|Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)|
As we have seen. policies that specifically target women or girls can address the needs or this group more efficiently and with greater cost-effectiveness than general policy measures. Female household members tend to allocate resources more directly to children. while men tend to allocate more resources to adults. In households in which resources are not pooled. targeting programs to the household as a where will not necessarily benefit all members equally.
Targeting women directly is justifiable on two grounds. First, to the extent that gender inequalities prevent an economy from realizing its full potential. targeting to women can be an effective strategy for increasing productivity and output Second, where gender differences are wide, targeting may be needed to capture social gains and to increase internal efficiency.
Box 3.7 striving for gender "neutral outcomes in china
In China the introduction of compulsory education laws in 1986 was complemented by policies intended to reduce poverty and increase gender equality. The main decision underlying these policies was to devolve responsibility for primary education to local communities. The communities were expected to devise appropriate measures to raise primary enrollments, especially of girls, taking into account specific local problems. Various measures were developed, including awareness campaigns to motivate parents to enroll all children, flexible work schedules, evening classes, sibling care. and special schools for girls. The strategy succeeded in raising enrollments among both girls and boys, even in some of the poorest and most remote regions (World Bank 1994a).
Targeting women is especially when doing so contributes directly to reducing poverty; or when women have particular needs-for example. when maternal mortality is very high. The exceptionally high gender gap in educational enrollments in some countries can be reduced only by policies (including subsidies) that target girls. An obvious example would be policies that affect the private costs of schooling.
Female household members tend to allocate resources more directly to children it while men
Reducing these direct costs to households Will mean setting new public spending priorities. For example. education institutions for girls especially at the primary level, might be exempted from cost recovery measures. thus increasing the implied public spending subsidy to girls. Similarly. a far; number of publicly funded scholarships can be provided for girls' as has been done in and Guatemala.
Opportunity and travel costs can discourage parents from enrolling especially daughters in school. Some counties have tried to overcome the constraints imposed by opportunity costs by introducing flexible school hours and calendar years and providing child care for younger siblings (box 3.7). In some cases girls who are responsible for looking after their younger brothels and sisters ate allowed to bring them to school.
In countries where cultural values may prevent girls from traveling alone to school. measures are needed that will increase access to safe transport.
Box 3.8 economic reforms and gender targeting in Mongolia
Since Mongolia began its transition to a market economy in 1990, the living conditions of the population have deteriorated dramatically. According to the government's estimates, a quarter of all Mongolians are now living below the poverty line. Single women with young children are among the "new" vulnerable groups that have emerged in the wake of the transition. As of December 1993 nearly 72 percent of households headed by single persons, usually women, were estimated to have incomes below the poverty line. (About 28 percent of all households in Mongolia are headed by women). The Mongolian Women's Federation reports that the divorce rate is rising among jobless low-income couples, increasing the number of single-parent households.
Along with job loss women are affected by the decline in services such as day care and maternity homes.
Mothers now have to look after their children at home, which restricts their ability to participate in the labor market and, ironically, increases their dependence on welfare. When herds were privatized, priority was given to people who, according to the government, could take better care of the animals. Unfortunately, this policy adversely affected female-headed households.
The maternal mortality rate has doubled over the past three years. in part because many more babies are being delivered at home. Other factors that have contributed to the rising maternal mortality rate include a decrease in the number of ambulances and the need for patients to pay for the food they consume while they are hospitalized.
In Mongolia, targeting female-headed households, pregnant women, and children is essential for reducing poverty. Social assistance, health care. education, and help in finding employment are particularly important (Subbarao and Ezemenari forthcoming). change the geographic distribution of primary schools, of provide more boarding facilities. Projects in Pakistan are using school mapping techniques to establish criteria for placing new schools in currently underserved areas. Such programs benefit both girls and boys.
It may be necessary to target women when economic reforms of systemic transitions are occurring. For example, in Mongolia, as well as in other countries making the transition from a socialist to a market economy, women are disproportionately represented among the unemployed and otherwise disadvantaged (box 3.8). Thus, in designing safety nets to mitigate the short negative effects or economic transitions. policymakers need to recognize and evaluate the specific adverse effects on women
It is not always necessary to restrict a particular program of benefit exclusively to women: the objective can sometimes be achieved indirectly.
Techniques based on self-selection appear to be particularly efficient. In Zambia. where men have a strong preference for cash wages, offering wages in kind (food) attracted more women workers than men to public works programs.
In the financial sector. women entrepreneurs are enabled to borrow at market rates of interest when banking institutions adopt innovate collateral requirements, reduce transaction costs, and offer small loans at repeated intervals The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Badan Kredit Kecaman in Indonesia do not reserve loans for women specifically: instead. they adopt innovative lending policies the result of which is that women snake up the majority of participants-is 96 percent in a new branch of the Grameen Bank.