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World Bank and Commonwealth launch new reports measuring and promoting gender equality

25 September 2013

The World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat launched two new publications this week centring on women in business.

'Women, Business and the Law 2014' measures how national laws, regulations and institutions differentiate between women and men in ways that may affect women’s capacity to work or set up and run businesses.

The report was launched by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London on Tuesday, 24 September.

Dr Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of Global Indicators and Analysis at the World Bank and IFC said: “In 79 countries the law restricts the types of jobs that women can do. These jobs are often in industries that are higher paying and that creates a pay gap. In the twenty-first century many of these restrictions no longer make sense.”

The Secretariat also presented 'Gender, Trade and Public Procurement Policy', which focuses on how policies for procuring goods and services for government departments can be used effectively to enhance business opportunities for women.

The procurement market often makes up to 10-15% of the GDP of developed countries and can amount for as much as 30-40% of GDP of developing countries. The report looks at how public procurement policies can be used as a tool to open up the market to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), including women’s businesses, which are often in the informal sector.

It includes case studies and lessons from four Commonwealth countries: Australia, India, Jamaica and Kenya.

Interim Director in charge of Gender, Health and Education at the Secretariat, Esther Eghobamien said: “The research has demonstrated the impact of public procurement policy as a vehicle for enhancing opportunities for SMEs and women-owned business. Any growth in that sector will translate into real gains for women living below the poverty line.”

Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General George Saibel told guests at the launch: “I hope these reports will guide you in your future work to creating a more equitable and sustainable society for all.” 

Deborah Leary, CEO of Forensic Pathways Limited, spoke about the Commonwealth Business Women’s Network – of which she is a board member - and their plans to start an academy where business women can mentor others. 

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