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We Asked World Bank Staffers How They Help Women. Here Are Their Moving and Inspiring Responses

Elizabeth Howton's picture

In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked women who work at the World Bank Group one simple question: "How will ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity empower women around the world?" Here’s a sampling from World Bank women around the world.

I saw firsthand how something as simple as a gas connection could transform lives.  A mother of five in Colombia told me – with tears in her eyes – how her life, and that of her family, had improved. Her children were healthier with fewer respiratory illnesses. She could cook safely and start her own business selling food outside her house.

– Carmen Nonay, program manager, Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid
If you are a poor woman, you are not allowed to make decisions about your life and the future of your children. You do not even think about such big things under the daily pressure. Ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity will allow women to get access to their basic human rights, transform their communities and contribute to changing the world.
– Maria V. Handal, office manager, Yemen
In many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, women are outpacing men in enrollment at universities. In terms of learning outcomes, girls in the region outperform boys in mathematics. And yet, these investments in human capital remain largely untapped. Women can help boost prosperity in the region if their productive potential is harnessed and barriers to their economic participation are reduced.
– Tara Vishwanath, lead economist

Women won't become the target of men's anger, which will certainly create a peaceful family life. They can raise their children without fear of lacking of food and education. These children will no doubt shape a peaceful future generation.
– Nina Herawati, program assistant, Indonesia

I recently had the opportunity to visit an energy efficiency project in Mexico and a transportation project in Colombia supported by our World Bank Green Bonds and saw how an energy-efficient refrigerator helped an elderly woman in Mexico save on her electricity bill, and a modern bus transportation system in Bogota gave young mothers and families a safe and affordable means to get to school and work, all while helping to protect the climate.
– Heike Reichelt, head of investor relations and new products
In addition to all the hardships of being poor, women experience greater time poverty. When development projects are properly designed, they can help women spend their time on more productive uses, with positive impacts on their families.
– Tania Lozansky, senior manager, Hong Kong

Poverty, in many instances, breeds religious fanaticism and violence – factors that decrease women’s rights and limit their contribution to society. As a woman from the Middle East, I am proud of the Bank’s twin goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity, which will contribute to reducing fanaticism and violence in my region and furthering women’s rights to education, work, and economic independence.
– Nada Hamadeh, senior statistician
When I visited a small women's organization in rural Uganda, I was mesmerized by the entrepreneurial spirit of these women to productively invest the proceeds from salt mining activities. The ultimate goal for many of these women was to be economically independent to provide a better life and education for their children.
– Jutta Kern, senior country officer, Latin America and the Caribbean
Ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity is a big dream for many poor people living below the poverty line in a country like the Philippines. Personally, I wish that those living beyond their means could get health care and maintain their dignity without begging for money to cover for health costs. Filipinos highly regard education, and as mothers, their dream is to save money to have a decent education for their children.
– Maria Liberty M. Cardenas, senior executive assistant
I would know for certain that the confident young girls I have met in Kenya, India, Mexico, and other parts of the world have the very same opportunities and access to quality education as their brothers and the same chance as anybody else to someday become the leaders of their countries. The hard-working and resilient women that I met in Africa I hope will have a normal life expectancy, because maternal health care is accessible to them. It will be a world without conflict over resources being fought on the bodies of women and the souls of children.
– Anne-Marie Leroy, senior vice president and general counsel
To me, it means that in my community, there will not be a need to choose between the education of boys and girls, because there will be enough resources to give every child an education.
– Christine Makori, senior counsel

The countries I work on are aging rapidly, and most of the elderly population is female.  By promoting shared prosperity, we not only help women have fulfilling working lives, we help them be comfortable in old age.   
– Mamta Murthi, country director, Central Europe and the Baltic countries
As women become more informed and mobile, they will influence the developing world more and more. Especially, I hope, as natural born peacemakers, women will help to keep the world at peace.
– Elena G. Gontcharova, program assistant

Women comprise more than 50% of the world's population but own only 1% of the world's wealth, according to the United Nations Development Program. Women are the primary caregivers, yet most cannot access a bank loan, because they have insecure jobs and limited or no access to property rights. Ending poverty would turn around the destinies of women as well as that of their families, villages, cities, nations, and the world!
– Neccah Mary Majisu, program assistant, Kenya


Submitted by julie on

Quite interesting not to see a single MAN World Bank staffer interviewed on how they help women... What are we to conclude? The idea that it is only a woman's issue? It is perceived to be a feminist issue? No man is interested in helping women? There are MEN Bank staffers who are also helping women and it is doing a disservice to the gender mainstreaming agenda not to include a man's perspective. Really not sure but definitely disappointed to see this biased sample.

Submitted by Angela on

Hi Julie, We actually had 111 responses from across the World Bank Group, including from male staff. These few responses are just a sample to represent some of the facets of our work around the world and some of the submissions received.

Submitted by Lucía Castro on

From my point of view, the fact that only women participate actively in the gender activities is that they (the activities) are organised only taking into account the goal, which is the generate and promote the women rights, but not the target group. People (women and men) generally think that this sort of activities are only addressed to women as we are the sufferers of the gender injustices. However, it is a must to change that way of thinking. Men should be involved in gender activities. Men' ideas and overviews are also important, as they belong to the society where we have to live and interact. The analysis of the situation must be done from the most diverse actors and factors: women and men, rich and poor, young and elder, educated or uneducated, etc. So, Men should be DIRECTLY INVITED to comment, to participate, to critic,...They must feel that their opinions also are taken into account and that women do not want to attack them. E.g. A female staff do not want to reduce the salary of her male colleague when she is claiming a raising; she only wants to be at the same level of her male colleague and have the same opportunities than her colleague. Men should be aware of that and, to get it, men should be more acctive in our activities. Let's organise our activities also focusing on this aspect. Let's open the doors to men. Let's men help us. The gender equality means inclusion not exclusion. Let's give each party its role in a equal and inclusive environment.

Submitted by Reem on

Hi, I am an engineer I have MSc in water and environmental engineering and I have 17 yrs experience, but now I am jobless because there is no secure in the work contracts here in Palestine!!!!
I hope to find a suitable job which meet with my skills and qualifications.

Submitted by Genevieve Maria Dutta on

I believe that as women are given basic education, we will see greater women's participation and leadership. I see women rallying together to end violence against them. By engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes, the world will be a more peaceful place to live in. Also by empowering women, we will see a huge enhancement in women's economic empowerment as a whole; and by reducing poverty we will see more gender equality central to national development, planning and budgeting. Remember - educating a girl/woman, means educating a family. So, strive on women! Lets all work together, reaching out to our less priviledged sistren, through our individual efforts, motivating them to plod on tirelessly towards a prosperous, safe future, filled with fearlessness and positivity.

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