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On March 5, 2024, the World Bank Group launched the Women, Business and the Law 2024 report. The report finds that women enjoy only two-thirds of the legal rights that men do and that the gender gap is wider than laws on the books might suggest due to insufficient legal implementation.

During the event, Indermit Gill discussed how removing legal discrimination against women could double the global economic growth rate. Tea Trumbic presented the report’s main findings. Amanda Ellis and Menna Farouk emphasized the risks of restricted mobility and safety to women’s labor force participation. Norman Loayza moderated a panel with Hon. Minister Dr. Isata Mahoi, Hon. Minister Ien, Jamille Bigio, and Hana Brixi on legal and policy pathways to advance women’s economic empowerment. Secretary General Martin Chungong concluded by encouraging policymakers to use the report to drive both gender equality and sustainable development.

Follow the event on Twitter #WomenBizLaw and #WomensDay

00:00 Welcome

- Amanda Ellis, Senior Director, ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

01:45 Opening Remarks 

- Indermit Gill, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Development Economics, World Bank Group

05:49 Presentation of 2024 Report Key Findings

- Tea Trumbic, Manager, Women, Business and the Law, World Bank Group

19:31 Driving Change: A Conversation on the Challenges to Women's Mobility and Harassment Prevention

- Menna Farouk, CEO and Co-founder, Dosy

27:13 Panel Discussion on Ways to Advance Women's Economic Empowerment

- Hon. Dr. Isata Mahoi, Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Sierra Leone
- Hon. Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, Canada
- Jamille Bigio, Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, USAID 
- Hana Brixi, Global Director for Gender, World Bank Group
- Moderated by Norman V. Loayza, Director, Global Indicators Group, World Bank Group

1:03:09 Message for Policymakers

- Martin Chungong, Secretary General, Inter-Parliamentary Union 

1:05:47 Closing Remarks

- Amanda Ellis, Senior Director, ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

[Amanda Ellis] Welcome to the World Bank Group in Washington, DC. We're so glad that you could join us here in person in this packed room and online from all around the world for the launch of Women, Business and the Law 2024. Over the next hour, we'll be discussing the report's findings and how they can be used both to advance women's rights and economic development. Our distinguished guests will share their experiences in breaking down barriers in laws, in policy and in institutions to achieve gender equality and economic development. I'm Amanda Ellis with the ASU Julianne Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, and I am just delighted to be your host today. In anticipation of today's event, we asked our entire online audience, what percentage of legal rights do you think that women have compared to men globally and on average? As you'll soon find out, the answer is not as obvious as it may seem. Now I'm really honored to introduce our first speaker, Indermit Gill, who is the chief economist of the World Bank Group and the senior vice president for development economics. The benefits of closing the legal gender gap, not just for women, but for the entire global economy. Indermit, welcome. We're so looking forward to hearing from you.

[Indermit Gill] First, I want to thank all of you for being here, and thank you, Amanda, for those nice words. I'll only take a minute or two of your time because we have seven or eight excellent speakers and I'm going to be the least interesting of them all. I just want to say three quick things. The first is to tell you that the issue that we are discussing today is a huge economic issue in the developing world, actually in the world as a whole. 85% of the world lives in poor and middle-income countries where they have a big problem. They don't have a lot of talent. Talent is scarce in these countries as compared to the demand for it. And most of these countries do a lousy job in allocating talent to task. The biggest failing, I think, is in allocating the talents of women to tasks. And the benefits of these things, I'm just flashing a slide over here for you, that if all of the discrimination against women workers and entrepreneurs is eliminated over the next decade, the global growth rate would essentially double from less than 2% a year to almost 4% a year. And these are not all theoretical things as you see the slide over here. If you look at the experience of the United States, what you sort of see is because of the elimination of a large part of gender and race discrimination or some of it, actually, if it were at 1960 levels, the GDP today would be about half of what it is. It's about half. And this is a serious paper. It's published, et cetera. It's not World Bank propaganda. The second is that the women business and the law exercise actually helps government break down this problem into manageable policy actions. And this year it has become even better than last year, and it was better last year than the year before. But this year, there's like a quantum jump in the quality of this report, both because it has incorporated special indicators on childcare and security, both of which are very important issues, and by incorporating methods to assess how laws are implemented and not just legislated. These are huge improvements, and they've been made in response to feedback that we've got over the years. But I should tell you that it takes a long time to actually do these things. It has taken us a few years to do it, but I think that it's a huge improvement in the report. The third point I want to make is a brief point, is that if you look at the report, and I hope all of you do read the report, it is a labor of love. It is superbly written. The concepts are explained really well. The changes that we make from year to year have been explained beautifully, and it's beautifully illustrated and formatted. I read it over the weekend and it made my weekend. I was absolutely impressed. We are very proud of the team. Very proud of the team. Finally, I want to thank you for being here and to ask for a favor of the powerful women who are around the table. Please read the report and please spread the word. Please spread the word. Now I'm going to shut up and I'm going to listen to Tea. Thank you. [audience applauds]

[Amanda Ellis] And you can all see why the Women, Business and the Law team love Indermit so much. He's an incredible male ally, a brilliant economist, and also very humble. Thank you, Indermit. And with those wonderful ideas in mind, I'm thrilled to invite Tea Trumbic, who is the manager of Women, Business in the Law, to the podium to share the findings with us. Over to you, Tea.

