World Bank Voices
Syndicate content

Social Development

Technology works for getting poor people’s problems fixed – we just have to get it right

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | العربية
© Sarah Farhat/World Bank

One of the encouraging signs that I pick up whenever I travel is the difference that technology is making to the lives of millions of marginalized people. In most cases it’s happening on a small, non-flashy scale in hundreds of different ways, quietly improving the opportunities that that have been denied to remote communities, women and young people for getting a foot on the ladder.

And because it is discreet and under the radar I dare as an optimist to suggest that we are at the beginning of something big – a slow tsunami of success. Let me give you some reasons why I believe this.

Empowering refugees and internally displaced persons through digital identity

Nicholas Oakeshott's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français
Oria Adamo, 72 years old and the mayor of a small town in Central African Republic shows his ID card in the village of Ndu, Bas Uele province, Democratic Republic of the Congo where thousands fled after fleeing a surge in violence that began in May 2017. © Simon Lubuku/UNHCR
Oria Adamo, 72 years old and the mayor of a small town in Central African Republic shows his ID card in the village of Ndu, Bas Uele province, Democratic Republic of the Congo where thousands fled after fleeing a surge in violence that began in May 2017. © Simon Lubuku/UNHCR

Fardowsa, a 20-year old Somali refugee in Uganda, knows the vital importance of identity documents to refugees. She and her family were forced to flee her homeland in 2001 without any official documentation. The refugee ID card she was issued by the Government of Uganda not only provides her with protection and access to humanitarian assistance, but it has also given her the opportunity to study at university and open a mobile money account. With this foundation, Fardowsa is planning to start her own business to further improve her and her family’s new life. In the process, she will also be contributing to Uganda’s economy while realizing her potential as a young female refugee.

Doing things differently to help refugees and their host communities

Franck Bousquet's picture
Refugee children in Ethiopia © Milena Stefanova/World Bank
Refugee children in Ethiopia. © Milena Stefanova/World Bank


On World Refugee Day, we pause to reflect on the struggles of refugees around the world. Refugees are vulnerable, having lost their assets and livelihoods, and without the ability to plan their lives. They need help regaining their voice, becoming self-reliant and rebuilding their lives.

At the World Bank Group, we recognize that the refugee crisis is not only a humanitarian concern, but a formidable development challenge as well. Numbers help to tell this story: Over 90 percent of refugees now live in the developing world; more than half are displaced for more than four years; fifty one percent of refugees are children and are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children; and many refugees are hosted by communities that are also struggling with their own development challenges – weakened infrastructure, food insecurity and limited access to quality health care, among others. Consequently, these communities also need our support.  

This is why the Bank Group, a development institution, is broadening its support for refugees and their host communities in a way that complements – not replaces – the work of others, especially humanitarian partners. We are approaching the problem from a development perspective, addressing social and economic challenges in the medium-term. The goal is to enable refugees to go beyond simply meeting their basic needs to getting an education, accessing health care, working, traveling and opening businesses – so that they can live as ‘normal’ a life as possible, and contribute to their local economy.  Including refugees in development planning and national systems is a key part of this approach.

How is your life different from that of your parents?

Venkat Gopalakrishnan's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español | 中文
© You Ji/World Bank
© You Ji/World Bank


Yunus owns a fabric store in Blantyre, Malawi. The store was founded by his grandfather, who immigrated to Malawi in 1927, and has now been in his family for three generations. Business is good, Yunus said, but that the cost of essential services like electricity and water has gone up since his grandfather and father owned the store. Even so, he remains optimistic.
 
Marija Bosheva is a student at an agriculture and forestry vocational high school in Kavadarci, Macedonia. Like many high school students around the world, she takes daily lessons in history, math, biology, and chemistry. However, unlike many of her peers, she is also studying oenology — the art of making wine.
 
Are you carrying on a family tradition, like Yunus? Do you work or study in an entirely new field that didn’t exist when your parents were your age? How has life changed for you compared to your parents or grandparents when they were your age, and how do you see your children’s lives and possibilities compared to your own? Are you in the same position vis a vis your peers as your parents were vis a vis theirs?
 
Share your story, using the hashtag #InheritPossibility.

Sexual harassment – Where do we stand on legal protection for women?

Paula Tavares's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français
Women abused in her home holding her hand up. Stop sexual harassment against women. Violence and abuse in family relations. © Fure/Shutterstock.com
Woman abused in her home holding her hand up. Stop sexual harassment against women, violence and abuse in family relations. © Fure/Shutterstock.com


The #MeToo movement is transforming the way we perceive, and hopefully, deal with sexual harassment.

