By Asmau Ahmad
The World Bank Group has restated its commitment to closing disparities between men and women as the world celebrates International Women’s Day.
President of the World Bank Group, David Malpass, said this in a message titled; “The World Bank Group and International Women’s Day” posted on the World Bank blogs on Wednesday.
Malpass said the bank’s commitment to gender equality had increased in ambition over time.
“Gender and development have been an International Development Association (IDA) Special Theme since IDA16, recognising that reducing gender disparities is essential for reducing poverty.
“In IDA20, the number of gender policy commitments has increased from six to eight, with ambitious targets in areas including economic inclusion, gender-based violence prevention, and childcare.”
He said entrepreneurship offered an important path to empowerment.
Malpass said the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), based at the World Bank, was supporting tens of thousands of women entrepreneurs, with more than 1.2 billion dollars of financing to date.
He said the International Finance Corporation was working with private sector clients to promote women’s entrepreneurship and advance economic inclusion in the workplace.
“Across the World Bank Group and with partners, clients and donors, there is much work underway that aims to address gender disparities including the ID4D initiative that works to close gender gaps in financial inclusion.
“Others are efforts to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence and the Gender Innovation Labs that undertake impact evaluations to generate more evidence on how to close gender gaps.
Malpass said the labs were in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia.
He said most importantly, the bank was integrating gender in its operations worldwide.
“At the World Bank Group, we continue to hold ourselves accountable for progress on achieving more gender-inclusive recruitment, promotion, leadership development, and mentoring programmes.
“We also hold ourselves accounrable in diverse candidate pools and interview panels; enhanced career development and learning opportunities; and greater opportunities for work-life balance.
“Today, women account for 53.5 per cent of our workforce, and 43 per cent of management, a share that has grown significantly.
According to him, there is much work ahead, and International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to galvanise attention and to restate our commitment to closing disparities between men and women which is in the interests of everyone.
Malpass said that addressing critical gender gaps, including female labour force participation, offers an opportunity to boost incomes and stimulate growth.
He said research from the World Bank had repeatedly made clear that accelerating gender equality could generate significant economic gains.
According to him, the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2023 report published recently, shows that 2.4 billion women of working age do not have fully equal economic opportunity.
“In 2022, only 34 gender-related legal reforms were recorded across 18 economies, the lowest number since 2001. It is important that the pace of legal reforms accelerates.”