[Tea Trumbic] Thank you, Amanda. All right, welcome, everyone. It's great to see a room full of familiar and some new faces. This is the first hybrid launch we've had since 2018, so it's really great to see so many of you here in person. My name is Tea Trumbic, and I'm the manager of the Women, Business and the Law team. I'm very proud and grateful to present to you the 2024 findings of our report. Let me start with this image. This here is a woman in Aman, Jordan, and she's waiting for a bus. But it could be a woman anywhere. How many of you have experienced this situation, waiting for a bus at night? How many of you have experienced harassment and theft on public transport? I have. Thank you. This can make you question your job choices. Inadequate transit hits women the hardest, exposing them to dangerous situations, reducing job options, and forcing long commutes. But public transport is not gender neutral. Across the globe, more women use public transport than men. With gender differences in travel patterns, seeing women take multiple trips a day for work, childcare, family and religious reasons, many women who use public transport frequently worry about their safety. One in three women experience violence over the course of their lifetimes, a problem affecting every country in the world. Yet transport policies for most countries remain gender neutral. But in 2021, policymakers in Jordan did something about this. They launched the Aman Bus rapid transit system. It's a key part of Jordan's gender action plan, targeting mobility and safety. With lower fares, enhanced features like air conditioning and security cameras, and limited capacity to prevent overcrowding, women feel safer during their commute. And research suggests that BRT could boost public transportation usage in Aman from 14% to 40% by 2025, potentially improving women's economic prospects. But why did I start with this story? Because while women in Jordan may have benefited from a gender sensitive transportation policy, women around the world still face numerous challenges that impact their daily lives. Their ability to freely and safely choose where to go and where to work, to access equal opportunities, to enter and remain in the workforce, to manage their time, their careers, and the care of their children and their families. The data speak for itself. Globally, one in two women work, compared to 80% of men. In South Asia, the Middle east, and North Africa, only a quarter or less of women work, while nearly three quarters of the men do. And when women do work, they are more likely to be in informal, vulnerable, and lower paying jobs. And only one in three businesses are owned by women, and one in four companies started last year were women owned. Women still have more restrictions to access finance and with less favorable terms. Reducing constraints would level the playing field and open more opportunities for women entrepreneurs. And that is why, for the last 15 years, Women, Business in the Law has analyzed how laws affect women's lives around the world, with one goal, to measure how laws, or lack thereof, affect women's economic opportunities. Since 2020, we have presented an index covering 190 economies, and up until last year, the report measured countries progress towards gender equality in the law through eight indicators built around a woman's key interactions during her life. These indicators are mobility, workplace pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pension. But this year, Women, Business in the Law expands its measurement in several key ways, setting a new frontier in measuring women's rights. First, we've expanded the legal index across critical areas where change is needed the most by adding new indicators and refining existing ones. But what good are laws on the books? Let's face it, passing a law without implementing is like writing a letter without mailing it. This was a critical piece of the puzzle missing. In addition to measuring legal frameworks, this year report presents new data on the frameworks supporting implementation of those laws, for example, the existence of national policies, institutions, services, budgets, guidelines and data. And finally, to get a fuller picture of women's rights in real life, we asked our experts in selected countries about their opinions of outcomes of the law for women in practice. Do women have freedom of movement in your country? Do they have equal pay? Do they have equal rights as men in practice? On the legal index, we have added two brand new indicators, one on safety and another one on childcare, which critically impact women's livelihoods and economic opportunities at different points of their life. The safety indicator analyzes laws and policies that protect women from gender-based violence, and the childcare indicator analyzes the availability, affordability, and quality of childcare services. Several other indicators have been refined, with new questions added. This new legal framework paints a more accurate picture of the challenges and opportunities experienced by women as they go through their working lives. And what we found was that the legal gender gap, in fact, is much wider than we previously thought. While we have been reporting that women have only three quarters of the legal rights afforded to men, when we factor in the gaps identified in critical areas like safety and childcare, we find that now, in reality, women have only two thirds of the legal rights of men. This means that 3.9 billion women worldwide still face legal barriers affecting their economic participation. That's all women, by the way. When looking at the average scores for each of the ten new indicators, we find that indicators among the lowest scoring ones are precisely the new ones added. The weakness is greater in women's safety. The global average score is just 36, meaning women enjoy barely a third of the legal protections they need from domestic violence, sexual harassment, child marriage, and femicide. Although 151 economies have laws in place prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, just 39 have laws prohibiting sexual harassment in public places. Women do then face perils in using public transportation to get to work. Most economies also score poorly on laws pertaining to childcare. Women spend on average 2.4 hours a day more on unpaid work than men. Much of it involves children. Expanding access to childcare tends to increase women's participation in the labor force by about one percentage point initially, doubling within five years. Only 62 economies, fewer than a third, have established quality standards governing childcare services. And as a result, in 120 economies, women may think twice about going to work while they have children in their care. No economy has achieved legal equality under the new index. The scores vary among regions and follow a similar pattern as before, with high income OECD countries having the highest score and eleven countries from this region score 90 or above. The lowest regional averages are observed in South Asia, Middle east and North Africa, but the range of scores is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa and Middle east and North Africa. And this highlights a strong need for reforms, but also the potential for countries to learn from their neighbors in the region. And while change is never easy, if there's one thing that we know is that change is possible. 