Women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean are breaking through the walls (Credit: infoDev)
In the last few decades, women in the Caribbean have made impressive strides to break through the glass ceiling and obtain positions of power and responsibility. In governments throughout the region, we’ve seen women as national leaders including Janet Jagen (Guyana), Eugenia Charles (Dominica), Portia Simpson Miller (Jamaica) and Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad). In addition, the region’s women are attaining high levels of academic achievement, and now there are more female than male college graduates in total. While this is all extremely positive news for gender equality in the Caribbean, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels just yet. There is still one area of the playing field that remains to be leveled, and not just in the Caribbean, which is women succeeding as well as men as high growth entrepreneurs.
The future will be won or lost in the world’s cities. With half of humanity now living in cities – and with the breakneck pace of urbanization likely to concentrate two-thirds of the world’s population into metropolitan regions by 2050 – getting urbanization right is the over-arching challenge of this globalizing age.
Urban policy is now at the top of the news due to the bankruptcy filing of forlorn Detroit, which has long been a symbol of urban decay. Yet the urbanization drama goes far beyond the de-industrializing North: The destiny of cities worldwide will determine the success or failure of virtually every development priority – and it will be especially vital for job creation, innovation and productivity growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.
Local businesses can create jobs in Pakistan's conflict areas (Credit: Zerega, Flickr)
How can you effectively support areas shaken by years of regional instability? The Western border areas of Pakistan are one such region, where a 2009 insurgency and subsequent military operations in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) led to one of the worst crises in the country's history. More than 2 million people were forced to leave their homes and considerable damage was caused to physical and social infrastructure. The unprecedented floods of 2010 only made the situation worse.
How can countries create 600 million jobs for its citizens?
As the World Bank convenes its Spring Meetings in Washington this week to discuss the state of international development, the question on everyone’s mind is: How to restart growth and create jobs?
Job creation on an unprecedented scale is needed to avoid severe social dislocation: About 22 million jobs were lost worldwide during the global financial crisis – at a time when many developing countries face an explosion in their working-age population. According to the Bank’s “World Development Report 2013,” 600 million jobs need to be created in the next 15 years just to maintain current employment rates.
In geometry, three points define a plane. In journalism, three events establish a trend. In public policy, three strategy forums might not conclusively confirm a consensus – but a recent think-tank trifecta suggests that a dramatic change is taking shape in the policy community’s thinking about economic competitiveness.
Thrice in recent weeks, activist strategies to inspire innovation and growth have been the front-and-center topic in major policy conferences – suggesting that an energetic new Competitiveness Consensus, applicable to developing and developed countries alike, is emerging among economic thought-leaders.
Judging by the three forums, not just academic scholars, but policymakers and lawmakers, now seem eager to apply the lessons from a slew of analyses advocating industry-focused and productivity-driven growth strategies, taking pragmatic steps to invest in stronger competitiveness. In a global economy starved for growth and desperate for job creation, the focus on activist policies – including targeted interventions at the industry level – is relevant to countries large and small, developed and developing.
As David Francis pointed out in a recent blog, the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region showed some resilience to the heavy distortions of the recent financial crisis. Latin America’s market economy is working in a way where more productive businesses are able to survive, while less productive firms are exiting the market.
But how does this fit into the larger picture of the region’s private sector?
A partial answer to this question is that the region’s private sector is adding jobs. Especially in a period where the developed world faced severe challenges on job creation, the region succeeded in creating new jobs by almost five percent in both manufacturing and service sectors. This trend is widespread: service sector firms in all countries – as we covered in a recent note on firm performance – added jobs. And in only 5 of the region’s countries did manufacturers decrease the number of employees on their books.
The enormity of the global job-creation challenge is underscored in a comprehensive new analysis by the International Finance Corporation, which issued a wide-ranging Jobs Study at a recent IFC forum on the urgency of the unemployment crisis. More than 200 million people are now unemployed worldwide – with another 1.5 billion people only marginally employed, and with an additional 2 billion working-age adults neither working nor seeking a job.
The need for stronger and more sustainable job creation will intensify with the approach of a global demographic surge. More than 600 million people will enter the work force – just in the developing world – within the next 15 years. And that figure, quantifying the painful withering of human capital caused by the unemployment crisis doesn’t even count the job-growth needs in the crisis-stricken wealthy nations.
Like every other development institution, The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) is deeply concerned with how to create more and better jobs. There’s no question that jobs are the key issue in any discussion about ending poverty. The 60,000 poor people who participated in Deepa Narayan's Voices of the Poor study 13 years ago were right—jobs are the surest way out of poverty for people across the world.
Today, IFC publishes a report on the findings of a study about how jobs are created by the private sector. Given the private sector provides 90 per cent of jobs, the estimated 600 million that need to be created by 2020 will inevitably have to come from the private sector.