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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

needle on measuring device

Do Indices Move the Needle on Gender Equality?

The broad scope of the Sustainable Development Goals acknowledges that human development is multifaceted and that gender equality is crosscutting.

In the drive to measure these concepts and gauge progress, there has been a proliferation of indices in recent years. The allure of indices is twofold: they reduce complex concepts and multiple indicators into one number, and this number can be used to rank countries and, so the theory goes, drive change. In one fell swoop then, indices seem to bring simplicity, order, and transformative potential.

smiling woman at sewing machine

Helping Poor Women Grow Their Businesses with Mobile Savings, Training, and Something More?

Growing a business is not easy, and for women firm owners the challenges can be acute, especially when they are poor and run subsistence level firms. In developing countries, 22 percent of women discontinue their established businesses due to a lack of funds, and women are more likely than men to report exiting their businesses over finance problems, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Meanwhile, personal savings are a crucial source of entrepreneurial financing, and nearly 95 percent of entrepreneurs globally state that they used their own funds to start or scale up their businesses. Women, however, face unique constraints in accumulating savings to invest in growing their firms.

colleagues-collaborating

Addressing the Gender Gap in Senior Staffing at the United Nations

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said gender equality at the United Nations is “an urgent need – and a personal priority. It is a moral duty and an operational necessity.” Guterres was quick to meet his goal of gender parity in UN senior management. But 18 years past an initial 2000 target date for gender parity in the UN system as a whole, there is still a long way to go. The organization remains off track to meet the new target for parity at all levels by 2030. There is also evidence that the rate of change will be hard to boost without a new approach.

posters for male and female conductors in UK

What Laws Matter Most in Entrenching Gender Inequality Worldwide?

The Women, Business and the Law program at the World Bank has done a wonderful job of cataloguing the thousands of legal restrictions worldwide that constrain women’s abilities to be equal participants in the economy—from legislation mandating women ask a male family member for permission before opening a bank account through rules banning women from certain jobs to unequal property rights. Pairing that data with surveyed outcomes would make it an even more powerful tool.

A seamstress in Accra, Ghana. Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/imagesofempowerment.com

Empowering Women, Changing Mindsets: A Conversation on Technology and Financial Training

Eight years and millions of mobile financial transactions later, we came together again at a private CGD roundtable in London to discuss the potential of mobile banking and savings for women’s economic empowerment. We were pleased to hear the richness of research evidence and interventions on women’s financial inclusion that have emerged over the past decade. What follows are some takeaways from our deliberations, informed by this research and practice.

M-Pawa increased women’s happiness and optimism, business training had no additional significant effect (% of study participants answering ‘yes’)

The Clock is Ticking on Financial Inclusion and a Focus on Women Can Help

A sense of urgency was present at a recent World Bank Spring meeting on financial inclusion. This is not surprising, given the Bank’s ambitious goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020. Two years to go and globally about 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked—close to 1 billion of them are women. It’s clear that to meet this goal, we all must focus our efforts on women.

The Next Billion Customers: Is Technology the Key to Closing the Global Gap in Financial Services?

Over 1.7 billion adults worldwide remain unbanked, but two-thirds of them own a mobile phone that could easily connect them to the financial services they need. Governments could leverage digital payments to bring wages, pensions, and services directly to their beneficiaries. Private sector banks could provide digital accounts, loans, and savings devices to a new, previously unreached market. And these unbanked adults could have safe and secure methods to save, invest, and transfer money.

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