For too long women have suffered from this type of violence that has negative consequences on their voice and agency as well as their capacity to fully participate in the economy and society. There is ample evidence of the cost of sexual harassment to businesses – in legal settlements, lost work time and loss of business. But sexual harassment also has negative effects on women’s economic opportunities. For example, if no recourse is available to protect them, instead of reporting the problem, women facing sexual harassment in the workplace often say that they have no other choice but to quit. This may mean starting over, missing out on pay raises, career growth opportunities, and earning potential. Studies suggest that sexual harassment reduces career success and satisfaction for women. Yet, many countries still do not afford women adequate legal protection against this pervasive form of gender inequality.

To build a brighter future, invest in women and girls

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français


Arne Hoel

As we mark International Women’s Day 2018, there has never been a more critical time to invest in people, especially in women and girls. 

Skills, knowledge, and know-how – collectively called human capital – have become an enormous share of global wealth, bigger than produced capital such as factories or industry, or natural resources.

But human capital wealth is not evenly distributed around the world, and it’s a larger slice of wealth as countries develop. How, then, can developing countries build their human capital and prepare for a more technologically demanding future?

The answer is they must invest much more in the building blocks of human capital – in nutrition, health, education, social protection, and jobs. And the biggest returns will come from educating and nurturing girls, empowering women, and ensuring that social safety nets increase their resilience.

According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school, and 15 million girls of primary-school age – half of them in sub-Saharan Africa – will never enter a classroom. Women’s participation in the global labor market is nearly 27 percentage points lower than for men, and women’s labor force participation fell from 52 percent in 1990 to 49 percent in 2016.

What if we could fix this? Fostering women’s labor force participation, business ownership, and improvements in productivity could add billions to the global economy.

To close the gap in women’s land rights, we need to do a better job of measuring it

M. Mercedes Stickler's picture
Also available in: Français
A woman holding her land certificate in rural Zambia. © Jeremy Green
A woman holding her land certificate in rural Zambia. © Jeremy Green

There is broad global agreement that secure property rights help eradicate poverty and that securing women’s land rights reduces gender inequality. But our understanding remains strikingly limited when it comes to the extent to which women’s land rights are – or are not – secure and the impact of women’s tenure security (or lack thereof) on women’s empowerment.

This is true even in Africa, where the most studies have been published, due to shortcomings in both the quality and quantity of research on these questions.

Syrian refugee children’s smiles shine again in Istanbul

Qiyang Xu's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español
© World Bank


Nothing is more satisfying than putting a smile on a child’s face. It is especially true when the child has been a victim of war.
 
The viral image of the three-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, whose dead body was quietly lying on the beach captivated us. Kurdi’s loss of the chance to flee to a safer life invigorated us to act. We decided to help refugee children adapt to their new lives when arriving in a new country.
 
And so, our team from the World Bank Youth Innovation Fund (YIF) partnered with Small Projects Istanbul (SPI), a Turkish non-profit organization, to help 20 Syrian children find some happiness and joy in Turkey after fleeing their war-torn country.
 
YIF provides an opportunity for young employees of the World Bank Group to design, implement and evaluate development projects in client countries focusing on innovation, efficiency and impact on development.
 
After submitting a proposal to the YIF Proposal Competition, and winning, our journey began. Our project, Turkish Language, Mentorship and Psychological Counseling Program, aimed to  support these children to effectively integrate with the local society, develop self-confidence, and have access to education while living in Turkey.

Cyber violence: Disrupting the intersection of technology and gender-based violence

Laura Hinson's picture
© Jeff Turner/Flickr Creative Commons
© Jeff Turner/Flickr Creative Commons

Stories of sexting, sex tapes, online dating gone wrong and cyberbullying are all over social media and the news. However, these stories only begin to scratch the surface of online – or technology-facilitated – gender-based violence (GBV). With a wide range of online predatory behaviors essentially falling under one label, how do we define it? How can we begin to tackle the problem if we can’t grasp the full breadth of the problem?

The World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) has engaged the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) to develop a way to measure technology-facilitated GBV on a global scale. To do this, our team is in the beginning stages of developing a conceptual framework. The reasoning behind this initiative is that, in order to tackle a problem like online violence, we must first get to the root of the problem by understanding the many ways online violence manifests itself. As researchers, defining the problem provides us with the insights we need to determine how to approach and measure the problem. And if we can measure it, we can start testing solutions.

Pages