The food economy can create more jobs for West African youth

By Léopold Ghins and Koffi Zougbédé, OECD Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat 

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Muhammad Sanyang, General Manager of MBK Farms, Banjul, Gambia.
© SWAC/OECD

Youth employment and job creation loom high on development agendas in West Africa. The issue is also a priority at the continental and international levels: decent work and youth empowerment are priority areas within the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and ‘youth and jobs in the Sahel’ will figure prominently amongst talks at the G7 Summit which begins this Saturday in Biarritz.

Such policy focus is necessary in view of the demographic realities in the region. Although unemployment is low overall, informality remains prevalent, and growing numbers of young people struggle to access attractive training or sources of income. West African economies need to create more and better jobs. Yet, from a policy perspective, how to support decent and inclusive job creation is not always clear. Trade-offs in public resource allocations across sectors and information gaps abound.

In this context, what and where are the opportunities for policymakers willing to address the challenge of decent job creation? Continue reading

The Case for Gender-Smart Work Policies: Key to Equality, Good for Business

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By Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel


This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCBM seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model based on a common, holistic and integrated set of economic, social, environmental and ethical rights-based principles. Read more about the HCBM here, and check out an event about it here

The HCBM project originated in 2015 within the World Bank’s Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development and is now based at the OECD’s Development Centre

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


We have witnessed numerous efforts to enhance gender equality throughout the past decade. Legal reforms are taking place worldwide, and discriminatory laws are slowly being struck down in favour of parity.[1] But despite developments in employment laws, inequality persists. Women’s labour participation has been stagnant, and last year, the already low number of female CEOs tumbled even further.[2] As the provider of 90% of jobs worldwide,[3] the private sector plays a significant role in the push for gender equality in employment. By adopting gender-smart policies, companies may be able to fill the gaps unaddressed by laws and minimise the impacts of inequality in the workplace. Although not all women work in these institutions, such policies are nonetheless impactful for those who do and could set in motion a new and replicable culture of work – one that is both business-smart and more gender-inclusive. Continue reading

Taking gender in trade more seriously

By Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Trade, Sweden


This blog is part of a special series marking the 3 July 2019 launch in Geneva of the joint OECD/WTO publication Aid for Trade at a Glance


AFT coverThe 2030 Agenda strengthens the prominence of international trade as both a goal of and a means to sustainable development. It also recognises the importance of Aid for Trade. Sweden, for one, is highly dedicated to these commitments and supportive of the Aid for Trade initiative. Additionally, as the Foreign Trade Minister of the world’s first officially feminist government, I use the WTO’s and EU’s free trade agreements as well as Aid for Trade as important platforms for pushing forward the gender equality agenda.

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Aid for Trade can advance women’s entrepreneurship, empowerment, equality

By Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation, The Netherlands


 This blog is part of a special series marking the 3 July 2019 launch in Geneva of the joint OECD/WTO publication Aid for Trade at a Glance


AFT coverImproving women’s economic opportunities and removing barriers to their participation in regional and international trade are essential for pursuing economic development and achieving fairer and beneficial outcomes for all. These are amongst the guiding principles of Dutch policy on foreign trade and development co-operation.

In this light, it is crucial that the work initiated by the Buenos Aires declaration on gender and women’s economic empowerment continues. At the same time, we must remain committed to implementing the Aid for Trade agenda. And a key part of that agenda is addressing women’s economic empowerment, the gender gap and women’s entrepreneurship as well as creating not just more jobs, but also better jobs, for women. Women are still more likely than men to experience unfavourable and even dangerous working conditions.

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Three trade challenges for LDCs to converge and eradicate poverty

By Anabel González, Nonresident Senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics; Former Costa Rica Minister of Trade, World Bank Senior Director for Trade & Competitiveness, and World Trade Organization Director for Agriculture


This blog is part of a special series marking the 3 July 2019 launch in Geneva of the joint OECD/WTO publication Aid for Trade at a Glance 


AFT coverBangladesh is preparing to graduate from the category of least developed countries (LDCs). Robust multi-year economic growth of more than 6-7% has helped this South Asian nation make remarkable progress in reducing extreme poverty from 44.2% in 1991 to 13.9% in 2017. In parallel, life expectancy, literacy rates and per capita food production have increased significantly. Rapid growth enabled Bangladesh to reach the lower middle-income country status in 2015; it now aspires to become an upper middle-income country by its 50th anniversary in 2021. Trade has been at the heart of this success story (see Figure 1). Exports of textiles and garments are driving integration into the global economy, with new products becoming part of the country’s export basket. Will Bangladesh be able to continue to rely on trade for increased growth? Will conditions remain for other LDCs to follow?

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Podcast: Can a TV show change gender discrimination in India?

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India-PFI, in conversation with Gaelle Ferrant, Economist for the OECD Development Centre’s Gender Team

Poonam Muttreja is the Executive Director of Population Foundation of India-PFI. She has over 35 years of experience in promoting women’s health – reproductive and sexual rights, rural livelihoods, public advocacy, and behaviour change communication. Under her direction, the successful Indian television show, “I, a woman, can achieve anything”, is promoting behaviour change to improve the lives of women and men in the country.

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Tackling Employer-Supported Childcare: A journey from why to how

By Rudaba Zehra Nasir, Global Lead for Tackling Childcare and Women’s Employment, IFC Gender Secretariat [@RudabaNasir]


The OECD Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment aims to generate evidence and guidance for policy makers and development partners on how to unlock women’s economic potential. The latest publication, “Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment: New approaches to unpaid care work in developing countries”, presents evidence-based analysis and policy guidance on what works to recognise, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work and achieve SDG 5.4 as an entry point for promoting women’s economic empowerment in developing countries. Accessible quality childcare is one solution where both governments and the private sector can contribute, as explored further in this blog.

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My son calls me ‘Aunty’

Shazia, a mother to a toddler, migrated to Dhaka to work at a garment factory. “When I visit my village, my son calls me ‘Aunty,’” she says, with tears in her eyes. Separated from his mother for long periods of time, the son barely knows her.

I met Shazia last year at the factory where she works. She feels conflicted about leaving her son in her mother-in-law’s care. “Sometimes I think about quitting my job and going back to raise him myself.”

Shazia is not alone. The more parents we talk to in focus groups, interviews and surveys from Bangladesh to Fiji, the more it becomes clear that they share similar stories. Parents report feeling stressed and guilty, taking time off from work or being present but not productive, quitting due to lack of family-friendly workplace support, and low levels of awareness and trust in available childcare options.

Continue reading