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Middle East and North Africa

Let’s work together to prevent violence and protect the vulnerable against fragility

Franck Bousquet's picture
Participants from 90 countries and 400 organizations joined the 2018 Fragility Forum to explore development, humanitarian and security approaches to fostering global peace and stability. © World Bank
Participants from 90 countries and 400 organizations joined the 2018 Fragility Forum to explore development, humanitarian and security approaches to fostering global peace and stability. © World Bank

Last week, in a gathering of governments and organizations at the World Bank-hosted 2018 Fragility Forum, the international community took an important step forward in fighting fragility by sharpening our understanding of it, hearing directly from those affected by it and thinking collectively through what we must do to overcome it.

We all agreed, acting on a renewed understanding of fragility and what it means to vulnerable communities represents an urgent and collective responsibility. We’ve all seen the suffering. In places like Syria, Myanmar, Yemen and South Sudan, the loss of life, dignity and economic prosperity is rife. With more than half of the world’s poor expected to live in fragile settings by 2030, we can’t end poverty unless we promote stability, prosperity, and peace in these places ravaged by conflict and crisis.

How many companies are run by women, and why does it matter?

Masako Hiraga's picture

Happy International Women’s Day! This is an important year to celebrate – from global politics to the Oscars last weekend, gender equality and inclusion are firmly on the agenda.

But outside movies and matters of government, we see the effects on gender equality every day, in how we live and work. One area we have data on comes from companies: what share of firms have a female CEO or top manager?

Only 1 in 5 firms worldwide have a female CEO or top manager, and it is more common among the smaller firms. While this does vary by around the world – Thailand and Cambodia are the only two countries where the data show more women running companies than men.

Better representation of women in business is important. It ensures a variety of views and ideas are represented, and when the top manager of a firm is woman, that firm is likely to have a larger share of permanent female workers.

The invisible door: Three barriers limiting women’s access to work

Namita Datta's picture
Women’s labor force participation worldwide over the last two decades has stagnated, and women generally earn less than men. (Photo: Tom Perry / World Bank)
How can we Press For Progress —the theme of International Women's Day 2018— to improve women's opportunities at work? Despite progress on women’s health and education in the past few decades, the gender gap on access to jobs has remained a stubborn challenge.

My life as an entrepreneur in Egypt

Mostafa Amin's picture

Egypt is a market of more than 100 million people and full of opportunities for the trained entrepreneurial eye. Like many developing nations, Egypt seems to have a struggling job market, but many see this as a blessing in disguise. In a country where millions are looking for jobs, there are also millions who give up on the search and create their own opportunities. This might seem far-fetched, but the reality is that poor people in developing nations are extremely entrepreneurial – probably even more so than in developed countries. Professor Ha-Joon Chang captured this fact in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism

One of the best decisions in my life was to reject a job offer from a big corporation and embark on an entrepreneurial start-up journey. Indeed, the journey has been tough and there were, and still are, bumpy roads, but the rising entrepreneurial spirit across the country has been extremely uplifting. I have been in the Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem for the past few years and I consider myself well connected and quite informed about everything that has been happening. But I can say with confidence that what the country has been seeing in the past few years is very promising and inspires us to do more. 

From marginalization to inclusion: The story of the waste pickers in the West Bank

Amal Faltas's picture

About a decade ago, we started a project to improve solid waste management for waste pickers like Ibrahim and the 840,000 people in the southern West Bank governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron. One of the project components included the closure of the Yatta dumpsite, where illegally dumped and burned household waste was reaching a very unsanitary and hazardous level. 

But here came the challenge. 

While the closure of the dumpsite would mean putting an end to a serious environmental and public health problem, it was terrible news for the waste pickers and their families. It meant that the livelihoods of those families would come to an end. 

Clearing the air pollution in Iran

Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou's picture

The cold season is here and just like previous years in the past decades the residents of Tehran and several other large cities in Iran such as Tabriz, Mashhad, and Isfahan are suffering from high levels of air pollution. Just in the first week of February and in the last week of autumn, the schools in Tehran were shut down for almost the whole weeks because of dangerously high levels of air pollution and similar measures were also taken in Tabriz, Urmia, and Mashhad.


