How we all benefit when women have access to finance

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By Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO, Women’s World Banking


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
Global Forum on Development on 5 April 2017.
Register today to attend!


shutterstock_453468400The International Finance Corporation estimates that approximately 65% of women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing economies are either unserved or underserved financially 1. For a women entrepreneur, this means the odds are already stacked against the growth potential of her business. Giving women access to credit and other financial tools will not only help those businesses, it will also help us achieve critical Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This gap in access to capital for women-led SMEs exists despite significant contributions by these businesses to gross domestic product and employment. Women-owned businesses account for approximately 40% of the world’s 340 million informal micro, small and medium enterprises and one-third of the 40 million formal SMEs 2. A projected 112 million female business owners also employ at least one other person in their business 3.

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Changing social norms through entertainment education: the case of a soap opera in India

By Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India

 

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A promotional activity is held for Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, in Bhourikala Village, India’s state of Madhya Pradesh

“You forced me into marriage. I wanted to study.”
“What difference is that gonna make! Are you going to be the Prime Minister?”
“Yes. I will become the Prime Minister.”

This powerful exchange between key characters in a soap opera demonstrates reel life emulating real life.
In 2011, the Population Foundation of India (PFI) set out to use the soap opera Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH) or I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything as the centre of a transmedia initiative that leverages the power of entertainment education to change social norms. At the heart of the soap opera are the struggles and triumphs of Sneha, a doctor working in Mumbai, as she journeys from the city to her village, emotionally torn between family and society, between professional aspirations and personal commitment.

But why pursue entertainment education and what has been the experience?

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Gender and Skilled Immigration: Challenges and Recommendations

By Dr Anna Boucher, University of Sydney

woman-looking-forwardWith population ageing occurring in all advanced industrial nations, immigration policy is one key way to augment the skill base of domestic labour forces. Though the economic benefit of skilled immigration for receiving states has been a central policy focus globally, the equity considerations of such policies have attracted less attention. Yet, in the global race for human capital, gender equality matters.

Research demonstrates that while women comprise an equal proportion of migrant stock globally, they are underrepresented within skilled immigration flows (Brücker et al 2013 and Piper and Yamanaka 2008). This is particularly true of women from key developing countries in the global South (i.e. Sharma 2006: 129). These data stand despite the increasing educational achievements of women globally, which suggests that governments utilise factors other than educational status to assess “skill” within selection criteria (Brücker et al 2013). As such, labour migration is segmented by both country of origin and by gender. Considering these factors is important for understanding intersectional equality as gender discrimination can operate alongside other forms of disadvantage.

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Empowering women is key to improving food security and resilience in West Africa

By Richard Clarke, Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) Secretariat

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Fish processing facility in Togo

Food insecurity remains unacceptably high in West Africa. According to the Food Crisis Prevention Network, nearly 9.5 million people in the region required food assistance as well as measures to protect their livelihoods and combat malnutrition between June and August 2016, despite significant improvements since the 1990s. FAO data also shows that changing trends have seen women representing approximately 50% of the agricultural labour force on the African continent, while IFAD estimates that women contribute 89% of agricultural employment in Sahelian countries. Thus, women’s contributions to food systems across West Africa have both widespread implications and prospects for food security and resilience in the region, a subject upon which Donatella Gnisci has written a paper for the OECD/SWAC West African Papers Series.   Continue reading

Habitat III decisions crucial for the future of Africa’s cities

By Greg Foster, Area Vice-President, Habitat for Humanity, Europe, Middle East and Africa

habitat-3Africa will have some of the fastest growing cities in the world over the next 50 years. Unless something is done, and done soon, millions more will flood into unplanned cities and live in already overcrowded informal settlements and slums. It would appear as if the United Nation’s Habitat III conference, which happens every 20 years, and New Urban Agenda couldn’t come at a better time.

Habitat III’s goals sound simple — develop well-planned and sustainable cities, eradicate poverty and reach full employment, and respect human rights. Being able to leverage the key role of cities and human settlements as drivers of sustainable development in an increasingly urbanised world, the meeting will seek political commitment to promote and realise sustainable urban development. This could be a watershed moment for Africa’s cities. But critical challenges stand in the way of making Africa’s cities economic powerhouses, centres for exchanging ideas, and places that meld cultures and peoples. Three actions are needed. Continue reading

Gender discrimination in social institutions and long-term growth

By Gabriela Ramos, Special Counsellor to the OECD Secretary-General, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20 

Read this post in Spanish

Women’s economic empowerment remains a critical challenge around the globe. Only half of working-age women are in the labour force, earning on average 24% less than men and are less likely to receive a pension (UN Women, 2015). Women are also disproportionately concentrated in informal and precarious employment, and they spend nearly two and a half more times than men in unpaid care and domestic work (OECD 2014). In schools, girls are less likely to choose STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers, choosing other options that are less promising. Continue reading

Women’s empowerment in West Africa: Increasing access to reproductive health services and rights is crucial

In this guest blogpost Marie Stopes International (MSI) responds to our call for contributions on the state of women’s empowerment in West Africa. We asked: What specific aspects of the gender agenda are identified as priorities in the region? Susan Sandars, MSI West Africa Policy Advisor, emphasises how universal access to reproductive health services and rights is essential for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

MSI counselling West AfricaLast month in New York representatives of 193 countries met to agree 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to end poverty, fight inequality and promote prosperity, while protecting the environment, by 2030. Whilst praising the agreement reached, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, highlighted that these goals could not be achieved without ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment.[1] Continue reading