18 countries in all regions but South Asia made progress towards their legal equality, enacting reforms captured by the women business in the law 1.0 index. These economies represent a variety of income levels. In all, they enacted 47 reforms to increase gender equality under the law. The economies that improved the most were Sierra Leone, Togo, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Malaysia, where, thanks to comprehensive reforms in multiple areas, raised their scores between ten and 20 percentage points. But what about implementation? What we discovered is that almost all economies, even those with the most gender equal laws, face a substantive implementation gap. Only 40% of the supportive frameworks measured are in place to implement the laws under the Women, Business in the Law index. Remember that story I told you at the beginning? Jordan is one out of only 27 economies that has a policy in place that explicitly considers the specific mobility needs of women in public transportation. Let's take a closer look at what the other indicators find. Supportive frameworks for most indicators are lagging behind the laws, especially those supporting the implementation of laws related to the workplace and assets. For example, under the workplace indicator, while 162 economies have laws that prohibit discrimination and employment, only 76 have a specialized body that receives complaints of such discrimination. And in only 44 countries, governments have published guidelines on nondiscrimination and recruitment. But while the indicators appear to be relatively advanced in terms of supportive frameworks, they should not be taken as purely good news. For example, the average entrepreneurship supportive framework is just 39.6. This clearly indicates shortcomings in the availability of frameworks to support female entrepreneurs. Globally, 123 economies lack comprehensive sex disaggregated data on business activities and entrepreneurship, and this year we asked experts not only about the law, but also about their opinions of how the law is measured by women business in the law or their absence function in practice. Across a sample of 164 economies, the expert opinion scores on average 65.7 out of 100. This perception-based assessment sheds lights in the areas which women rights are most lacking in practice and where women's access to economic opportunity is still limited. And here I would like to take a moment to thank the more than 2000 experts around the world that not only helped us understand the legal and supportive frameworks in their countries, but that also shared their perceptions on the real-life challenges faced by women in their own country. Without your knowledge, your interest and your commitment to gender equality, this work would not have been possible. When asked about their perception on women's rights in real life, the majority of survey experts believe that compared with men, at least half of the women in their economies enjoy the same freedoms of movement, access to paid leave for birth of a child, equal access to credit, equal rights to immovable property, and equal pension benefits after retirement. However, perceptions on gender-based violence and childcare provisions were strikingly different. More than half of the experts indicated that almost no women, or only some women, are free from gender-based violence. About half of the experts indicated that almost no women, or only some women, have access to affordable, quality childcare services. This highlights the fact that something has to be done about these two critical issues that Women, Business and the Law is measuring and the report offers some solutions. In the era of persistently slow growth, increasing the participation of women in the global workforce could significantly brighten the outlook. Some regions of the world, such as the Middle east and North Africa and South Asia, could boost their potential GDP growth by as much as 1.2 percentage points a year by raising female labor force participation rates. Other research suggests that in OECD countries alone, governments could add 7 trillion dollars to the global economy by closing the gender gap in the workplace and in management. The results coming out of the data in the 2024 report call for a comprehensive set of actions to close gender gaps. These include reforming the law and introducing mechanisms to support their meaningful implementation. Policymakers, the private sector and civil society can use Women, Business and the Law data to identify and remove barriers to women's economic empowerment in their countries, boosting labor force participation and entrepreneurship. You can help raise awareness by sharing the report and using the data in your work. Let's find ways to create a world where women's rights are not only written, but also realized. What you have seen here today is the result of an enormous effort by an incredible team of professionals which I have the pleasure of calling my team. I couldn't finish my presentation without giving them a huge shout out. Thank you for your hard work, your passion, and your commitment. Our vision is a world where women are empowered to fully contribute to all aspects of society. We are in the business of producing data and analysis to empower policymakers, international organizations, entrepreneurs and citizens with information that can make this vision a reality. Thank you also to our donors and the World Bank for providing us the space and the resources to do this work. Thank you.

