The World Bank 2019 Annual Meetings: Learning Poverty: Building the Foundation of Human Capital
GivHOPE attended the meeting about African Voices: African voices about African priorities also highlighted the critical role of women in driving progress in Africa. African leaders and CSO advocates were invited to discuss how to break down persistent barriers to women’s economic empowerment and create more and better opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship for women, especially as lending credit to women entrepreneurs is concerned. Starting and growing a business is one of the most powerful tools for women to build a better future for themselves and their communities. Concrete and feasible solutions were proposed and some innovative mechanisms to help women design good bankable projects such as the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF) were highlighted. These innovative partnerships featured rising women entrepreneurs from emerging markets.
As for poverty alleviation, the world has made tremendous progress in ending extreme poverty. Nearly 1.1 billion fewer people are living in extreme poverty now than in 1990, most of whom are the young people and women. However, the pace of reduction has slowed considerably, and the world faces challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made. The countries, at various levels of development, have shown that it is possible to rapidly reduce extreme, they said. This led the speakers to talk about the priorities of IDA 19: They tackled the world urgent
challenges that threaten to undermine development progress and outlined IDA19.
framework for the next 3-year lending cycle. They showcased development solutions that overcome rural hurdles of distance, disempowerment, degradation and climate vulnerability to promote greater economic inclusive inclusion and resilience. We were inspired by entrepreneurs, educators, farmers and policy makers who fight against rural pessimism and demand that we pay attention to a critically underserved population. IDA champions from around the world issued a call to action in support of an ambitious, impressive and impactful IDA19.
We were impressed by the role the World Bank Group and IMF give to women and the CSO. They voices are heard and actions from them taken into consideration, especially in the domain of women’s entrepreneurship. We were also satisfied with the number of women on the different panels and among the different key speakers who addressed issues concerning CSOs and others really defended women’s and youth’s causes. We are sure that things are moving in the right direction to the benefit of women who formerly were voiceless. Ms. Kristalina Georgieva was very vocal on gender issues and changes that need to be done to reverse this situation to our full satisfaction.
The role of Fund. Georgieva argued that the IMF has a role in bringing forward analytical work on the effects of gender inequality. IMF research shows that countries cannot fully prosper without tapping into all its talent. For example, Sweden’s GDP would be 4 percent higher if women fully participated in the economy on equal terms, and in Senegal GDP would be 8 percent higher. She also added that research shows that companies are more profitable when they have more women on their boards, because diverse teams contribute to better decisions.
How to promote change. Georgieva stressed that while political will is needed to take concrete steps, cultures take time to change. As an example of concrete action, she mentioned India where measures had been taken to improve transit security for women, thus allowing more women to go to work. Other practical measures include taxation that favors female labor force participation and child care provision. In response to a question on what men can do to help, Georgieva said that it is important that men recognize the historical injustice and that we now are working to correct it. When asked by a participant in the audience about legislation of quotas of women in boards, she spoke in favor of quotas, noting that while they are not a perfect solution, they constitute a practical means to achieve concrete change.
Youth and inequality, Schulze presented evidence showing that income inequality is even worse for the younger generations. With aging populations, the financing of pay-as-you-go social assistance programs and pensions is shifting the burden on to the youth. Grasso emphasized that it is important to hear the voice of young people on how to tackle these issues.
Climate change and inequality. Although low and middle-income countries are responsible for only a small percentage of global greenhouse gases, they are disproportionately affected by climate change. Walsh noted that climate change may exacerbate existing inequalities. Gopinath agreed and emphasized that climate change is a medium- to long-run problem that needs to be dealt with urgently.
Urbanization and inequality. An often overlooked issue is the large inequities within cities. Cities are often the home to both the highest earners and the most dispossessed. Gooptu noted that the rapid urbanization may thus lead to larger inequality.
Tackle inequality. Walsh stressed that proper institutions, multilateral cooperation, and an international climate fund are needed to tackle climate change and the rising inequality. Gooptu noted that a smart and data-driven urban planning framework, enabled by effective public-private partnerships, is crucial to reduce inequality
Success stories. Swan underscored that, in terms of best practice, equity in tax systems and expenditure is critical for ensuring buy-in for tax reform. Goldin highlighted Denmark and France as good examples of countries that have been able to successfully tax and redistribute income, positively impacting the lives of their citizens. Byanyima noted that Ethiopia, even with its limited resources, was successful at expanding education to all children
Some quotes: “Social investment is a rights-based issue. People have the right to healthcare. They have the right to education. They have the right to social protection” Deborah Greenfield
“Aspiration is only possible when people are lifted up by fundamental investment in health and education” Wayne Swan
“Climate change is such a global problem and if just one country does something, it is not going to make a big difference.” Lyndsay Walsh
“Start big and think about the small mechanisms that may cause the policy failure, so we can get more tangible solutions.” Tarik Gooptu.