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World Bank steps up efforts to fight gender-based violence

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 28 Feb 2013 06:54 AM
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By Stella Dawson

WASHINGTON (TrustLaw) - The World Bank is ramping up its efforts for global policymakers to address gender-based violence, proposing an agenda for improving the status of women and directing more research toward the economic and social costs of violence.

The World Bank plans to hold a panel discussion on gender violence in South Asia when finance ministers gather in Washington for the World Bank’s spring meetings in April as a way to highlight the need to target resources toward the issue.

The brutal gang rape and murder in December of a student travelling on a public bus in Delhi underlines just how much further the world needs to go in order to protect women and girls, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Wednesday.

Kim in a Huffington Post blog outlined three priority areas - enforcing laws to jail rapists and those who abuse women; significantly increasing women’s political voice; and ensuring that women have basic freedoms and equality under the law.

“I will do whatever it takes to ensure that we at the World Bank are helping to lead the way forward,” Kim wrote in the blog, noting that 510 million women will be abused in their lifetime and that a woman dies every one and half minutes in childbirth in developing countries.

COST OF VIOLENCE

Too little is known about women’s status - their earnings, property ownership and political voice, let alone the economic costs to a country of gender-based violence, Kim said. One way forward is to collect better data to measure progress toward equality. To this end, the World Bank plans to double to 20 the number of countries for which it collects this type of data and then continue expanding the number, he said.

Preliminary research shows the cost of wages lost by women in India from domestic violence at $18 per attack, and the cost of women seeking medical care and their inability to perform housework at $47 per incident, according to Martin Rama, South Asia chief economist for the World Bank. He will present more detailed findings at the spring meetings of the World Bank and a June conference in South Asia.

The World Bank has launched a contest via Twitter this week asking young people in South Asia, aged 18 to 25, to send their ideas in 140 characters or less on what it would take to end gender-based violence in their countries. The deadline is March 15 and the hashtag is #endgbv.

Kim also pledged within four years to have a balance of men and women in leadership positions at the World Bank.

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