How To Do Smart Economics

Did you know that “about 2/5 of girls are never born due to a preference for sons”?

That’s one of the statements given by the recently published Word Development Report 2012. You can think of the World Bank whatever you like, but at least they are going with the times and looking at how important women are for the development of our planet. Here are some of the findings:

The authors of the report are positive about the position of women nowadays: “Although many women continue to struggle with gender- based disadvantages in their daily lives, things have changed for the better—and at a pace that would have been unthinkable even two decades ago.”

There are definitely some good news within the report: “Gender gaps in primary education have closed in almost all countries.” Further, more than half of the university students are women nowadays. The report also explains how empowering women means positive impact on communities on many levels. An example: “in India, giving power to women at the local level led to increases in the provision of public goods, such as water and sanitation, which mattered more to women.”

However, inequalities continue to exist and are stronger in some areas of the world. “Females are more likely to die, relative to males, in many low- and middle-income countries than their counterparts in rich countries.” Women are also “more likely than men to work as unpaid family laborers or in the informal sector.” In most countries, women continue to be under-represented in politics as well as in higher positions in the private sector.

The report stresses gender equality and explains it in the following terms: “Gender equality refers to how women and men relate to each other and to the resulting differences in power between them.” They explain that “gender equality is smart economics”. The report states the importance of “removing barriers that prevent women from having the same access as men to education, economic opportunities.” Further on they point out that empowering a woman directly and indirectly helps other people: her children and the people in her community.

Let’s see if what they call gender mainstreaming keeps us going towards a more equal society. It would definitely be a smart choice not just for the economy.

You can find the full report here in several languages.

2 thoughts on “How To Do Smart Economics

  1. World Bank isn’t all bad; they simply define “equality,” “development,” and “progress” differently than many (maybe most) other people. Many of the issues they raise are valid. The solutions they propose to those issues though are often a different matter.

    In the case of this report, no one can deny that gender inequality is a problem in developing countries; it is a problem here in the “first world” too. Unfortunately for World Bank addressing gender inequality will not involve getting third world countries hopelessly in debt; instead, it will involve educating and empowering their people. That is not a role to which World Bank is accustomed. Indeed, an educated and empowered population is far less likely to leap at the ridiculous terms involved in World Bank loans.

    • I agree with you Rob, there’s nothing wrong with the findings I picked out above and trying to go for empowerment and education definitely reduces the space of action for the WB and their destructive policies.

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