World Bank Voices
Syndicate content

Blogs

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.”

Missed our #16Days campaign against gender-based violence? Here’s your chance to catch up

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

The global #16Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign started on November 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ended on International Human Rights Day, which was celebrated on December 10.
 
Throughout those #16Days, the World Bank’s message was clear:  Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a global pandemic that has or will affect 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. Violence is not only a personal struggle for the victims, but also has severe consequences on social and economic outcomes.
 

Finding the missing millions can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture
Students in Bangladesh. © Scott Wallace/World Bank


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, approved in September, takes a holistic approach to development and presents no fewer than 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In committing to the goals and associated targets, the international community has agreed to a more ambitious development compact — that of ending poverty, protecting the planet while "leaving no one behind".

Despite this ambition, we may not know who precisely is being left out of our development programs or how to more effectively target our intended beneficiaries.

Migrant or refugee: What’s in a name?

Xavier Devictor's picture
What is the difference between an economic migrant and a refugee? In principle, the response is clear: economic migrants are essentially people in search of opportunities for economic betterment, while refugees are fleeing a peril for their lives and their specific status is defined under the 1951 Geneva Convention.In the face of such despair, traditional mechanisms for managing economic migration simply do not work, while refugee law does not apply.

Experts, communities convene to develop evidence-based approaches to prevent intimate partner violence in Honduras

Amber L. Hill's picture
The communities of Choloma, La Ceiba and el Progreso in Honduras all had one question in common:  "When can we get started?"

"We want solutions that work and we want them now," said a community leader from La Ceiba during a meeting with national and international experts on the adaptation of an evidence-based intervention to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Honduras. La Ceiba is one of the cities most affected by violence in Honduras, which has the highest homicide rate in the world at 90.4 deaths/100,000 people. More specifically, rates of violence targeted towards women and girls are also alarmingly high:
  • A total of 27% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15; some regions have rates up to 40%.
  • Similarly to other countries around the world, the vast majority of the perpetrators are intimate partners or ex-partners.
These statistics clearly demonstrate the need for interventions that seek to affect the root causes that underlie gender-based violence in Honduras.
 

Join webcast this Dec. 7 -- Violence against Women and Girls: It’s Everybody’s Business

Claudia Gabarain's picture

As part of the World Bank's involvement in the #16Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, we'll be holding a discussion  this Monday, December 7 at 9:30 a.m. EST (14:30 GMT) to look at how we can end violence against women and girls. Moderated by journalist Joanne Levine, it'll include gynecologist and Sakharov Prize winner Denis Mukwege, M.D.; pediatrician Nadia Hashimi; Imam Yahya Hendi from Georgetown University; the president of the Representation Project, Kristen Joiner; and World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region, Makhtar Diop.

Follow the live stream here and participate through the live blog hosted by experts in gender issues here at the Bank.
 

How Jordan is expanding its assistance to victims of gender-based violence

Paul Prettitore's picture
Grasping the full extent of violence against women is difficult everywhere.   In the Middle East, it can be both difficult and dangerous for women to report abuse given social attitudes toward the roles of women and men within the family. 

In Jordan, the violence against girls and women embodies the problem.  The Jordanian government’s Population and Family Health Survey captures only a portion of the scale of violence against women.  Social norms are at play; roughly 70% of Jordanian women think there are circumstances that justify a husband beating his wife.  Over one-third (34%) of Jordanian women report that they have experienced some form of physical violence since the age of 15.  One in three Jordanian women experienced some form of emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence from their spouse, and almost 1 in 10 experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. 

One of the major concerns resulting from the survey is that almost half (47%) the women reporting violence did not seek any type of help, with less than 5% taking steps to address sexual violence.  Very few women seek help from medical providers, police, lawyers or social service organizations. 

