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Investing in women, girls critical to transform economies – World Bank

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The World Bank said investing in women and girls’ empowerment is critical to transform economies and improving people’s lives.

The bank said this in its regional publication on “Girl Power for Africa: Accelerating Equality in Western and Central Africa’’, on Friday as the world marks the 2024 International Women’s Day (IWD).

According to the bank, to win the development race, investing in women’s and girls’ empowerment is critical to transforming economies and improving people’s lives.

“Also making sure that half the population has access to equal opportunities and is not left behind.”

The bank said while Sub-Saharan Africa continued to advance reforms to close the legal gender gap, the recent Women Business and the Law report highlighted the broad gap between laws on paper and the reality on the ground.

It said such reforms were breaking barriers and allowing women and girls to realise their full potential.

“In Western and Central Africa, considerable progress has been made in promoting girls’ education, championing legal reforms, improving livelihood opportunities, and developing more inclusive financial systems.

“Yet, progress in some areas has not fully translated into lifting girls and women in all areas.

“Nearly six out of 10 girls in Western and Central Africa are still not in secondary school, two out of 10 bear a child as teenagers and nearly half believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife.

“A woman in the region earns significantly less than a man, regardless of whether she is a farmer, wage worker, or entrepreneur.”

The bank said the effects of intertwined crises of conflict, food security, and the continued consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, were further exacerbating existing inequalities.

Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice-President for Western and Central Africa, was quoted as saying “now is our opportunity to deliver results at scale for an equitable tomorrow.

“Educated and empowered girls and women recognise their inherent worth and will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”

The bank said investing in women and girls was the right thing to do.

The IWD is celebrated annually on March 8 to highlight women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to drive gender equality.

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