Promoting Gender Equality for Development: World Development Report 2012

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The World Bank, in collaboration with the African Development Bank, held a seminar to disseminate the World Bank flagship Report on World Development 2012 Gender Equality and Development, and to hold consultation on another report on Gender Equality in Africa, particularly in the region of North Africa and Middle East.

The World Development Report 2012, while pointing out that men-women equality is a fundamental development goal in itself, states that it is also an economic issue. Countries that favor gender equality also improve women’s conditions, increase their productivity, and enhance children’s living conditions, institutional inclusiveness and developmental prospects for all.

The report describes progress made in reducing inequalities between men and women. However, it shows that disparities persist in many areas. Four such areas are described as priorities:

  • Health sector, as female mortality exceeds male mortality;
  • Persistent inequalities in education;
  • Unequal pay and productivity of women and men;
  • Unequal status of men and women within the household and in society.

In Tunisia, for example, school enrollment rate for both girls and boys is close to 100 percent. More young women than young men are enrolled in higher education. Also, improvements in the health sector are significant and yield high returns.

The Regional report on Gender and Development Issues states that in order to achieve gender equality in North Africa and Middle East Region, significant efforts are needed to create jobs, promote equality in legal terms, and take concrete steps to do away with gender-related stereotypes. In 2009, in Tunisia, women represented 27 percent of workforce.

"In the region, Tunisia is known as the leader in terms of gender equality, and this is visible in everyday life, out in the streets, in government offices, or in various sectors such as education, health, or private businesses. However, this transition made it clear that women do not take things for granted, and are still struggling to maintain their rights," declared Eileen Murray, World Bank Resident Representative in Tunis.

Agnes Soucat, Director, AfDB Human Development Department, paid tribute to Tunisian women, stressing the importance of the role they played in the revolution: “Tunisia, in its endeavor to reconcile tradition and modernization, has been struggling for decades to maintain gender equality. Tunisian women reaffirmed their determination again during the Revolution of 14 January, which was not only theirs, but Arab women’s revolution. The challenge now is to keep up pro-women policies in the post-revolution era Tunisia has entered”.

To ensure continued progress, there is a need for the international community to supplement national efforts in each of the four priority areas. Also, it can support the continuation of government’s concrete actions, in supporting efforts to improve the data, assess impacts and encourage learning. The report recommends that government officials should address the stiffest gender disparities that can only be eradicated by higher revenues. Reducing inequalities between men and women can allow significant progress in terms of development.

Ana Revenga, Sector Director, World Bank, declared: "Today, because of globalization, countries endeavoring to bridge inequalities between men and women, especially in secondary and higher education, and in the economic field, have a clear advantage over those who are slow to take action in this area."


World Bank : Donia Jemail

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