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Gender

How to succeed as Sri Lanka’s top woman entrepreneur: Honesty, hard work, and perseverance

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
This International Women’s Day I chose to have a conversation with a lady who is recognized as the leading Sri Lankan woman entrepreneur, Mrs. Aban Pestonjee.  

Her story is an inspiration to youth (male and female) and women who are afraid of failure and taking risks.

Starting from a modest home-based business, 50 years ago, today Aban is a household brand name that is island wide in Sri Lanka.

Applauding the women leaders in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture

I just ended my first round of country visits as the World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region.  Over and above all, I have been immensely impressed by the resilience, determination, commitment and innovation of the women leaders that I had the privilege to meet during my visits.

These women are succeeding in a region where it is hard for women to realize their career dreams. In South Asia, only 28 percent of women ages 15+ are employed, compared to 48 percent worldwide.

What better opportunity than International Women’s Day to give a huge shout-out and applaud those women who are role models, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the eight countries of South Asia.

Neha Sharma, the district magistrate in Baghai village and Hart Schafer in India
Baghai village in Firozabad district, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: World Bank

Gender equality: Unleashing the real wealth of nations

Annette Dixon's picture
© World Bank
© World Bank

Last week, we launched the Women, Business, and the Law report, which found that despite the considerable progress that many countries have made in improving women’s legal rights over the last decade, women are still only accorded 75 percent of the legal rights that men, on average, are given. As a result, they are less able to get jobs, start businesses and make economic decisions, with economic consequences that reverberate beyond their families and communities.

This is a particularly timely piece of research because as we mark International Women's Day, it’s another reminder of the work we have ahead of us: women without legal protections to go to school or work outside the home are stripped of their voice and agency—and unable to invest in human capital for themselves or their families. With the Human Capital Project in full swing and work underway with more than 50 countries on improving people-based investments, putting gender equality at the top of the agenda will be critical to crafting better policy.

Women in nature conservation: a win-WiNN

Claudia Sobrevila's picture
Purnima Devi Barman and the "Hargila Army" receiving an award for their work to protect the Greater Adjutant stork. Photo: © Courtesy of Purnima Devi Barman. 
Purnima Devi Barman received the Nari Shakti Puraskar 2017 award, the highest civilian award for women in India, for her work along with the “Hargila Army” to protect the greater adjutant stork. © Jantin Das.

A common theme of our work on conservation projects has been the lack of networks for women to share their ideas and learn from others doing the same work.

Which is why we created an all-women’s network to support and empower women in nature conservation. It is called WiNN: the Women in Nature Network, and was founded in 2013 by the two of us and 12 other women.

WiNN is a volunteer-run network of women interested in nature conservation. It serves as a platform for women to interact and learn by sharing experiences and stories relevant to other women in order to enhance conservation impacts and also inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.

Every day is Women’s Day for IDA

Akihiko Nishio's picture
Basira Basiratkha, principal of the Female Experimental High School in Herat, Afghanistan. Her school benefited from an IDA-supported program. © Graham Crouch/World Bank
Basira Basiratkha, principal of the Female Experimental High School in Herat, Afghanistan. Her school benefited from an IDA-supported program. © Graham Crouch/World Bank

At the World Bank, we believe no country, community, or economy can achieve its potential or meet the challenges of the 21st century without the full and equal participation of women and men, girls and boys. This is particularly true in developing countries supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that supports the poorest countries.

IDA countries have made encouraging progress on closing the gaps between women and men in recent years, especially in health and education. For example, women in IDA countries on average can expect to live longer than men (66 years vs. 62 years). With education, girls have caught up with or overtaken boys in enrolling in and completing primary school, as well as in transitioning on to secondary education.

The power of investing in girls in Tanzania

Quentin Wodon's picture

Mwajuma* was 15 in rural Shinyanga when her parents informed her she would not be going to school anymore – she was getting married. She never objected. Several of her peers had similarly had their schooling terminated and were already busy taking care of their own families. Neither did she object to the fact she was to be the second wife – this too was commonplace among her peers. But the marriage did not last.

Invest in women to boost growth in MENA

Lili Mottaghi's picture

Only one in five working-age women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a job or is actively looking for one. Currently, women make up only 21% of the labor force and only contribute 18% to MENA’s overall GDP. Had the gender gap in labor force participation been narrowed over the past decade, the GDP growth rate in MENA could have doubled or increased by about US$1 trillion in cumulative output. Instead, the current gender gap in the traditional labor market has extended to the rest of the economy, including the technology sector, impacting women’s access to, and use of, digital services. Women are 9% less likely to own a mobile phone and 21% less likely than men to use mobile internet. 

Holding up half the sky—and some blogs

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture


Pexels | rawpixels.com

Bloggers write to share unique insights. They may want to simply share knowledge, push an issue forward, establish thought leadership, and in some cases drive business.

Bloggers also create community. For example, this blog platform reaches a subscribed community (25K in number!) interested in infrastructure finance, PPPs, and the use of guarantees to spur private-sector investments—especially in developing countries. With niche topics like this, a blogspace becomes a virtual gathering place where we can exchange war stories, spectacular examples, best practices, trends, and opinions. We can know that others care about the same topics. We can also blog to shape the demographics of discourse and raise specific voices.

Do conditional cash transfers empower women?

Markus Goldstein's picture
A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a new approach to measuring within household decision making.   Continuing in that vein, I was recently reading a paper (ungated version here) by Almas, Armand, Attanasio, and Carneiro which offers a really n

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