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Women's Voice, Agency and Participation

World Development Report 2013: Jobs

Women's Voice, Agency and Participation

The World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality and Development recognized that expanding women's agency is critical for improving the lives of women, their households and their communities. It is a central component of gender equality, alongside increasing human and physical endowments and expanding economic opportunities. Limited progress has been made in improving women's agency. In recognition of the need for focused attention, the World Bank is developing a major new report on women's voice, agency and participation, to be launched in Spring 2014.

The report will focus on five of the many "expressions" of agency where major challenges persist globally: freedom from violence, so that women do not experience this most basic violation of their rights; women's access to and control over land, which provides security, increases bargaining power at home and in the community and facilitates access to markets; having voice in society and influencing policies, which can advance more transformative policies and programs; freedom of movement, another precursor to women's full participation in their communities and societies; and decision making over family formation, which can impact women's and children's health, bargaining power at home and their ability to go out to work.

The report will also explore several cross-cutting issues with transformative potential, including: the importance of engaging men and boys; overcoming the many overlapping disadvantages women experience (such as poverty, poor health, ethnic minority status); the collective dimension of agency; the importance of progressive laws and institutions; and changing social and cultural norms.

The report will offer operational guidance to the World Bank, policy makers and other partners on the ground interested in advancing gender equity around the world.

Areas of Focus

Gender-based violence protest

Freedom From Gender-Based Violence

Female landowner

Access to and Control Over Land

Community meeting

Voice in Society and Political Participation

Malaysia graduation

Freedom of Movement and Mobility

Mother and children

Decision-Making Over Family Formation

Women workers

Gender and Agency: Cross-Cutting Issues

Statisticians entering data

Improving Data and Evidence on Women's Agency

social media platforms

Raising Awareness of Gender and Agency

What Is Agency?

Agency is being able to use endowments to take advantage of opportunities to achieve desired outcomes -- the ability of people (both individually and together) to advance the goals that they value.

Your Feedback

We invite you to provide feedback on the Women's Voice, Agency and Participation concept note and share your work on this important issue. Please send your comments to the following e-mail address:

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