Over the past four years the World Bank Group has been collaborating with the Justice Center for Legal Aid (JCLA) -- a Jordanian civil society organization -- to pilot legal aid services for poor Jordanians as well as Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.  As is often the case, poverty status is a strong indicator of the likelihood of violence in Jordan.  Poorer women were more likely to report all types of violence, and higher frequency of such violence.  They are also more likely to believe such violence is justified. 

The legal aid program provides awareness/information, counseling and legal representation by a lawyer to aid the poor in addressing legal problems.  The majority of JCLA beneficiaries – just over 70% - are women.  And one of the ‘justice gaps’ identified by JCLA is in providing effective legal services to female victims of violence. 

Jordan adopted legislation to protect victims of domestic violence in 2008, giving victims, for the first time, access to protection orders – one of the most effective tools in addressing violence.  Victims can also receive direct compensation.  It also provided confidential proceedings and procedures to detain alleged abusers.  A specialized institution – the Family Protection Department of the Ministry of Interior – was established to implement the reform, providing access to multiple services, including complaints/investigation, medical care and social counseling.   
 
Yet the law left a number of gaps in place.  It applies only to perpetrators living with the victims, so ex-husbands, boyfriends and brothers may not be covered, and the survey shows they are often the ones committing the abuse. It also leaves in place a heavy focus on reconciliation, to the possible detriment of protecting the victims.   Lack of shelters for victims, along with the inability to link requests for child custody and child support with protection orders, may prevent many women from seeking help. 

To date, JCLA’s assistance has been focused primarily around awareness and information for victims.  This focus is now about to grow.  With the assistance of the World Bank Group, JCLA is launching an initiative to provide more comprehensive services to women victims of violence.  The plans include establishing a referral system in the Family Protection Department and placing a legal aid lawyer at each of the Department’s in-take centers.

What do we hope to achieve?  There are several opportunities.  The overarching goal is to ensure poor women can access services and achieve some level of justice to address the violence they suffer.  More specifically, the referral system should aid in providing victims the legal services they need to initiate and navigate criminal proceedings, including obtaining and enforcing protection orders.     Victims will also have assistance addressing legal problems commonly linked to domestic violence, such as divorce, child custody, child support and alimony. 

As a lawyer, I volunteer my time representing poor persons, including women seeking protection orders, at the Superior Court here in Washington, D.C.  I understand the importance of providing legal assistance to female victims of domestic violence, and am encouraged to see such an initiative launched in Jordan.  

Why men for women: Engaging men and boys in addressing sexual and gender-based violence in conflict

Verena Phipps's picture
Sexual and gender-based violence is an all-too common and devastating challenge emerging in the context of conflict and instability. A global study of 50 countries revealed significant increases in incidence of gender-based violence following major wars.  In Somalia, for example, more than 10,000 cases of various forms of gender-based violence have been assisted by humanitarian partners since 2011.  In Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the 2012-13 Demographic and Health Survey indicates that more than half of women have ever experienced physical violence since the age of 15, while nearly 30 percent of women have ever experienced sexual violence. These figures, however, likely belie the extent of the challenge as most survivors are unlikely to seek formal support or care due to fear of stigmatization, rejection or re-victimization.

While the context of conflict and the climate of impunity that prevails create an enabling space for violations, perpetration of gender-based violence is ultimately tied to pervasive norms and dynamics that exist prior to conflict that sanction and reinforce men’s dominance over women and girls (or in some instances, marginalized or socially weaker men). 

Numerous studies demonstrate that even after conflict ends, violence often continues in the home, as men who have experienced high levels of trauma and displacement during conflict are often likely to use violence against women and children. Dislocated from normative roles as providers and protectors, men’s experiences of conflict, trauma and deprivation contribute to feelings of disempowerment and loss of respect and authority.

Feelings of frustration, loss in self-esteem, depression, and disaffection can all manifest in negative coping behaviors, including aggression and partner conflict—whether physical, sexual, psychological or emotional violence—as men attempt to reassert themselves and their authority in the home.

