Europe and Central Asia
Across European countries, women continue to earn less than men. Looking at data for full-time working women across 30 countries, we find that women would have needed an average raise of 19 percent of their hourly wage to match male wages. Take France, for example, where the gap is close to the regional average: this would mean going from 584 Euros to 697 Euros for a 40-hour work week. In fact, in some countries the gap was higher, reaching 1/3rd of women's salaries in 2015 (see Figure 1). However, the lowest observed gaps are not found in Scandinavia, as you might expect, but in Croatia, Greece, and Belgium, where women would require a 12% wage increase to fill the gap. And these gaps have persisted over time. Over a five-year period, the gap decreased in only 10 of the 30 European countries we looked at. The most notable decreases were in Estonia (10 percentage points), the Slovak Republic (5 percentage points), and Switzerland (7 percentage points). For others, the gap has increased, particularly in Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and France, where the gap has doubled, while in some Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway) and Latvia, the gap has remained relatively constant.
In the first phase, before I came here, I heard the stereotypes about Belarus’s reputation, the simple clichés spread about by journalists too lazy to recognize the country’s complexity. You know them as well as me: “the last dictatorship in Europe”, “the last remnant of the Soviet Union”, the republic of potatoes, the land of grey buildings and grey skies.
This was not always the case.
Photo: Aleksejs Bergmanis | Pexels Creative Commons
Last week, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) published a report providing new, relevant evidence on public-private partnerships (PPPs). It addresses a small sample of PPP transactions, many of which were concluded in a period of financial crisis. Nevertheless, .
Photo: David Lawrence / World Bank Group
One September afternoon, my boss, Pankaj Gupta, popped his head into my office. He had some ideas about how the novel use of guarantees might help solve a type of problem we had not faced before. The Energy and Extractives Global Practice had received a request from Ukraine. The problem was the country was heading into the 2014/15 winter with a large gas shortfall.
These were not easy times for Ukraine, which was in the throes of armed conflict on its Eastern border. With an economy in turmoil, the credit rating agency, Standard & Poor's, had dropped Ukraine's credit rating two notches in the last year. The rating now languished at CCC, or very speculative and non-investment grade. This made finance, the life-blood of service delivery, difficult to access and expensive.
In 2005, Wayne Fromm, a Canadian inventor, filed for US patent # 7,684,694. Today, Fromm’s invention is known around the globe as a ‘selfie stick.’ Although this invention is now synonymous with cellphones, it had its film debut nearly fifty years ago, as a prop in a 1969 sci-fi film called “I killed Einstein, Gentlemen.”
In this case, it took almost five decades for technology to finally meet people’s imagination. In the same 1960s, expectations were that flying cars would be the norm by 2000. In 2000, these expectations had not materialized and flying cars seemed again the domain of science-fiction. Yet, today they are becoming reality.
Millions of children around the world are prevented from reaching their full developmental potential because of poor environment and nutrition. In the more extreme cases, these children face stunting — a condition that arises when children grow much less than is expected for their age.
In 2016, an estimated 155 million kids – about one quarter of all young children worldwide – were affected by stunting. Sadly, undernutrition claims about 3 million young lives every year – representing almost half of all deaths of children under the age of five.
Young children who lack access to pre-primary education also lack access to essential services that support a healthy childhood. Kids who are poorly nourished, who are stunted, and who do not receive adequate stimulation before their fifth birthday are likely to learn less at school and earn less as adults. They are also less ready to compete as adults in an increasingly digital economy.
In Central Asia, I am glad to say that we are starting to see progress on the path toward eliminating childhood stunting. In every country in the region, the share of children who are stunted is on the decrease. This is a remarkable achievement, due in large part to the commitment of governments and communities to address malnutrition. We must remain determined to ensure this progress continues.
I never imagined, therefore, when I temporarily left Uzbekistan in late 2016, that I would return just a half year later to find the country in the midst of a significant transformation.
Stories like these remind me of the vast economic potential of this region, especially if countries here tap into one of their most valuable resources: women.