A tale of two female citizens

By Mary Waithiegeni Chege, Founder and Principal, EMSI & Associates

The African Union (AU) is very clear in its identification of infrastructure as the bedrock for development in Africa. In fact, sound infrastructure has been identified as a major contributor to economic growth, poverty reduction and attainment of the sustainable development goals. While gender equality is enshrined in the AU’s constitutive documents, recognised in all the goals of Agenda 2063 and has been prioritised through the AU’s Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE), achieving these objectives requires an understanding of the multi-faceted nature of women’s poverty and how gender-responsive infrastructure can play a pivotal role in its alleviation. The AU’s Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment specifically notes that as the continent embarks on major infrastructure projects, the coming decade offers the opportunity to open up infrastructure to greater inclusion of women in the design, implementation and benefits that ensue.    

A joint report by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and Oxford University demonstrates that infrastructure can positively influence the achievement of 92% of the targets across all 17 sustainable development goals. With 73 AU-driven priority projects spread across the transportation, energy, transboundary water and ICT sectors for implementation between 2021 – 2030 at a staggering US$270 Billion (PIDA PAP II), it is imperative that we choose to challenge the inequitable participation of women across infrastructure design, implementation and value chain operation and life cycle. The underlying driver of these projects is to promote an integrated, multi-sectoral corridor approach that is employment oriented, gender-sensitive, climate-friendly and that connects urban and industrial hubs with rural areas. Indeed, our time is here. Or is it?

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(A)head of her times. The world needs women’s talent to shape a better future

By Annalisa Primi, Head, Economic Transformation and Development Division, OECD Development Centre

She is passionate. She sees opportunities where others don’t see them. She has the strength to pursue her visions against all odds. She experiments. She builds alliances. She sets up and manages a factory putting staff well-being at the core. She becomes a successful entrepreneur. She has basic education, born in 1877 into a poor family in Umbria, Italy

It’s 1907. Women do not have patrimonial autonomy and cannot register a business in their name (the law will remain in place until 1919). Luisa Spagnoli has an intuition. She recognises that she needs support from an established market leader. She understands the importance of the distribution and market outreach strategy. She partners (using her husband’s name) with one of the leading food firms in her region (Buitoni) and she founds an artisanal laboratory that in 1909 will become the “Perugina”.  The journey of a leading multinational starts.

She experiments. She faces World War I. To continue producing, she employs and trains the wives of employees recruited for the war. In 1917 she registers the Perugina Choccolate trademark and in 1919 she opens the first distribution mono-brand store in Italy. In 1939 she opens the first one abroad, in New York. Her experimentations lead to innovations. When the war ends, she keeps her female workforce. She continues innovating.

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The psychological bases of gender differences in political and economic decisions

By Gianluca Grimalda, Senior Researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, member of the Taskforce on Social Cohesion at the ThinkTank20 group for the G20 2021 meeting, and member of the Trustlab OECD initiative

Why are women from Western countries more in favour of income redistribution than men, and why are they voting in larger numbers for left-wing parties? For instance, 55% of women backed Joe Biden in the recent U.S. elections, while only 46% of men did, according to a nationwide poll. Are women intrinsically more generous and sensitive to social issues than men, or do they believe that voting for left-wing parties will advance their cause against discrimination and unfair treatment? In a recently published article, we argue that part of the reason for this behaviour is eminently psychological, and revolves around men’s higher degree of self-confidence than women1.

The research group of which I was privileged to be part of, assembled data from two studies that had experimentally investigated the underlying factors of preferences for redistribution. Groups of 21 participants gathered at computer rooms of eight universities around the world – three in the U.S., two in Germany and Italy, and one in Norway. Each participant was assigned a different level of initial earnings. In some of the U.S. sessions, such a distribution mirrored real-life countrywide income distribution, with the one individual at the top of the earnings scale being assigned $100 while the individual at the bottom was assigned $0.11. In other sessions, the inequality gap between the top earner and the bottom earner was of 21 to 1 and the earnings distribution was uniform. Each participant was then asked how much redistribution she would desire for the group. The redistribution rate could range from 0% – in which case everyone would take home their initial earnings- to 100%, in which case everyone would go home with the same amount as anyone else. This decision was our measure of preference for redistribution.  

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COVID-19 and the Kafala system: protecting African female migrant workers in Gulf countries

By Mona Ahmed, Junior Policy Analyst, OECD Development Centre

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected women and men differently depending on the sector they work in, their employment situation and their access to labour and social protection measures. Domestic and care work, traditionally female-dominated, form one of the most marginalised, undervalued and least protected employment sectors. It therefore comes as no surprise that the current crisis has not reinvented the wheel, but rather amplified persistent vulnerabilities faced by female migrant workers.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are home to the world’s largest number of international labour migrants. According to a study carried out by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), 12% of the 28.1 million migrant workers in GCC countries in 2017 were African, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait hosting almost 90 percent. Historically a destination for South and Southeast Asian workers, the growing demand in domestic labour has attracted a considerable number of East and West African women, mostly from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. Despite their economic contribution in both origin and destination countries, the duties of child and elderly care, cleaning and food preparation are culturally devalued and receive limited social recognition.  

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Preventing a child marriage pandemic

By Gabrielle Szabo, Senior Gender Equality Adviser and Chiara Orlassino, Research Adviser, Save the Children UK


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.

Shumi, 16, avoided child marriage with the support of Jasmin, a neighbour and Save the Children-trained peer leader who runs an advocacy group for girls in the village. Photo: Tom Merilion/Save The Children/Bangaladesh

By New Year’s Eve, half-a-million girls may already have married as a result of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. New analysis from our Global Girlhood Report suggests that by 2025, 2.5 million girls may marry as children. These marriages will add to the estimated 12 million child marriages that take place every year, 2 million of which involve girls under 15 years of age.

These increases will continue over the next decade, but they are not a challenge for future leaders and communities – they are a challenge for today. The risks that set girls on a path to child marriage are already mounting, and materialising. Decision-makers and gender equality advocates must ask ourselves what we can do to stop COVID-19 triggering a child marriage pandemic now. Fortunately, our history already holds many of the answers and we are learning more about how to respond to new challenges from each other every day.

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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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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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Africa’s industrialisation: leaving no woman behind

By Li Yong, UNIDO Director General


Explore this topic further with the upcoming launch of the
2017 African Economic Outlook: Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation in Africa.
Stay tuned for details.


women-work-industry-africaAfrica must industrialise to fulfill its economic potential. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda, we need to support Africa in accelerating its development by promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.

Inclusive industrialisation means ensuring that no one is left behind, especially not women. Including women is critical, not only because gender equality is a fundamental human right, but also because it enables faster economic growth, shared prosperity and sustainable development. The 2016 Global Gender Gap report1 shows a positive correlation between gender equality and gross domestic product, economic competitiveness and human development. The economic benefits to increasing female labor force participation are real. The OECD estimates that GDP would increase by 12% if participation rates for women were to reach those of men by 2030.2 

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