5 facts about global poverty that may surprise you

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By Andy Sumner, King’s College London


This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets
of 
Development in Transition
The 2019 Perspectives on Global Development
on 
Rethinking Development Strategies adds to this discussion


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This blog is the first of two. Part one outlines five facts about global poverty and economic development in the developing world and discusses how the nature of development is changing. Part two, which will post tomorrow, will consider the implications of these changes for future development co-operation.

Fact 1. A new polarisation is emerging in the developing world. A new polarisation is emerging within the developing world between ‘moving’ and ‘stuck’ countries, as well as between ‘high-ODA’ and ‘post-ODA’ countries. Continue reading

Social protection systems that work for women’s rights

Sigi-banner-for-blogBy Shahra Razavi, Chief of Research and Data, UN Women


This blog is part of a special series marking the intersection between
the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI),
the
2019 SIGI Global Report and work on Social Protection


Social-protection-women-cashGender-responsive social protection systems have been very effective in mitigating the inequalities generated by markets. Take the case of work-related benefits, such as maternity and parental leave and sickness and unemployment benefits. Thanks to these transfers, the gender gap in disposable incomes in a range of high- and middle-income countries becomes much smaller than the gap in market incomes, while affordable childcare services have been pivotal in giving women, especially mothers, a foothold in the labour market.

Globally, however, only 41% of mothers with newborns receive a maternity benefit, with coverage rates as low as 16% in Africa. Widespread labour market informality is at the root of this exclusion. Yet, in Chile, Costa Rica and South Africa, social insurance-based leave schemes have been extended to cover informal wage workers, such as domestic workers and seasonal agricultural labourers. Mongolia provides an interesting combination of contributory and non-contributory benefits, including maternity cash benefits to all pregnant women and mothers of infants regardless of their contribution to the social insurance scheme, employment status or nationality. In recent decades, child- and family-related allowances have also gained traction in developing countries. Their aim is to offset some of the costs of raising children while promoting basic income security and investing in children’s capabilities. Such schemes mostly target mothers on the premise that women are more likely than men to prioritise child-oriented spending.

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Gender and social protection: fighting for equality and against poverty

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By Liévin Feliho, Chief Executive Officer, SOLIHO; Former Government Commissioner at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in France  


This blog is part of a special series marking the intersection between
the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI),
the
2019 SIGI Global Report and work on Social Protection


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According to the International Labor Organization (ILO)1, only a minority of the world’s inhabitants (45.2%) enjoy at least one social protection benefit today. If this protection amounts to 84.1% in Europe, it is in Africa that the situation is most worrying with only 17.8% of the population covered. It is difficult to have a fair assessment of women’s coverage level since most of the available and disaggregated data only concern benefits provided to mothers with newborns.2 Evidence points to the fact that, regarding social protection also, women are structural victims.

The Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) promulgated on March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama and the 2011 report on the Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization by the advisory group chaired by Michelle Bachelet, set by ILO with the collaboration of the WHO, have increased awareness around the concept of social protection. After the economic and financial crisis of 2008, these initiatives allowed policy makers from poor countries to more freely defend the idea of institutional solidarity. Indeed, Africans had prioritised social protection since at least the early 2000s3 but poor governance and the conflicting requirements of donors in budgetary matters have failed to bring to fruition their ambitions in the area of social protection and health. So, what does this specifically mean for African women and social protection? Three considerations follow:

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Why looking at discriminatory social institutions is critical for the gender-responsiveness of social protection policies

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By Gaëlle Ferrant and Caroline Tassot, Economists, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a special series marking the intersection between
the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)
the 2019 SIGI Global Report and work on Social Protection


SIGI-Gender-Social-ProtectionThe call for leaving no one behind includes extending social protection to excluded groups, such as vulnerable women, and providing all women with similar benefits as men. For instance, despite the universal provision of paid maternity leave (only 2 out of the 180 SIGI1 countries do not provide paid maternity or parental leave for mothers), only 41% of mothers with newborns receive a maternity benefit (with fewer than 16% in Africa), while 83 million remain uncovered (ILO, 2017). In Europe, the relatively narrow gender gap in old-age pension coverage (6.5 percentage points) hides extensive gender disparities in the actual benefits: women’s pensions are, on average, 40% lower than those of men (Directorate for Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs, 2016).