[Amanda Ellis] Thank you, Tea, for an absolutely fascinating presentation, and to you and your amazing team for trailblazing this new frontier in measuring women's rights. 7 trillion dollars is certainly worth fighting for. I'm now absolutely delighted to introduce a woman who is driving change in her community and beyond, shifting gears on social norms by empowering women with the autonomy and safety of driving themselves. Menna Faroukis the CEO and co-founder of Dosy, which is a tech-based scooter and bicycle riding platform promoting women's mobility in Egypt. She is also the 2023 awardee of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, We Empower Challenge. And this was launched back in 2018 by the president of the World Bank, the UN secretary general, and the Council of Women World Leaders. A very prestigious award. And Menna, we are just so thrilled to have you with us.

[Menna Faroukis] Thank you so much. Amanda, it's a pleasure to be here. It's a pleasure to hear Tea, it's a pleasure to hear Indermit, it was fascinating to hear them and I’m excited to hear the other speakers as well.

[Amanda Ellis] And one of the things that we wanted to share in partnership with the World Bank, We Empower actually includes Women, Business and the Law in the entry form for We Empower. And so Menna actually had to go through and become very aware of what the legal constraints on women's freedom of movement were in Egypt, and Egypt's personal status law does not allow a woman to travel outside her home in the same way as a man. But we discovered why Menna had set up her business. There are no restrictions against women riding scooters or bikes. Menna, tell us all about why you set up Dosy.

[Menna Faroukis] Sure. Let me first explain what Dosy is. Dosy is an online platform through which women and girls can book their scooter and bicycle classes online, and then they get matched with a female trainer in their areas and add their desired schedules. We started back in 2019, and now we have trained over 4,000 women on riding scooters and bicycles, and we have about 100 instructors. At Dosy, we seek to empower women both on the road and economically. On the road by teaching them how to ride scooters and bicycles, and economically by giving any woman who rides a scooter or bicycle an opportunity to become an instructor and have an additional source of income. By offering them this alternative means of transportation, we enable them to have access to education, to economic opportunities, to conduct a business, to seek health care, and most importantly, to have control over their lives. Having the ability to move freely without needing another person, a man, a father, brother, a husband, to take you wherever you want to go. Having this ability empowers women to have control over their lives and seek opportunities. And have opportunities.

[Amanda Ellis] It's just fantastic. And it really also speaks to the point that Tea made about the fear of sexual harassment that can impact women's mobility. And one of the things that the report found this year, of course, w as that adopting laws, while very important, is not enough. Laws need to be implemented for women to enjoy equal rights in practice. And this is what you're seeing in Egypt, too, isn't it, Menna? Although there are laws prohibiting sexual harassment, special procedures are lacking for implementation. Tell us a little bit about how Dosy is helping to address those policy gaps. Do you see this connection that Tea referenced between women's safety and women's freedom of movement?

[Menna Faroukis] Sure. Thank you for the question. Dosy addresses these policy gaps by offering women an alternative to public transportation, where women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment. Scooters and bicycles offer women more personal space and control over their daily commute, potentially reducing their fear of sexual harassment and encouraging them to move freely and feel more safe while traveling. The connection between mobility and safety empowers women to exercise their right to movement without compromising their well-being. And right now we are working on a marketing campaign that communicates to people the fear that women have while traveling on the streets, on public transportation, and how Dosy comes as a solution or as another alternative in order to make women feel more safe while traveling.

[Amanda Ellis] Thank you so much for the important work you do. To close, what policies do you think government could put in place to implement laws protecting women from sexual harassment?

[Menna Faroukis] Sure. Thank you. To address sexual harassment and to protect women, as the report mentioned, I believe that government should implement comprehensive mechanisms such as establishing specialized units at law enforcement agencies, as well as training officials and police officers on how to handle sexual harassment cases. Additionally, having access to legal aid is very essential, and budgetary allocation for sexual harassment, risk mitigation, prevention and response is also very essential, including funding for support services, shelters, counseling and maybe education initiatives. Also, I believe that having these mechanisms would… The special procedures for handling sexual harassment cases should prioritize victim safety and should ensure expedited investigations in order to ensure that the law is implemented.

[Amanda Ellis] Terrific. And with that, I think Tea and team may be putting you on the writing team next year. Some very comprehensive answers. Thank you so much.

[Menna Faroukis] Thank you so much.

[Amanda Ellis] Thank you. And we now have a very distinguished panel led by Norman Loayza, who is the director of the World Bank's Global Indicators Group. And Norman is actually the champion who has been leading the team on these two new dimensions. Norman, welcome. On the panel, we will also have the Honorable Marci Ien, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth from Canada, the Honorable Isata Mahoi, Minister of Gender and Children's affairs of Sierra Leone, Ms. Jamille Bigio, the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and for women's empowerment at USAID, and from the World Bank Group, the global director for Gender, Ms.  Hana Brixi. Over to you, Norman.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you for the introduction, Amanda. Hello, everyone in the room and online. I am Norman Loayza, Director of the World Bank's Global Indicators Group, which of course houses Women, Business and the Law. And it's my great pleasure to moderate this panel. At the beginning of the event, we heard Indermit, our chief economist, and Tea, the manager of the team, discuss and present solid evidence on the laws and regulations that can affect women's economic empowerment. And we just heard the fascinating story of Menna on literally riding and driving change for women. In this panel, we will discuss tangible and practical policies and programs to advance women's economic empowerment. Let's start the conversation. Minister Mahoi, the Women, Business and the Law 2024 report highlights Sierra Leone as the economy that improved its legal index the most, enacting reforms in several areas. I will just give you a few examples. Sierra Leone has passed laws to prohibit gender-based discrimination in the workplace and in accessing credit. The country has also removed restrictions on the jobs that women can do and has increased the length of both maternity and paternity leave. We are very curious, how did you do it, and did you encounter any hurdles when seeking to pass these laws and how did you overcome them?

