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Empowering women toward peace and stability

Hartwig Schafer's picture
Chorty Tabo, 25, holds her son, Simon. She fled South Sudan a year ago. She is part of a women’s association, working together in a hair salon in Meri refugee site in the DRC. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse


More than 1.5 billion people worldwide live in areas plagued by violence and conflict. According to the UN, women in conflict-ridden countries are disproportionately affected. They are actively targeted as a tactic of war to humiliate, terrorize, punish, or forcibly displace them. In fact, women and girls are disproportionately exposed to sexual violence during conflict. And, as more men die, more women and families are left destitute. The World Bank Group is committed to doing more to prevent this cycle of violence against women, as set out in this IEG report.

Entrepreneurship is an important mechanism to help women rebuild their lives and dignity after conflict and during protracted conflict and crisis situations. Take the example of Chorty a war widow who successfully banded together with other war refugees from South Sudan to open a hair salon in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to the UNHCR story, the business is small, but the women are earning money to feed their children and take care of their families. These women are vital role models in their communities and give others hope to rebuild their lives.

The World Bank is hoping to encourage women entrepreneurs in similar settings. For example, in West Bank and Gaza, we are testing a development impact bond to support job creation for 2,000 women and youth. The bond gets private investors to invest their money upfront, and delivery organizations are engaged to ensure that the desired results – women getting jobs – are achieved. If the intervention works, investors get a return on their investment from “outcome funders” (donors).  
 
The International Finance Corporation (IFC)—a member of the World Bank Group—is working with the Bank of Palestine to increase the supply of capital to women-owned SMEs, develop tailored banking products, and  offer a “mini -MBA” that combines access to financial products with networking, mentoring, and business information for women entrepreneurs. These efforts have helped women double their revenues and profits, register businesses more successfully, and create jobs. 
 
And women face legal hurdles for business: 104 countries still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 countries have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. Reform is possible. For instance, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a new Family Code adopted in 2016 gives women the right to start businesses, open bank accounts, and register a company without their husband’s permission. It also raised the legal marriage age for girls from 15 to 18.
 
Women are powerful actors for peace and justice. For instance, in Northern Ireland, the Women’s Coalition secured language in the Good Friday Agreement on integrated education and mixed housing—items that were not brought to the table by the main parties to the conflict.
 
Since women are the main survivors of war, we need to help them “seed” the peace through helping them rebuild their lives.

Comments

Submitted by Ragothama Prasad on

Dear Hart, Thanks for the blog sharing WBG initiatives in conflict affected countries, especially for Women. WBG has come a long way since Bretton Woods era of focusing on infrastructure to social and sustainable developments.

Submitted by Helen Dominquez on

Many of the rural area people live in very bad circumstances and so not get the opportunity to develop themselves. Especially women don't get the opportunity to work and get their own income. So, NGO shammesh help such women so that they can earn the income and full fill their needs. To, save the humanity, one can take part in mission humanitaire ( http://www.mission-humanitaire-afrique.org ) and help such people to improve their condition.

Submitted by Kalange Okuro on

Women empowerment programs and projects is of great importance as women are contributors to nation building and maintenance of peace and justice in the communities. When woman are empowered by programs and projects to do business or get employed and look after their families, tough laws must be set to protect them because when woman become successful in whatever she does, she become vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment in her community. If they feel protected and safe in their community, they can be able to reach out to other woman and help them.

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