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 5 on gender and SDG 1.3 on social protection, means better understanding the conditions that will allow such universal social protection coverage to translate into fair and equal outcomes at all stages of the lifecycle for women and men. This is exactly what the Commission on the Status of Women will discuss in New York this March (11-22 March 2019). It is also at the heart of the Joint Statement by the Social Protection Inter-Agency Co-operation Board (SPIAC-B), in which the OECD Development Centre is a member.

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Are gender norms the new magic bullet in development?

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By Dr Caroline Harper, Head of Programme, Principal Research Fellow, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 
Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


Gender-normsThe terms gender and social norms have become increasingly used in development discourse. They focus on the core of discrimination: people’s attitudes and behaviours as held and enacted by individuals, as housed in social institutions, and as codified in formal and informal laws. These attitudes and behaviours push women and girls to the margin of society, leaving them disempowered and often impoverished. But changes in these social and cultural rules are not simply cosmetic; social norms are being actively contested and changed, and these changes have the potential to endure and make a real difference.

However, changing norms, or the rules underpinning discriminatory attitudes and behaviours in our daily lives, can face difficulties on multiple fronts. For one, norm change can look dangerously like a magic bullet for fixing social problems. As work on norm change grows in popularity in the development sector, these efforts risk overlooking the complexity of what works to change norms and the multi-level nature of change that is required. At the same time, others see norm change as too challenging. Efforts to change norms can be difficult, highly political and risk provoking backlash.

So is it worth trying to address norms? And if so what action is required? Continue reading

Can digital technologies really be used to reduce inequalities?

By Tim Unwin, Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, Royal Holloway, University of London1, and Co-Founder of TEQtogether2

Digital-technologies-inequalitiesThe numerous initiatives created over the last 20 years using Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) have transformed the lives of many people living in poorer countries. However, at the same time, they have also greatly increased the economic power and wealth of the owners and shareholders of large global technology corporations. In 2017, Oxfam reported that eight men owned the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity; five of these men made most of their wealth directly from the technology sector.3 Of course, such technologies can reduce inequalities, but the hidden, ugly secret of “digital development” is that instead of improving the lives of the poorest and most marginalised, such technologies have actually dramatically increased inequality at all scales, from the global to the local.

Few people and organisations emphasise this, focusing instead on the glass being half-full rather than half-empty. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and countless others have thus recently praised the achievement that 51.2% of the world’s population were using the Internet by the end of 2018.4 However, this means that 48.8% are still not using it. If the Internet brings benefits, then just under half of the world’s people are being structurally disadvantaged. Yet, this need not be. If we have the will to do so, we can indeed work together with people with disabilities, children at risk of living and working on the streets, refugees, women and girls in patriarchal societies, ethnic minorities, and those living in geographically isolated areas to help empower them through the design and use of relevant technologies. Continue reading

Building Evidence to Change Women’s Lives

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By Miren Bengoa, Executive Director, Fondation CHANEL


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 
Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)

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Girls benefit from Corstone in India

A saying that motivates our philanthropic work at Fondation CHANEL is that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” This humble recognition drives us in filling our blind spots through evidence building so that we can succeed in delivering on our social mission to advance women and girls in society.

As a global private donor, we select amongst many filters to decide who and what to support. But how can we make those choices with greater confidence? For the past seven years, we have built a stronger knowledge base by compiling strategies from around the world that make a difference for girls and women. By cooperating with several grassroots and development organisations, social businesses and research institutions, the Foundation is bridging some gaps in understanding what works in which contexts and how to approach the complex social changes needed to reduce gender inequalities.

So what are the key stages for uncovering the unknown?
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