Cover Image
close this bookToward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAcknowledgments
close this folderDefinitions and Data Notes
View the documentDefinitions
View the documentData Notes
View the documentSummary
View the documentProgress to Date
View the documentWhy Do Gender Inequalities Persist?
View the documentStrategies for the Future
View the documentConclusion
close this folderChapter one
View the documentGender Inequalities Persist
View the documentEducation
View the documentHealth
View the documentEmployment Work
close this folderChapter two
View the documentGender Inequalities Hamper Growth
View the documentHousehold and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation
View the documentLinkages between Education Health, and Nutritious
View the documentHousehold and Labor Market Linkages
View the documentFormal Sector Employment
View the documentInformal Sector
View the documentAccess to Financial Markets
View the documentAccess to Lund and Property
View the documentAccess to Extension Services
View the documentConclusion
close this folderChapter three
View the documentPublic Policies Matter
View the documentEqualizing Opportunities by Modifying, the Legal Framework
View the documentLand and Property Rights
View the documentLabor Market Policies and Employment Law
View the documentFamily Law
View the documentWomen's bargaining position in relation to household
View the documentFinancial Laws and Regulations
View the documentMacroeconomic: Policies
View the documentInflation tends to hit women harder than men.
View the documentSectoral Investments
View the documentUsing Targeting Measures to Narrow the Gender
View the documentInvolving Beneficiaries in Public Policy
View the documentGenerating and Analyzing Gender-Desegregated Data
View the documentWorking in Collaboration
View the documentStrengthening International Policies to Meet New Challenges
View the documentConclusions
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences


TWENTY years ago in Mexico the First World Conference on Women inspired a movement that has helped to reduce gender inequality worldwide. Illiteracy among women is declining, maternal mortality and total fertility rates are beginning to fall. and more women are participating in the labor force than ever before. However. much remains to be done.

In low-income countries women are often denied health care and basic education. Worldwide. women face limited access to financial services, technology. and infrastructure. They are locked into relatively low-productivity work. In addition to performing household tasks and child-rearing duties, women work longer hours for lower pay than most men. And. most discouraging of all. hundreds of thousands of women each year are subject to gender-related violence.

Persistent inequality between women and men constrains a society's productivity and, ultimately slows its rate of economic growth. Although this problem has been generally recognized evidence on the need for corrective action is more controlling today than ever.

This report written for the Fourth World Conference on Women is intended as a reference to strategies for promoting gender equality and. consequently enhancing economic efficiency. It pulls together evidence, including case studies, that demonstrates the need for governor action to improve the economic status of women. It points out how public policy can and should support services and infrastructure that provide the highest social returns and that are most heavily used by women. The report also aims to stimulate creative solutions to the problem of gender inequality by high lilting innovative and sometimes not obvious strategies that have proved successful. A study in Morocco, for instance, shows that paving public roads to schools increases by 40 percent the probability that local girls will attend classes.

Policy reform that provides an enabling environment for economic growth goes hand in hand with investing in people. The success of one strategy draws on the success of the other. No efforts at gender equality. however, can be successful without the participation of women themselves.

As the international community gathers in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women, the World Bank stands ready to assist client governments in response to the challenges ahead. The Bank believes that by advancing gender equality, governments can greatly enhance the future well-being and prosperity of their people.

Armeane M. Choksi Vice President Human Capital Development and Operations Policy The World Bank