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Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity

The World Bank Group's twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity demand no less than the full and equal participation of women and men, girls and boys, around the world.

Despite recent advances in important aspects of the lives of girls and women, pervasive challenges remain, frequently as a result of widespread deprivations and constraints. These often violate women's most basic rights and are magnified and multiplied by poverty and lack of education.

Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity distills vast data and hundreds of studies to shed new light on such constraints facing women and girls worldwide, from epidemic levels of gender-based violence to biased laws and norms that prevent them from owning property, working, and making decisions about their own lives.Voice and Agency

The key findings of the report include:

girls with little or no education are far more likely to be married as children, suffer domestic violence, live in poverty, and lack a say over household spending or their own health care than better-educated peers, which harms them, their children, and communities;
across 18 of the 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, girls with no education were up to six times more likely to marry than girls with high school education;
enhanced agency—the ability to make decisions and act on them—is a key reason why children of better educated women are less likely to be stunted: educated mothers have greater autonomy in making decisions and more power to act for their children's benefit.

This report identifies promising opportunities and entry points for lasting transformation, such as interventions that reach across sectors and include life-skills training, sexual and reproductive health education, conditional cash transfers, and mentoring. It finds that addressing what the has identified as an epidemic of violence against women means sharply scaling up engagement with men and boys. It also underlines the vital role information and communication technologies (ICT) can play in amplifying women's voices, expanding their economic and learning opportunities, and broadening their views and aspirations.

"This work is an important contribution to supporting women in their own visions and strategies development, and for inclusive growth and development of countries."
—Winnie Byanyima,
Executive Director, Oxfam International

"Women's equal, full participation—their voice and agency—is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing, and that it will make a difference to the prosperity and stability of societies."
— Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Former U.S. Secretary of State

"It is a must-read for all those who want to take decisive action to eradicate poverty and create wealth for our citizens at the bottom end of the ladder."
— Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
Coordinating Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria


Latin America and the Caribbean
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