

It is not surprising then that Pakistan also struggles to give all its citizens the opportunity to participate in building better lives for themselves. Only 25 per cent of women participate in the labour force, compared to 50 and 80 per cent in most developing countries. Women and girls deserve better. Research shows that girls with little or no education are far more likely to be married as children, suffer domestic violence, and live in poverty. This harms not only them, but also their children, their communities and the economy. Greater gender equality can enhance productivity and improve development outcomes for the next generation. It is smart economics.

Pakistan has taken steps to empower women. The Benazir Income Support Program, supported by the World Bank, has provided millions of women with national ID cards and makes direct payments to them, strengthening their ability to take decisions and move out of poverty.

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