[Isata Mahoi] Okay. I would just like to use this opportunity to say thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to send out my voice and also to showcase what Sierra Leone is doing. As is the case we are in, I think, because we've been through a lot as people of that country and also as women. We have had wars, we've had Ebola, there's COVID-19 and many others. We have had flooding, landslides and everything. I think people think we've been through a lot. And people always say, “oh, it is hell on heart that mostly Sierra Leone women are experiencing.” But to tell you, in passing the law, the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Act of 2022, it took us 13 months when the law was placed at parliament, because ours is a patriarchal country. And the myths, the stereotype, thinking around how people perceive the issues of women is so great that you may wonder how we did it so fast, even though, yes, it took 13 months, but it was still fast for us because we had the support of civil society organization, and there was, above all, the political will. The enabling environment was there because government see that it is important for women to also have a voice, women to be at the forefront of leadership, for women to make decisions, because we have long missed that opportunity where women are considered only to be in the kitchen to cook for men. And when there's a meeting in the villages or the communities, the women will just sit there, keep quiet, while the men talk even when you have a valuable input to make. We were not allowed to talk. And initially, women in some parts of Sierra Leone, it was not easy to send the girl child to school. It becomes problematic. And what happens is that there are so many risks associated to when sending the girl to school. Menna was talking about means of transportation for girls to go to school. For us, girls travel as long as 5 miles to access school, and on their way they are given rides by motorbike riders who in turn will impregnate them and then eventually leave school. All of these challenges are there. But for the law, in the aspect of the law, it took us strong minds and strong voices to be able to come forward to say, “no, enough is enough.” We need to have a change. We need to have women at the forefront. And when women are at the forefront of leadership, then things begin to change. What we're looking at, so far that I know has come out clearly on this report is the gap in implementation, because as a country, also under resourced and economically challenged, you all know, if you have been following the news, it has been a great opportunity that they have me now as minister of gender. I was once advocating for this. When the law was passed, I was a civil society advocate. I was very much stronger supporting government on that side. And now, as I have taken the opportunity, this job opportunity, it's time for me to ensure that the implementation works well. What we have done so far is, as a ministry, we have trained what we call the gender focal points for every ministry, department and agency. Why have we trained them? We have trained them because we want them to collect data, because data is key. We want them to inform my ministry that for every department or agency within Sierra Leone, we are moving forward when it comes to gender equality. This is what we have been doing. Even in the speeches of the ministers in those departments, we want to see you mention gender equality or women's empowerment because it is key. We need people, we need the ministers to make those commitments. We need them to show that they actually mean it from the bottom of their heart, that when we talk about gender equality and women's empowerment. But it has been a strong struggle that we went through and I'm willing to share most of those experiences with you. And to say what we're going to from here, we want to see a country where we'll have 60%-40%, because now we want to take back what is ours. Because if everything was okay, we'll not be here talking about gender equality and women's empowerment. Why would we beg for our rights? Why would we beg for things to happen that we all have equal opportunities for? We should not be begging for this and we should not be there to be looking at the progress being made by other countries. For me, I think it is a very great opportunity. Now we've got a very big leap in governance issues. First at parliament, the past parliament, we had 18 women and now we've got 42 as a result of the laws. And for the ministerial positions, there were 5. Now we are 10 in cabinets and 11 as deputy ministers who are females. We've got a very huge leap, which is 34.5% of the percentage of women in cabinet. We want to see, not only having the numbers there, what we want to see is how women can help create a change within their ministries. What I have done so far as a minister is that I have set up what we call the network of women ministers and parliamentarians. And also at the local council level, we've got a network on association of female councilors. We want to see how best would enhance the capacity or strengthen the capacity of each and every minister, parliamentarian or councilor so that we are able to deliver. Because the myth is that women cannot do it better. It is only men that have the capability to perform. We want to show the world that despite those myths or myths that they have, we can do it. We want to prove to the world that we can bring change, and that change is what we are all here for, and that change is what I'm there to create. Thank you.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you. That was very inspiring, Minister Mahoi. And what I get from what you are saying very clearly is the importance of advocacy, the importance of political commitment, and the importance of women's own participation. And I hope that data can actually support all those efforts. Thank you very much. Minister Ien, a major message of the report is that gender equality laws should not stay on the books, but should be actually implemented to be useful. Canada is one of the top eight economies around the world in providing a supportive framework for the implementation, for the application of these gender equality laws. In your opinion, what are the most urgent, the most critical policy instruments, policies, programs that countries should adopt to fulfill and accelerate gender equality?