The 2018 Fragility Forum: Managing risks for peace and stability

Franck Bousquet's picture
© Caroline Gluck/Oxfam

In just under two weeks, about 1,000 people will gather in Washington D.C. for the 2018 Fragility Forum. Policy makers from developed and developing countries, practitioners from humanitarian agencies, development institutions and the peace and security communities, academics and representatives of the private sector will come together with the goal of increasing our collective impact in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV).
The theme of the Forum, Managing Risks for Peace and Stability, reflects a strategic shift in how the global community addresses FCV – among other ways by putting prevention first. This renewed approach is laid out in an upcoming study done jointly by the World Bank and United Nations: Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. The study says the world must refocus its attention on prevention as a means to achieving peace. The key, according to the authors, is to identify risks early and to work closely with governments to improve response to these risks and reinforce inclusion.

The Arab Spring – Unfinished Journeys

Juliana J Biondo's picture
Helen Zughaib, The Places They Will Go, 2015-2016, dimensions variable, individual children’s shoes, painted in acrylic gouache on adhesive photo installation. © Helen Zughaib
Helen Zughaib, The Places They Will Go, 2015-2016, dimensions variable, individual children’s shoes, painted in acrylic gouache on adhesive photo installation. © Helen Zughaib 

Each one is different - one has pink rims, and multi-sized dots, and hues of electric orange, deep fuchsia, and sea foam green. Another is donning pinstripes in red and orange, with mint green rims. And another – violet, blue, and red checkers with accents of lavender. We are looking at shoes, twenty-two shoes to be exact. They are all hand-painted by artist Helen Zughaib. These shoes, titled Oh The Places They Will Go, is part of the artists’ exhibition The Arab Spring – Unfinished Journeys, which premiered at the World Bank in Washington DC from January 28th to February 16th, 2018. The exhibition was hosted by the World Bank Art Program, in partnership with the Middle East and North Africa Regional Vice President Hafez Ghanem. The World Bank Art Program hosts regular exhibitions, domestically and internationally, that shed light on pressing development issues.

The Arab Spring – Unfinished Journeys stands as an important connection point between the growing global crisis of refugees and internally displaced people, and the Bank’s continuing efforts to engage in reconstruction and recovery and address the root causes of conflict and violence  - from new financing mechanisms in Jordan and Lebanon, to new cash transfer programs in Yemen allowing more refugees access to food.

Unfinished journeys: Helen Zughaib captures the aftermath of the Arab Spring in her art

Aida Haddad's picture

According to a World Bank study, the current violence in the Middle East and North Africa Region led to fifteen million people fleeing their homes, giving rise to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Many sought refuge in neighboring countries that are economically fragile, further complicating the tragedy. Women and children bear the brunt of war and this is what Helen Zughaib aimed to capture in her paintings. 

The World Bank Art Program, in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region, organized an exhibition of the works of artist Helen Zughaib, titled: The Arab Spring/Unfinished Journeys, that were on view in the main building of the World Bank’s Washington headquarters from January 18 to February 16. The theme of Helen’s work depicts the sense of hope and dignity that prevailed when the Arab Spring began, only to dissipate soon after with the horrors of war and forced migration. 

Using adaptive social protection to cope with crisis and build resilience

Michal Rutkowski's picture
In a world increasingly filled with risk, social protection systems help individuals and families cope with civil war, natural disaster, displacement, and other shocks. ©
 Farhana Asnap/World Bank

Crisis is becoming a new normal in the world today. Over the past 30 years, the world has lost more than 2.5 million people and almost $4 trillion to natural disasters. In 2017 alone, adverse natural events resulted in global losses of about $330 billion, making last year the costliest ever in terms of global weather-related disasters. Climate change, demographic shifts, and other global trends may also create fragility risks. Currently, conflicts drive 80 percent of all humanitarian needs and the share of the extreme poor living in conflict-affected situations is expected to rise to more than 60 percent by 2030.