In order to address the drivers of gender-based violence, therefore, prevention and mitigation initiatives must tackle these entrenched dynamics and in particular should engage men and boys as critical partners in facilitating pathways for positive social change.  This emphasis recognizes the multiple roles men play not just as perpetrators, but also as husbands and family members, as witnesses, as service providers, as community leaders and decision makers, and in some cases, as survivors themselves. 

Importantly, attention to men’s experiences in conflict should not obviate the need to address the enormous challenges confronting female survivors of violence, nor is it meant to distract attention or resources away from gender-based violence response and empowerment programming targeting women and girls.  But in order to better protect women and girls in these fragile spaces, we need to improve our understanding on how to work more effectively with men and boys to transform harmful dynamics that perpetuate, rationalize and justify violence.

Responding to this need, the World Bank supported several innovative initiatives working with men to address conflict-related gender-based violence in the Africa region. Through the LOGiCA trust fund, we partnered with Promundo—a leading organization working globally with men and boys to advance more equitable gender norms and positive models of masculinity—to test operational approaches on effective engagement of men and boys in gender-based violence programming in Goma and Luvungi in DRC, and in Burundi.

In partnership with Care Burundi, Women-for-Women International, Heal Africa and the Institute for Higher Education in Mental Health, Promundo developed and piloted group therapeutic and psycho-educational tools drawing from global best practices. Group therapy meetings were held weekly for 10-15 weeks with training modules intended to improve social bonds, promote shared decision-making and respect, promote positive, non-violent models of conflict resolution and coping mechanisms, and heal individual trauma.  While the program predominantly targeted male participants, group sessions sometimes included female partners as well.

Findings from associated evaluations were overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating improvements across a range of behaviors including reductions in stress and violence in the home, reductions in alcohol abuse and drinking, improved ability to manage frustration and aggression, increased sharing of income between men and women, and improved couple relations. Creating a safe space for men to engage also enabled formation of social relationships between participants, and many groups elected to continue the weekly meetings even after formal conclusion of the program.  

Given the success of the pilot interventions, Promundo has since xpanded this work into a new initiative, entitled Living Peace: Men Beyond War, which currently is being implemented in DRC. Evidence emerging from this work also has important implications for post-conflict recovery programming in other fields, including demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, migration and forced displacement and interventions targeting youth at risk of engaging in violence.

While questions remain about sustainability of behavior change in the longer run, as well as effectiveness when brought to scale, this work presents an important contribution to our understanding of how to effectively engage men in preventing and mitigating against violence in communities and critically, within the home.  

From football to fighting poverty: A shout-out for good governance

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français
Children playing football in Timor-Leste. © Alex Baluyut/World Bank


​The investigation, indictment, and arrest of several FIFA officials sends a simple and powerful message: No matter how untouchable an entity seems to be, in today’s world no organization, company, or government is immune from public scrutiny and law enforcement when it comes to allegations of fraud and corruption. Tolerating corruption as a “cost of doing business” is quickly going out of fashion.

The World Bank works hard to tilt the equation in favor of clean business in its fight against poverty. We investigate and hold perpetrators accountable when we receive allegations of wrongdoing in projects. Since we began this work, we have sanctioned more than 700 firms and individuals for misconduct in our projects. Most of these sanctions involve some form of debarment, rendering persons and firms ineligible to bid on future Bank-financed contracts. We recently released an updated review of our experience in investigating and adjudicating fraud and corruption cases, and it shows that it’s possible to tackle corruption in a way that is efficient, effective and fair. 

The (actual and scientifically derived) healing power of the sea

Timothy Bouley's picture
 USFWS/Jim Maragos

This week is unique. December 1 was World AIDS Day –a moment to unite with the community touched by HIV and push forward in the fight. December 4 is Ocean Day at COP21 – an opportunity to advance the global ocean and climate agenda toward meaningful impact and action. Two important days with two very different purposes. And yet, each significant in commemorating critical causes that are often just outside the realm of everyday consideration. But it is not only this marginality that links them– and understanding this connection can only strengthen our imperative to act. 

Pages