[Marci Ien] Norman, thank you so much for the question and this esteemed panel. It is so great to be with you and great to be with all of you and invited here to share. First and foremost, Isata, we had a conversation a little earlier, and I said back in 2008, when I was a journalist, I went to Freetown, and I went there to train women journalists who literally were targeted for what they were writing. They were writing about or trying to write about women's rights. I remember several saying to me, our editors aren't giving us stories because they say that we have to be home at 5:00 to cook for our husbands, so why would we give you a lead story in this paper? That's what was happening. Should we even give you a lead story? Because you have to leave. You won't be able to follow it through. To see the work that has been done through these years and under your leadership is astonishing. And as you pointed out, you're a minister now, but you worked on gender equality. You were there. You were a journalist yourself. I just had to say this. So appreciate you. Now to the question, Norman. There was breaking news in Canada yesterday, and that being Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that our budget would be brought down on April 16th. And I say that because gender budgeting is something that we passed legislation in 2018 and it is a baseline for, I think, everything that we're talking about here today. We will hear from Minister Anita Anand, who is the president of the treasury board via video, I believe, a little bit later, I sit on treasury board with Anita and I say all these things and bring it back to gender budgeting, because what that means is that it is embedded within every budget, the diversity of the country, the women in the country, and it is a cross government initiative. Embedded in the budget, how does this serve the diversity of our country? And to the chief statistician, I am always asking for numbers, and the latest numbers I got were that in 20 year’s time, Canada will be 40% racialized. How does that factor into budgeting, serving and creating policy and action, yes, Tea, that informs all of that? The gender budgeting part of what we do is really, really important. Then it's the numbers and it's tracking them and following up, and that's where the gender results framework comes into play. What are we doing? How are we doing it? Are we serving well in putting forward these policies? What do we need to change? For example, you look at the employment rate in our country, and when you look at that, you see that non-racialized women, I believe the number is about 84%, are employed. When you change that lens and you look at racialized women, it's 76%. When you change that lens again and look at indigenous women, it's 71%. And so we have things like the Black Entrepreneurship Program, taking those numbers into account. This is a program that uplifts black people, women, so many women have small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, and says, how can we help you? How can we help support you to start your business? What happens when you walk into a bank? Are you given a loan? Are you listened to? How can we help there? These are the things that come out of that framework so that we can see the numbers and see how we can help better.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you. Thank you very much. That's very inspiring and very practical in the sense that put your money where your words are. That's maybe a way to summarize those wise words. But I also want to highlight how you use data and you use it in a way to measure the impact of the programs, because you can have money, indeed, you can put money into programs, but then you need to see these programs are working, if they are efficient or not, and then have the courage to eliminate those that don't work and to create more incentives for those that do work well. Thank you very much. Let me turn now to Jamille. Jamille, USAID has been long championing for global efforts to advance gender equality. This is, as we know, not always easy. How are you engaging in this kind of dialog with governments? And maybe you can share with us any success stories on this front.

[Jamille Bigio] Thank you. Happy to. And as you note, USAID and the US government has a commitment to advancing gender quality around the world. We have also made a commitment to put our money where our mouth is there. We've committed this last funding year, we doubled our investment in gender equality and women's empowerment across USAID and the state Department. Informed by…. Thank you. Informed by the evidence that we collectively know. We know that investing in gender equality will advance economic growth, will advance safety and security, will advance stronger sustainability solutions. Name your development sector. Name your sector. We know gender equality will lead to better results, and we are committed that we put the resources behind that. Now, how is the funding being spent in ways that will have meaningful impact? How are we tracking that progress? One key area that we are focused on and that USAID has highlighted in our new gender policy that we launched just about a year ago, is the priority of ensuring that we are also addressing the root causes of gender inequality. So, yes, we need to be advancing participation. Yes, we need to be strengthening protection. And we also need to be looking at what are the root causes of why, in the first place, there wasn't full participation of all women and girls, men and boys, and gender diverse individuals in society? And let's together tackle that so that we are not looking for band aid solutions each time. Now, as we look at what are the root causes of gender inequality, we see discriminatory gender norms, behaviors, laws as part of that framework of those underlying root causes. As we together look at tackling those, one key step is revising those laws so that under the law, as a starting point, all individuals have equal rights and opportunities, so that at least under the law, they are able to fully participate in society. Then we look at implementation. Do we have the support of the implementation processes in place to help us ensure that those laws are then executed? For USAID, we have been focusing, looking at those different levels. One, how are we partnering with governments all around the world who have taken the leadership, governments like Sierra Leone, of saying, we are going to put forward a law, and we, as the community of partners, stand ready for governments like that, who have that commitment to provide lessons learned from other laws, what components have proven effective to achieve the goals that the government may have? What do they want to be thinking about as they put that legal framework together? Second, the critical role that civil society has, as we again heard in the Sierra Leone example, both to advocate for those laws and then to hold their governments accountable for implementing those laws. That's something USAID is also committed to supporting around the world. And then, third, is that support to governments to then implement those laws. As we again heard the example of having gender focal points who are trained, there's a role for partners to help support governments in ensuring that they've got, as they're thinking about those systems and training in those ways. To give a few specifics, on the USAID side, we launched in 2021 the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund, the GEEA Fund, which is focused on women's economic security. One of the areas we are focused on is addressing the systemic barriers to women's full participation in the economy. In our first year of funding, we supported 109 specific pieces of land tenure and property rights legislation, and together that enabled 64,000 women to have legally recognized and documented tenure rights to land or marine areas. It's critical that, one, we see that together as necessary to achieve the economic growth gains that we started with at the top of today's event. We must ensure together that women have, for example, land and tenure rights… sorry, documented tenure rights to land or marine areas. Another example that… I spoke of, USAID's role with civil society in helping to advocate for the implementation. In Nigeria, for example, the Nigerian government in 2021 passed an inspiring national level law on gender-based violence. But within that structure, it then needs to be adopted state by state. USAID has been partnering, for example, with the private sector to encourage private sector leadership on gender equality, looking at how they are advancing within their own businesses gender equality, but also being a voice in their society standing for gender equality. One of our private sector partners, for example, led an education campaign in Imo state of Nigeria. They mobilized stakeholders across the region to highlight what the protections were under the new law and advocated for the policy adoption through that. And so that helped contribute to Imo state being one of the Nigerian states that then have taken this law, put it into practice and are hearing from the private sector why it's important. We have this diverse community of civil society. We also see in Dominican Republic, one of our private sector partners taking the child care law, the provision of paternity leave, and actually they're saying it wasn't enough and saying that actually they were going to do more than the two days legally required and say there they were going to enable 15 days for employees. And that's a way of not only implementing the law, but demonstrating that we can go farther, which I think is an important piece as we talk about implementation. Thank you.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you very much, Jamille. It's really impressive, both in terms of the programs that you are conducting and also the money that you are increasing. And I also want to highlight this view that it's about addressing the root causes and not just the symptoms. That's the way that you really resolve problems. And this actually calls for a strategy. And this is where I want to turn to Hana, because when Hana is the director for Gender for the World Bank, and the World Bank Gender strategy for 2024 to 2030 will be released very soon. And as we know, it will recognize the importance of institutional and policy reforms to address gender inequalities. Maybe you can tell us a preview of what the gender strategy will be about and how it will address these issues. And maybe you can tell us something about how it will address the implementation gap that the report has revealed. Hana.

