Archive for October 8, 2011


October 8, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Gracious day from the Pearl of the Orient!

“Empowering women powers nations,” declared Robert Zoellick of the World Bank in one of his more recent policy and governance speeches. I could hardly disagree with the contention.

Cognizant of the fact that half of any nation’s population is female, disempowering women means wasting human resources in the doldrums. Such human resource waste has multiplier effects in the national wealth production. The more disempowered are the women, the poorer they are.

Not only that, empowered women also contribute to capacity building as teachers, specialists, experts, trainors. Disempower women, and the result is the nation will be faced only with its local men doing capacity-building efforts. Faced with expertise problems in education and capacity-building, the nation concerned will be compelled to hire foreign specialists and experts to fill in the gap.

Below is the insightful and informative speech of the Hon. Zoellick on the subject.

[Philippines, 07 October 2011]


Op-Ed: Empowering Women Powers Nations

First appeared in Politico on September 19, 2011

By: Robert B. Zoellick

Imagine if a city of almost four million people disappeared every year. A Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Yokohama. It would be hard to miss.

Yet it goes largely unnoticed that almost four million girls and women “go missing” each year in developing countries when compared to their female counterparts in developed countries. About two-fifths are never born; a sixth die in early childhood, and more than a third die in their reproductive years.

High mortality rates are just one of many barriers to equality between men and women, as argued in the World Bank’s new report. Equality is not just the right thing to do. It’s smart economics. How can an economy achieve full potential if it ignores, sidelines or fails to invest in half its population?

The world has taken significant steps over the past 25 years toward narrowing the gaps between men and women in education, health and labor markets.

Today, girls and boys participate equally in primary education in most developing countries; a third have more girls in secondary school than boys. At the university level, women now outnumber men in more than 60 countries.

Women are using their education to participate increasingly in the labor force, diversify their time beyond housework and childcare and shape their communities, economies and societies. Women now make up more than 40 percent of the global labor force — including a large share of the world’s entrepreneurs and farmers.

This pace of change has been remarkable: For example, what took the United States 40 years to achieve in increasing girls’ school enrollment, Morocco did in a decade.

Other dimensions of equality, however, portray a more disturbing picture.

Girls who are poor, live in remote areas or belong to minority groups still cannot attend school as easily as boys. Women are more likely than men to work in low-paying occupations, to farm smaller plots and to manage smaller firms in less profitable sectors.

Whether workers, farmers or entrepreneurs, women earn less than men: 20 percent less in Mexico and Egypt; 40 percent less in Georgia, Germany or India; 66 percent less in Ethiopia. Women —especially poor women— have less say over decisions and less control over household resources than men. Women’s voice and representation in society, business and politics is significantly lower than men’s — with little difference between poor and rich countries.

Leveling the playing field for women would offer huge potential.

Talk to Julian Omalla. This Ugandan business woman had trouble getting a loan in 2007. She was not alone. Ugandan women owned nearly 40 percent of registered businesses, our research showed, but got less than 10 percent of commercial credit. Since Omalla gained access to credit, thanks to Uganda’s DFCU Bank and the World Bank’s private sector arm the IFC, her food and beverage company has thrived. Today it employs hundreds of people.

Much more can be done to stop women from being economically marginalized.

Equalizing access to fertilizers, and other inputs for female and male farmers, for example, could increase agricultural yields in much of Africa by 11 percent to 20 percent. Removing obstacles to women that block certain sectors and occupations could raise output per worker by 3 percent to 25 percent — depending on the country. Legal reforms that would allow women to own land and businesses, or inherit property, can free them to become economic agents of change.

Putting resources in the hands of women has shown to be good not just for them, but also for their children. It increases a child’s chances of survival, health and nutrition and school performance.

Empowering women to use their talents and skills can boost countries’ competitiveness and support growth —a valuable, under-used resource in an uncertain global economy. During the 2008 financial crisis, women’s incomes helped keep many families afloat —hence the importance of ensuring that women’s productivity and incomes are not held down by market or institutional barriers, or overt discrimination.

