Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Are Women Doing? The World Bank Weighs in on Gender & Development - WAPPP Seminar Series

The Men: Sudhir Shetty, Sector Manager, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, The World Bank; and Jishnu Das, Senior Economist in the Development Research Group, The World Bank

The Talk: World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development

The Question: Are women better or worst off than they've been in previous decades?

Not all inequalities are created equal.

At least, that's what researchers at the World Bank have concluded with the release of this year's Gender Development Gap report.

Sudhir Shetty and Jishnu Das, two economists who worked on the report, were on hand at WAPPP to present the latest findings to the Women's Leadership Board at WAPPP on how women have progressed around the world in the past few decades.

The results are positive, but reveal that there's still a long way to go.

While some areas such as education have improved dramatically, researchers says, inequality stubbornly persists in areas such as maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS infection, the wage gap, and domestic violence.

The reason, say Shetty and Das, is a complex interaction between markets, households and formal institutions that must all work together in order to ensure women are supported by every aspect of society.

For instance, curbing female mortality necessitates deep political will on the part of the government to reform its institutions. "I have never been to a district hospital in India where a doctor is not drunk after 8 o'clock," says Das. "The institutions are just not working, and these are the problems that effect female mortality."

The researchers say that there are ways to tackle these challenges. To reduce female mortality, for instance, countries must concentrate on improving clean water and sanitation so that infant girls stand a better chance of survival. A look at the historical data in the US and Europe revealed telling data to the team: as access to clean water improved at the turn of the 20th century, so too did the survival of baby girls.

Some challenges like domestic abuse, however, require a far more complex approach. Political will must drive an agenda that prioritizes the well-being of women and their children; economic opportunities such as access to land, better infrastructure, and greater emphasis on child care can all contribute to a shifting climate that empowers women within their households and in society. Buy-in from men is also a critical aspect in reducing domestic violence; as Shetty says: "This report is about gender -- not just women."

*Photo Image Courtesy of World Bank

Effie-Michelle Metallidis is a guest student blogger for the Women and Public Policy Program and Master in Public Policy first-year student at Harvard Kennedy School.

1 comment:

  1. If they take care for the full family again, giving the daughters free to work, the double work can be shared on the shoulders of women.

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