World Bank, Gender & Poverty

The World Bank Group, along with various UN organizations, is attempting to make substantial progress toward gender equality, according to a recent study conducted by Heinrich Boll Stiftung North America. The ongoing 16th round of International Development Association replenishment talks is placing a large focus on gender issues across the globe.

school girlGender equality’s role in overcoming poverty and social ills in our world is well known. Following the Beijing World Women conference in 1995, the World Bank developed an official gender mainstreaming strategy that was approved in 2001. The strategy aims to take into account gender-responsive actions in response to poverty and development needs. A Gender and Development Board was created and major reports to date indicate that gender-based division of labour leads to inequalities and inefficiencies in economics.

Although most regions in the world suffer from gender inequalities, (including OECD nations) disparities tend to be greater in poor countries. Education and health are areas in which progress has been made by the World Bank initiative according to a Bank Strategy paper. For instance the paper states that, “between 1995 and 2000 the Bank lent more than $3.4 billion for girls’ education programs, and was also the single largest lender in the world for health, nutrition and population projects, three-quarters of which contained gender-responsive actions.”

The business case for mainstreaming gender maintains that economies are more stable and grow at a steady rate when women and men are relatively equal. Let’s hope that the Bank continues its gender equality efforts and perhaps the world will become poverty and recession free.

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