At ONE, you will often hear the jargon “siloed,” “cross-cutting” and “lens” when referring to our issues affecting global poverty. In reality, all the issues are cross-cutting and work hand-in-hand toward worldwide development. One lens that is important to ONE and gaining the attention of the international community is gender and its role in development objectives. So, let’s put on our gender glasses and take a look at what is happening around this topic.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the World Bank’s Open Forum on Gender: “Getting to EQUAL.” The live webcast was hosted by CNN International’s Hala Gorani with a renowned panel of experts including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Nike Foundation Founder and CEO Maria Eitel and many others. In conjunction, the World Bank just published the 2012 Gender Equality and Development report with the main premise that positioning women in development efforts is simply smart economics. Increases in gender equality will create gains in productivity and therefore, improvements in development outcomes.
The panel lists discussed numerous ways to bridge the gender gap from creating female role models for girls, engaging communities in conceptual gender equality, and to connecting girls to sports and leadership opportunities. It was evident that not one method could be used for solving the same problem in diverse communities, but a means that can be unanimous in all arenas.
Educating every girl can help break the cycle of poverty. Research shows that providing girls with just an extra year of schooling can increase individual wages by up to 20 percent, and consequentially lower birth rates, enabling the next generation to have increased health care and better education for their children.
The Millennium Development education goal is to ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Institutions and organizations like the United Nations Girls Education Initiative, the Global Partnership for Education, the Girl Effect and many others are helping to swing the focus towards girls’ education through monetary investment and awareness building, but there is still much to be accomplished to ensure the education and equality of women.