Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity
In the World Bank‘s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development (WDR2012), women’s voice, agency and participation were identified as a key dimension of gender equality and major policy priority, alongside endowments and opportunities.
- Voice is being able to speak up and be heard, and to shape and share in discussions, discourse and decisions.
- Agency is being able to make decisions about one’s own life and act upon them, to achieve desired outcomes free of violence, retribution or fear.
This major new report distills an array of data, studies and evidence to shine a spotlight on the pervasive deprivations and constraints that face women and girls worldwide—from epidemic gender-based violence to laws and norms that prevent women from owning property, working, making decisions about their own lives and having influence in society. It identifies some promising programs and interventions to address these deprivations and constraints.
The report calls on policy makers and stakeholders to tackle this agenda by drawing on evidence about what works and systematically tracking progress on the ground. This must start with reforming discriminatory laws and follow through with concerted policies and public actions, including multi-sectoral approaches that engage with men and boys and challenge adverse social norms. There is much to gain. Increasing women’s voice and agency is a valuable end in its own right. And it underpins achievement of the World Bank Group’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity for girls and boys, women and men, around the world.
The report also focuses on the social norms that discriminate against women. Qualitative work for the WDR2012 found that when norms and agency change together, they do so in
the context of an enabling environment that affects not only opportunities, but also individuals’ capacity to aspire to them. Country experience illustrates how norms can change in response to policy.Find out more: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTGENDER/Resources/World_Bank_Voice_Agency_and_Participation_concept_note_Dec_1.pdf (p.9)