President Robert B. Zoellick announced six new World Bank Group commitments on gender equality on April 11 at the event “Ways to Bridge Gender Gaps,” organized by the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan--Gender Equality as Smart Economics--on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings. Mr. Zoellick joined ministers from Germany, Egypt, Sweden, Denmark and Liberia and others to take stock of the status of women in developing countries and focus on creating opportunities for adolescent girls and women entrepreneurs.
“One motivation for women’s empowerment is basic fairness and decency,” said Zoellick at the Event. “Young girls should have the exact same opportunities that boys do to lead full andproductive lives. But second, the empowerment of women is smart economics…studies show that investments in women yield large social and economic returns.”
New World Bank Group Commitments on Gender Equality
1. To measurably improve the integration of gender equality into the Bank’s agriculture and rural developments projects by the end of the implementation of the Gender Action Plan in December 2010. In the Africa Region, at least half of the Bank's rural projects will include gender-responsive actions in their design. An example of the work in this sector will be to help women obtain title to their land, often a prerequisite to obtaining financing.
2. To channel, through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), at least $100 million in credit lines at commercial banks for women entrepreneurs, by the end of 2012.
3. To have World Bank Country Directors report by June 1 on what the Bank is doing and what more it should be doing to empower girls and women economically in the countries the Bank works with.
4. To launch a work program with private and public sector leaders on “young women count for economic development,” at an event prior to the 2008 Annual Meetings. The event will focus on the development value of increasing adolescent girls’ economic opportunities, and seek to mobilize government, donors, foundations and private sector engagement and funds. A first program already being implemented in this space is a public-private partnership with the Nike Foundation and the Government of Liberia to expand economic opportunities for adolescent girls in Liberia through job training and transition-to-work programs.
5. To create a Private Sector Leaders' Forum to support the Gender Action Plan and convene their first meeting on the margins of the 2008 Annual Meetings.
6. To increase IDA Investments for Gender Equality. Mr. Zoellick will ask for a review of IDA-funded activities with regard to gender mainstreaming at the end of the IDA15 cycle, with the objective of increasing IDA investments on gender equality in operations financed through IDA16. (PDF 100KB)
Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul oulines Germany's commitments to gender equality as she receives Denmark's MDG3 Champion Torch.
Other highlights of the seminar included Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation,Ulla Pedersen Tørnæs, presenting her country’s campaign to raise the profile of the third Millennium Development Goal—gender equality and empowerment of women by 2015. As part of this, Mr. Zoellick and the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul both accepted from Pedersen Tørnæs the campaign’s MDG3 Champion Torch and Denmark’s challenge to “do something more” to promote women’s economic empowerment.
The seminar also hosted the launch of Doing Business: Women in Africa, the first in a series of regional studies on women’s entrepreneurship. This publication is a joint effort between the IFC-World Bank Doing Business project and the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan, launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February 2007. The report looks in depth at individual businesses women who have faced legal and regulatory obstacles in seven countries.
In 2007, the Bank launched Gender Equality as Smart Economics —a four-year Gender Action Plan (GAP) to increase women’s access to land, labor force, agriculture, infrastructure, and finance. Key donor partners include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
World Bank Group Managing Director Ngozi Ikonjo-Iweala launches Doing Business Report on Women in Africa