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World Bank World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality

28th March, 2012

Launch of World Bank’s World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality & Development

Gender equality can increase productivity, improve development outcomes for the future generation, and make institutions more representative – it is a core development objective and is the right thing to do.

These were the sentiments shared by leading World Bank experts during the launch of the “World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality and Development” and the “East Asia

Pacific Gender Companion Study” at the University of the South Pacific’s Laucala Campus on 27 March.

The launch was held in partnership between the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) at USP, World Bank and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The publication was officially launched by the Minister Counsellor of AusAID, Mr John Davidson.

Key findings from both the studies were presented by Ms Ana Maria Munoz Boudet, Gender Specialist and Core Team Member of the WRD 2012, Mr Andrew Mason, Lead Economist and Regional Gender Coordinator for World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Region, and Dr Priya Chattier, Gender Studies Coordinator at USP and Lead Researcher for Fiji based fieldwork informing WDR 2012.

The new report highlights that improvements in gender equality have been made across East Asia and the Pacific, but disparities still remain among a number of important areas. The report also states that promoting gender equality, in economic opportunities and in voice in society promotes better development outcomes, including higher productivity, increased growth and higher poverty reduction.

In his official address, Mr Davidson pointed out that the Australian Government is committed to remain a firm, consistent and practical supporter to gender equality.

He said that the report and companion piece present an analysis of gender equality issues, progress to date, and recommend priorities for domestic policy action to close gender gaps in the region.

“The work of the World Bank and analytical reports such as the WDR 2012 provide the evidence base and policy recommendations to guide our work in this critical area of development,” Mr Davidson added.

“AusAID played a large part in funding the report and commends the work done by the World Bank and USP for hosting the launch of the WDR 2012,” the Minister Counsellor further added.

The Acting Dean of FALE, Dr Bruce Yeates in his opening remarks, stated that the launch of the World Bank’s WDR 2012 was hugely significant given its focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“This year, the theme of the World Bank’s flagship publication is gender equality and the report presents global findings on the role of gender equality in development in general and economic development in particular,” Dr Yeates said.

Dr Yeates highlighted that evidence in the WDR 2012 shows that improvements in opportunities for women and girls will not happen automatically with economic growth and that strong and targeted public action is critical.

He added that the report offers how greater gender equality can boost productivity and make a country more prosperous.

The report also focuses on four priority areas for policy going forward which are; reducing female mortality and closing education gaps where they remain; improving access to economic opportunities for women; increasing women’s voice and agency in the household and society; and limiting the reproduction of gender in equality across generation.

Dr Yeates stressed that, “USP as the leading regional institution in the Pacific envisions to be fulfilling three of the priority areas through making education accessible to girls and women in the Pacific region.”

“The WDR 2012 can have a significant impact on development thinking and practice at the national, regional and international levels and must be translated into a concrete implementation plan that results in meaningful development outcomes for women and girls,” he added.

Team Leader for Fiji based research for the WDR 2012, Dr Chattier, who presented the findings of qualitative assessment in Fiji, shared that the WDR 2012 is an important contribution in the study of gender, development and gender justice by pulling together new and existing evidence.

Dr Chattier highlighted that across six communities in the study gender gap in education in not large, but still affected by traditional gender norms on mobility of girls in rural settings.

“However, transition from school to labor market was much easier for males than females because of transport problem posing restrictions on female mobility after dark and longer distances involved in commuting from rural communities to a town centre for jobs and accessing markets”, she said.

In concluding, Dr Chattier noted that “eradication of inequality will require shifts in power relationships, social norms and values, rather than simply institutional fixes such as new laws and regulations.”

Dr Chattier sees USP’s Gender Studies programme in solidifying intellectual support for important shifts in “smart” development thinking towards gender equality in the Pacific.

A panel discussion on the theme “Towards Gender Equality in the Pacific” was also held following the launch with representatives from the UN Women, AusAID and Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) as panellists.


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