World Bank speaks out on what constrains women’s voice and agency

Woman activist from the Rwanda Women Network taken at a meeting of the Village of Hope project. Photo: Mary Ellsberg in "Voices and Agency."

Woman activist from the Rwanda Women Network taken at a meeting of the Village of Hope project. Photo: Mary Ellsberg in “Voices and Agency.”

Voice and Agency: Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity

In his Foreword to this strong, empirical book recently released by the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Group President and himself a physician and anthropologist, says:

“Our flagship World Development Report 2012 demonstrated that gender equality and economic development are inextricably linked. It showed that equality not only guarantees basic rights but also plays a vital role in promoting the robust, shared growth needed to end extreme poverty in our increasingly competitive, globalized world. The persistent constraints and deprivations that prevent many of the world’s women from achieving their potential have huge consequences for individuals, families, communities, and nations. The 2012 report recognized that expanding women’s agency—their ability to make decisions and take advantage of opportunities— is key to improving their lives as well as the world we all share.

Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity represents a major advance in global knowledge on this critical front. The vast data and thousands of surveys distilled here cast important light on the nature of constraints women and girls continue to face globally.”

Download the report here (large download file)

[Thanks to Cornelie Quist for alerting us to this publication.]

Extract from the Executive Summary: This report distills an array of data, studies and evidence to shine a spotlight on the pervasive deprivations and constraints that face women and girls worldwide—from epidemic gender-based violence to laws and norms that prevent women from owning property, working, making decisions about their own lives and having influence in society. It identifies some promising programs and interventions to address these deprivations and constraints.

Policymakers and stakeholders need to tackle this agenda, drawing on evidence about what works and systematically tracking progress on the ground. This must start with reforming discriminatory laws and follow through with concerted policies and public actions, including multi-sectoral approaches that engage with men and boys and challenge adverse social norms. There is much to gain. Increasing women’s voice and agency is a valuable end in its own right. And it underpins achievement of the World Bank Group’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity for girls and boys, women and men, around the world.

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