Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 34 n° 316

World Bank report

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 21 settembre 2011

The World Bank Group building in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, Gender equality matters in its own right, but is also smart economics: Countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity, improve outcomes for children, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for all, says a new World Bank flagship report. According to the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development, in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region, the stock of women’s human capital is large reflecting decades of consistent investment in women as well as men. Yet, there remain large gender differences in access to economic opportunities, earnings, and productivity. In education, relative parity exists among men and women at the primary and secondary level, but gender gaps emerge at the tertiary level with enrolment rates for women exceeding those of men. Though the overall population’s health in ECA is better on average compared to other regions, two key health issues emerged during the transition period in selected countries. First, male mortality in the region has increased, and male disadvantage in health and life expectancy is acute. Second, the issue of missing girls at birth is emerging in the South Caucasus, where up to 16 percent more boys than girls are born, an imbalance second only to China and India. Female labor force participation rates in ECA have remained largely stagnant in the past decade, and now lag behind those of OECD and East Asia and Pacific countries. Against this trend, the rapidly aging population in the region offers not only an opportunity but in many cases an imperative to include more women in the labor force to avoid a shortfall of workers and ensure adequate financing of pensions and other old-age support systems. Though women in ECA are more highly educated than men and many are professionals and technicians, women’s earnings are on average about 20 percent less than men’s. The gender gap in wages varies significantly across countries in the ECA region, and on average is comparable with what is observed in other regions of the world. Generally, women in the region are also under-represented in private sector leadership roles; and where women manage firms, they are usually operating at an inefficiently small scale (more so than men) and on average pay 0.6 percentage points higher interest rates.
The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that equal access to resources for female farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent. Eliminating barriers that prevent women from working in certain occupations or sectors would have similar positive effects, reducing the productivity gap between male and female workers by one-third to one-half and increasing output per worker by 3 to 25 percent across a range of countries.
The report argues that these patterns of progress and persistence in closing gender gaps matters for development policies. Higher incomes help close some gaps, as in education. As schools expand and more jobs open up for young women, parents see clear benefits to educating their girls. But too often, markets and institutions (including social norms around house and care work) combine with household decisions to perpetuate disparities between men and women. As part of this, gender gaps in earnings remain stubbornly unchanged in much of the world.
To ensure that progress on gender equality is sustained, the international community needs to complement domestic policy actions in each of these priority areas. It can also support evidence-based action by fostering efforts to improve data, promote impact evaluation and encourage learning.


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