[Hana Brixi] Thank you so much, Norman, and congratulations again, Tea and the entire WBL team. And also a huge thanks for the collaboration, because in fact, the upcoming strategy is very well aligned with the Women, Business and Law and we've worked very closely, so the influence has been going both directions. And when you look at the new strategy and compare it to the excellent previous strategy, you see that the additions, the one addition, is actually stronger emphasis for the World Bank Group to engage to end gender-based violence. Also stronger emphasis for the World Bank to help countries invest in enabling services such as childcare, such as safe transport, that enable the equal participation in the economy and economic activities. Now, the strategy builds on evidence on how complex and challenging it is to make progress toward gender equality, and also, of course, on evidence on what works. And from the evidence we see that, of course, legal reforms and policy reforms are necessary. We see that they are not sufficient. We see that implementation approaches need to integrate gender lens. But we also see that we need to understand better what is influencing practices and behaviors beyond the laws and policies, what would facilitate the translation of laws and policies into reality? And there we see that the implementation gap, as you mentioned, actually often relates to norms, to mindsets. In the strategy, we put a strong emphasis on three things as drivers of change. One is innovation. Evidence-based approaches to policy reforms, programs and their implementation. Second, financing for all these to actually be delivered, but three, collective action and engage a wide range of stakeholders and involve men and boys as well as women and girls on the way toward more gender equal norms and behaviors. Let me give you one example. Violence against women, which is great addition in WBL, and we see that when we think about enforcement, and I think it was very nicely also highlighted by Menna Farouk, how strong emphasis there needs to be to have enforcement that puts the well-being of women survivors, survivors of violence at the heart, so that they are not put at even greater risk through the practices. Having trained police, especially women employed in police, trained health professionals, trained social workers, shelters, economic opportunities for women survivors. But then what we see is that to really reduce violence, we need to find ways to influence the thinking and the attitudes of men and boys with respect to violence. We put a lot of emphasis on engaging a wide range of actors. We have some good experiences, for example, in partnerships with the UNFPA and others involving local religious leaders who can talk to boys, talk to men about how good girls education is and how bad violence against women is, and that it's actually a good role model and good ideal for men to engage at home, in childcare and household work. And it's great that actually, when we do impact evaluations, we see a change. We see a change not only in terms of what men and boys say, but also what they actually do. There are some good examples to build on. And I feel to reduce the implementation gap, putting more emphasis on interventions that would influence the behaviors and norms is where we can proceed and where the strategy also is supporting the way forward.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you. Thank you very much, Hana. I take this point that boys and men must be involved and that the social norms should accompany the legal reforms in order for change to happen. And I appreciate enormously the way that you are approaching the issue in a strategic way. Best of luck in the launch of this strategy. And we are here to support you and to support the whole Bank and all our partners, of course, in providing the best data possible. We are coming close to ending this great discussion. And I will ask from each of you just one concrete action. One concrete action, maybe in a couple of sentences, about what countries can do to bring down these barriers to achieve gender equality. Just in a couple of sentences, Minister Mahoi first. Not easy. Not easy.

[Isata Mahoi] Okay. First, I just want to reiterate the fact that she mentioned about engaging men and boys. For us in 2022, we launched the male engagement strategy, where we encourage men, even at community level, to be part of the awareness raising and advocacy events. This is also part of what helped us in terms of getting the gender equality and women's empowerment bigger. In fact, in the coming months, we'll be launching what we call the Real Man Campaign. The Real Man Campaign is to get men to wholeheartedly focus their campaigns on ending gender-based violence. We want to involve them at all levels. We want to ensure that the issue of gender-based violence or inequality rests in their own hands. And once we work on it together, we'll be able to create that change. And now for maybe one thing that we'll use in terms of ensuring we reduce the issue of gender-based violence and bridge the gap is to ensure that we, as a society, we help change the mindset. The mindset is key, because once your mindset is changed and you're looking for something that will promote equality, then you're able to change that perception. For me, changing the mindset is key, and it will help reduce the cultural barriers, the deep-rooted cultural barriers, because this is where men are stuck, especially in society like ours.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you very much, Minister Mahoi. Marci Ien.