This challenge is not just about developing countries. Around the world, one in 10 women will be sexually or physically abused by a partner, or someone she knows, over her lifetime.

The World Bank’s new report calls for action in four areas:

• addressing human capital issues, like the higher mortality of girls and women, through investment in clean water and maternal care and persistent disadvantages in education through targeted programs;

• closing the earning and productivity gaps between women and men — by improving access to productive resources; water and electricity, and childcare;

• increasing participation by women in decisions made within households and societies; and

• limiting gender inequality across generations, by investing in the health and education of adolescent boys and girls, creating opportunities to improve their lives and offering family planning information.

We have seen that focused policy attention can make a difference. Sustainable solutions are best grounded in partnerships including families, the private sector, governments, development agencies and religious and civil society groups.

Even in the most traditional societies and poorest villages, I have seen that when women gain opportunities to earn more for their families, it quickly overcomes men’s suspicions — or even initial hostility.

But people often need a project that sparks a changed outlook. The poorest countries can accomplish much more with financial help. The World Bank will invest, in part, because the economic payoffs are large.

Gender equality is the right thing to do. And it is also smart economics.

Robert B. Zoellick is the president of the World Bank Group. Their new report, “World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development,” was released Monday.

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October 8, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Energy revolution refers to the grand goal of providing energy for all. Among the latest core programs of the United Nations, the Energy for All buzzwords are now making ripples across borders. Hopefully, it will find sufficient support from country stakeholders beyond the glamorous “take off your lights for 1 hour” hype using showbiz celebrities.

Energy for All shouldn’t be scaled up at the expense of ecological balance however. Rather, it should be guided by the emerging framework of clean energy, which then renders the thematic goal as compatible with intervention measures that address climate change.

The position of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization or UNIDO is in synch with such a cognitive frame, and this makes me supportive of the program. Below is the report from the UNIDO about the interface of energy revolution and climate change intervention.

[Philippines, 07 October 2011]

Climate change efforts and an energy revolution should walk hand in hand, says UNIDO Director-General
Friday, 16 September 2011
JOHANNESBURG, 16 September 2011 – The Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh K. Yumkella, said today that meeting climate change goals requires nothing short of an energy revolution that would provide sustainable energy for all.

Speaking at a meeting of African Energy Ministers in Johannesburg, which is working towards improved integrated energy planning and ensuring the design and development of sound energy projects that can alter Africa’s energy pathway, he said: “We cannot solve climate change without an energy revolution – they are interconnected. Although both are often portrayed in terms of challenges, there are also huge opportunities for Africa’s economy and its people.”

According to South African Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, only 42 per cent of the continent’s population has access to electricity, with the rate for sub-Saharan Africa being as low as 31 per cent – the lowest rate of any region in the world. At a minimum, the Ministers aim to double the existing generating capacity in sub-Saharan Africa in the next 7 or 8 years.

Yumkella also emphasized that Africa will not be able to develop socially or economically without ensuring that all people have access to modern, clean energy services. This requires a clear focus on providing sustainable energy. He urged leaders to focus on practical energy projects, and set clear goals and targets at global climate negotiating forums and beyond.

The two-day conference, which ends today, adopted the Johannesburg Declaration, which includes an initial list of priority energy infrastructure projects.

The Declaration has identified a range of priorities, among them to dramatically expand access to modern, clean, high-quality energy services; develop energy security by scaling-up regional power supply and transmission; reduce climate change vulnerability; prioritizing clean energy; secure financial resources; and build the technology and innovation capacity.

Participants at the event also agreed to support the expansion of generation capacity with emphasis on regional projects; enhance funding for policy and institutional development activities; and cooperate closer on energy planning and international cooperation, as well as on regional trade and energy resource development.
To download the Johannesburg Declaration (PDF), please click here
To read Michael Liebreich’s speech, click here
For more information on UNIDO, please contact:

Mikhail Evstafyev
UNIDO Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
Telephone: (+43-1) 26026-5021
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-7329