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Arab reality show tests humanity and empathy

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español


It’s Ramadan and the Arabic TV channels are festooned with shows that vary from recurring popular soap operas, cooking and competition shows — but one has become the talk of the town.

Al Sadma, or The Shock, the Arabic version of the popular American show What Would You Do, is a reality TV prank show. But it’s not like many other tasteless reality shows that invoke fright and even terror, it is a show that invokes morality and examines humanity.

Caring about employer-supported childcare: Good for business, good for development

Carmen Niethammer's picture

It is not often that I get to reflect on my own early childhood experience: Some 40 years ago, I attended a public kindergarten in a small town in Germany. My mother would take me there on her blue bike at 7 a.m., I would spend the morning with eight other children my age, and at around 1 p.m., she would pick me up. Many of my friends and colleagues had similar early childhood experiences.
 
Considering that the potential benefits from supporting early childhood development range from healthy development to greater capacity to learn while in school and increased productivity in adulthood, I consider myself very lucky. Across the world, nearly half of all three- to six-year-olds (159 million children) are deprived of access to pre-primary education (UIS, 2012). Evidence from both developed and developing countries suggests that an additional dollar invested in high-quality preschool programs will yield a return of anywhere between US$6 and US$17.
 
More broadly speaking, a new study by ITUC shows that investment in the care economy of 2 percent of GDP in just seven developed countries would create more than 21 million jobs and help countries overcome the twin challenges of aging populations and economic stagnation.  So the development case for investing in childcare is clear. What about the business case?

Jobs: The fastest road out of poverty

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français | 中文

A worker at the E-Power plant in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

For the first time in history, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has fallen below 10%. The world has never been as ambitious about development as it is today. After adopting the Sustainable Development Goals and signing the Paris climate deal at the end of 2015, the global community is now looking into the best and most effective ways of reaching these milestones. In this five-part series, I will discuss what the World Bank Group is doing and what we are planning to do in key areas that are critical for ending poverty by 2030:
 good governance, gender equality, conflict and fragility, preventing and adapting to climate change, and, finally, creating jobs.

Good jobs are the surest pathway out of poverty. Research shows that rising wages account for 30 to 50% of the drop in poverty over the last decade. But today, more than 200 million people worldwide are unemployed and looking for work — and many of them are young and/or female. A staggering 2 billion adults, mostly women, remain outside the workforce altogether. In addition, too many people are working in low-paying, low-skilled jobs that contribute little to economic growth. Therefore, to end poverty and promote shared prosperity, we will need not just more jobs, but better jobs that employ workers from all walks of society.

How can the World Bank support LGBTI inclusion?

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Despite recent advances, people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Intersex (LGBTI) continue to face widespread exclusion.
 
Stigmatization and discrimination often have a direct impact on the lives of LGBTI people, but also affect economies and societies at large: when entire groups are left behind - including due to sexual orientation or gender identity - everyone loses out on their skills and productivity.
 
On this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), Ede Ijjasz and Maninder Gill detail some of the actions taken by the World Bank to make sure LGBTI people can be fully integrated into global development.

5 Arab women who are breaking down stereotypes and building their countries

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français

There is a horrible old saying in some Arab countries: Women belong to their homes and husbands only. They shouldn’t be educated, work, or have an opinion. This belief, unfortunately, still dominates some areas in the Arab world. But modern, educated, and strong-willed Arab women and men find this saying backward and unfitting.

Women are 49.7% of about 345.5 million people in the Middle East and North Africa region. Some in the West think of these women as zipped up in a tent in the desert, probably beaten up by their husbands, a stereotype many of today’s Arab women fight and prove wrong.

Yes, there are still many barriers remaining in the way of closing the gender gap in the Arab world, but many advances have been made in education, politics, entrepreneurship, labor, and health. Arab women today are entrepreneurs, leaders, activists, educators, Nobel Prize winners, and much more. They are reshaping their societies and building a better road to gender equality and girl empowerment for generations to come.

Here are some of many stories on how women from different Arab countries are reshaping their societies and fighting gender inequality:

Mineral wealth for human development: The Texas way

Patricio V. Marquez's picture
A student with University of Texas at Austin Tower in the background. © qingwa/iStock


As countries look to domestic resources to help meet the ambitious development agenda laid out in 2015, there is value in looking at international experiences where mineral wealth has become a dedicated revenue stream for financing development efforts, particularly for investing in human capital (via public health or education).

The future is in her hands

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español


She is described as having strong ideas. A spirited and energetic girl who dreams of a big future, Shams helps children and encourages them to learn and play.

But Shams is not a real child. She is a Muppet and one of the most popular fictional characters in the children’s show Iftah Ya Simisim, the Arabic version of the popular, long-running US children’s show Sesame Street, which was introduced in the Arab world in the 1980s.

How can we reduce the impact of natural disasters on schools?

Vica Rosario Bogaerts's picture
Making schools resilient to the impact of disasters is arguably a no-brainer. Who would ever disagree with the need to make sure children are safe when they’re in school? Nobody.

And yet, schools continue to be destroyed when disasters strike – putting children at risk and disrupting education.

Why? Simply put, countries face a number of technical challenges to make their schools resilient. And I saw it firsthand during a visit to Mozambique, where lack of capacity hampered the government’s efforts to build safer schools. A few years back the Ministry of Education introduced a new form of school construction, involving a pre-fabricated steel frame. While in theory this technique makes construction faster and structures more reliable in the event of a disaster, reality is more complicated. The skilled labor required to use the steel frames was not always available, sometimes resulting in delays and additional costs in remote areas.

Another common challenge relates to the availability of risk information needed to identify safe locations where new schools can be built. In Indonesia for example, local communities are typically in the lead when it comes to deciding where a school will be built. And if they are not aware of potential hazards, they will likely decide to build schools on marginal lands with low economic value which are often highly exposed to hazards, such as flooding and landslides.

But these technical challenges only tell part of the story. Things become more complex when we factor in political incentives. Population growth and progress towards universal primary and secondary education have put pressure on decision makers to step up the construction of new schools. Because success is often measured in terms of number of classrooms, quantity is sometimes favored over quality, skewing incentives toward unsafe building practices. Likewise, improving the safety of existing schools can be a costly investment, and therefore a difficult decision.

Brain resilience can be key to healthy aging

Dorota Chapko's picture
A man holds his 11-month-old granddaughter. Photo: Allison Kwesell / World Bank


In our previous blog post, we wrote about how getting a good head start in brain development builds the foundation of our cognitive abilities. It puts us in a path towards socio-economic success and makes us more resilient to aging and mid-life adversities. In this post, we’ll discuss how early-life experiences influence the development of socio-emotional abilities and of a more resilient brain, and how this new evidence can help development professionals design cost-effective policies that take into account a person’s human development during his/her lifetime.
 
Optimal brain development can in turn make healthy aging possible. As Jack Shonkoff and colleagues have put it: “Many adult diseases are, in fact, developmental disorders that begin early in life.”

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