Today, many more girls are going to school and living longer, healthier lives than 30 or even 10 years ago. That was the good news in our flagship 2012 World Development Report on gender. But this has not translated into broader gains. Too many women still lack basic freedoms and opportunities and face huge inequalities in the world of work. Globally, fewer than half of women have jobs, compared with almost four-fifths of men.
Girls and women still learn less, earn less, and have far fewer assets and opportunities. They farm smaller plots, work in less profitable sectors, and face discriminatory laws and norms that constrain their time and choices, as well as their ability to own or inherit property, open a bank account, or take out a loan to buy fertilizer, for example, that would boost food production for whole communities. Gender at Work looks closely at existing constraints as well as policies and practices that show promise in closing the gaps.
A companion to the 2013 World Development Report on jobs, the report advocates investing more in women’s capabilities and eliminating structural barriers such as laws that bar women from owning property, accessing financing, or working without permission from a male relative. Public and private policies and actions can promote equality over a lifetime. This includes education and training during youth and creating opportunities for women to participate in paid work during their economically productive years.
It extends to implementing
equitable old-age labor regulations combined with appropriate
social protection later in life. We need leadership and
innovation as well as scaled-up efforts to fill critical gaps in knowledge
and evidence, from the private sector, governments, science,
and media and individuals. This agenda is urgent. Failure to act
represents a huge missed opportunity. We know that reducing
gender gaps in the world of work can yield broad development
dividends: improving child health and education, enhancing poverty
reduction, and catalyzing productivity.
Empowering women and girls is vital in order to achieve our twin
goals: ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. The World Bank Group is fully committed to this agenda.