Europe and Central Asia
By Mirjana Popovic and Vesna Kostic
Mar. 8: Working Women’s Day or Jobless Women’s Day in Serbia?
By Mirjana Popovic, Online Communications Producer
In the former Yugoslavia, where I was born, International Women’s Day used to celebrate respect and appreciation for women in society: mothers, wives, female colleagues – in this order.
What is it like in today’s Serbia? The glory of the holiday has faded and new challenges have arisen.
Emerging Europe and Central Asia (ECA) is an interesting region because what you expect is not always what exists. Since this is written in honor of International Women's Day, discussing women’s labor market participation seems appropriate. The standard indicator used for this is the “female labor force participation” (LFP) rate, which is the proportion of all women between 15-64 years who either work or are looking for work.
Since much of the region has a common socialist legacy, you would expect to see similar labor market behavior among women. However, the proportion of women who work ranges from a low of 42 percent in Bosnia and Herzegovina to 74 percent of adult women in Kazakhstan. And it wasn’t 20 years of social and economic transition that led to this divergence. Even in 1990, the range was about the same. The exception was Moldova which saw a 26 percentage point decline.
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Many resource-rich countries are looking to diversify their economies, in anticipation of the day their natural wealth runs out. Resource extraction is extremely costly and employs only a fraction of the workforce. After the recent turmoil in the Middle East, policy makers have begun focusing more on the need to create jobs, provide for inclusion, and increase public participation in government decision-making. There are several examples of countries that have used their resource wealth to share prosperity, including the United States, Norway, and Australia.
But is there a blueprint for diversification and economic prosperity?
On March 5, just before International Women’s Day, we mark the launch of On Norms and Agency: Conversations about Gender Equality with Women and Men in 20 Countries. This book is the result of an important partnership between the World Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation, and of vital qualitative work that accompanied the 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development.
Those whose voices we hear through this report—both men and women—emphasize a central point again and again: that the ability to make effective choices and exercise control over one’s life is a critical dimension of well-being.
At the World Bank, we see this book launch as an important foundation for new directions.
This morning, I had the honor of speaking to the UN Security Council about an increasingly dangerous threat facing cities and countries around the world, a threat that, more and more, is influencing everything that they and we do: climate change.
World Bank President Jim Kim is in Russia right now talking with G20 finance ministers about the same thing – the need to combat climate change. Every day, we’re hearing growing concerns from leaders around the world about climate change and its impact.
If we needed any reminder of the immediacy and the urgency of the situation, Australia Foreign Minister Bob Carr and our good friend President Tong of Kiribati spoke by video of the security implication of climate effects on the Pacific region.
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Here at the World Bank we believe that independent internal evaluation is central to strengthening our work. Rigorous, evidence-based evaluation informs the design of global programs and enhances the development impact of partner and country efforts.
The World Bank Group’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has undertaken a review of the implementation of the 2002 Forest Strategy. The strategy emphasized the positive developmental benefits of forest conservation and management, while strengthening environmental and social safeguards.
The report confirms that the World Bank’s forest work has:
- contributed substantially to positive environmental outcomes;
- successfully reduced deforestation when forest protected areas are designed and managed by people who live in and around them;
- improved livelihoods, especially through support for participatory forest management initiatives, which involve and empower local communities;
- advanced the rule of law in a sector plagued by patronage, corruption, and rent-seeking by increasing transparency and accountability and by putting environmental standards in place.
But to be most useful, an evaluation must meet a quality standard.
While we agree with some of IEG’s findings, we – and our Board - strongly disagree with others.
Can emerging markets make economic growth compatible with climate action? Can the trade-off between growth and rising emissions be influenced by policy?
For a country like Turkey – with the lowest carbon footprint in the OECD (around 5 tons per person in 2008), but also one of the highest rates of growth of carbon emissions over the past two decades – these are not idle questions. A recent talk with a senior Turkish policy maker about how Turkey is adjusting its policies to meet the challenge of growing green left me feeling optimistic about the role Turkey can play in this discussion. I believe that for Turkey, growing green is an opportunity. Let me explain why I think so:
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in January 18 on what it will take to shape the future of cities — and cut pollution, road deaths, commute times, and poverty.
A large part of the answer: greener, more efficient and cost-effective urban transportation that is designed to move people, not cars.
“We have to start looking at other ways to move people. Traffic does hurt your economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said at the 10th Annual Transforming Transportation conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ.
With 90 percent of city air pollution caused by vehicles, finding transportation solutions also will help confront emissions that drive climate change, Dr. Kim added.
Eleven of the less prosperous members of the European Union – Bulgaria, Croatia1, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia (EU11)—have remained attractive destinations for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The Czech Republic, Estonia, and Slovakia witnessed FDI levels in 2012 similar to pre-crisis levels. Poland and Bulgaria also experienced large gains in FDI in 2012.