[Marci Ien] Thank you so much. Norman. Men and boys, Hana. Men and boys. I like so much what you said about engaging civil society, religious leaders. We need active allyship, and it's so important in our national action plan to end gender-based violence that every province and territory in our country has supported. And that just happened not too long ago. Money is flowing to grassroots organizations to help women that are fleeing violence. But in conjunction with the ministry of justice, we found that 7.4 billion dollars was going out the door post spousal abuse. The government was spending 7.4 billion dollars to support those that had been impacted by intimate partner violence and gender-based violence. Our national action plan to end gender-based violence, and that word end is in there for a reason, was half billion dollars. But the people of Canada quickly understood that, not just from a moral sense, but from a fiscal sense, how important that was. Secondly, and just quickly, Norman, the fact that women are not homogeneous, and that's really important. Intersectional data. Looking at women and all women and their stories and their journeys, because how can we serve, how can we create policy, how can we move things forward if we work in a way that looks as women as one group when they are not?

[Norman Loayza] Thank you. Thank you very much, Jamille.

[Jamille Bigio] Thank you. I agree and would add that as we look at what it means for all people to have the opportunity to realize their full potential, that we need to transform the norms, the structures, the systems that perpetuate gender inequality. And that is a collective call to action for us all to change those norms, structures, those systems. We need all of us at the table. Coming back to what is the call to action, to men and boys, to religious leaders, to other allies? It is to look at what is holding everyone back from being able to fully participate in society. Is that lack of access to jobs? Is that discriminatory laws? Is that lack of access to health care, to education, to other opportunities? Let us change those. Where are there gaps between men and women in their access to and control over resources? Let us shift those so that we have equal access together to those resources. And let us create those pathways to leadership, because we know we need representatives, we need leaders at the table who can bring all of their different identities to help us shape these solutions together.

[Hana Brixi] One specific action I would see is actually using the new Women, Business and Law report to inform and mobilize action. There is a lot that can inspire and inform action. And more broadly, I think we can do more to use evidence to mobilize action. There is a lot that evidence shows what works. And actually, I would like to recognize the excellent partnership with Canada and also USAID in generating this evidence in WBL and beyond. And I think partnering with trusted leaders so that it is them who call for action. It is the religious leaders, it is the president and the ministers, as Minister Mahoi illustrated, who call for action toward gender equality. I think that's how we get impact. That's what I would put as an action for us to jointly work toward.

[Norman Loayza] Thank you very much. What I have heard, and my summary may be a bit off, but I have heard that we need to use data better to reach even people who are not under our normal radar. And we can use WBL data for that purpose. We can help improve access to resources, we can create alliances and with the final goal of changing mindset. Thank you. These are really important goals. And as an old Chinese proverb says, talk doesn't cook rice. We may have the right laws, and that's a first good step. But then we need policy action to implement what's needed. Thanks again to our great panelists and to our wonderful audience. Back to you, Amanda. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

[Amanda Ellis] What a fantastic panel. Thank you so much to Norman and our distinguished panelists for sharing their perspectives and what great takeaways. Legislators play a critical role in supporting legal gender equality, in creating an enabling environment. We will now hear from Martin Chungong, the secretary general of the Interparliamentary Union, which is the world's oldest multilateral body with 180 member countries and another fabulous male ally.

[Martin Chungong] Particularly in the law, it is essential to achieving sustainable development. The Interparliamentary union empowers parliaments around the world to deliver sustainable development to all. Adopting laws that lift the barriers to women's economic empowerment is a key step in this journey. Countries must unlock the full potential of their populations to foster socioeconomic welfare. The Women, Business and the Law 2024 report provides pathways to close legal gender gaps nd boost female labor force participation, and parliaments are instrumental to achieving that. The law shows that change is possible. Many countries recently enacted laws supporting women's economic empowerment. At the interparliamentary union, we have seen in particular how parliaments that have empowered women in their ranks and in leadership positions are delivering ever more gender equal laws. These are important steps forward. The next important step is to implement these laws so that women may enjoy equal rights, not only on the books, but also in practice. For the first time, this year's report identifies policy gaps in implementing the law. It provides examples of policy instruments and mechanisms to enforce laws in practice, such as budgets, data and implementing bodies. We should use these tools to close those policy gaps. I encourage parliamentarians around the world to make full use of the report's examples and findings. Together, let's draw on the report to advance gender equality and to drive sustainable development. Thank you.

[Amanda Ellis] Wonderful. And I'm just on my way to the Interparliamentary Union Global Assembly, where I will indeed be encouraging parliaments to do just as Martin says. Now, as we conclude, let's turn back to all of you. In our online quiz, we asked what percentage of legal rights do you think women have compared to men globally? And on average, we had 560 votes. The correct answer is 64%, down from three quarters. 202 votes got that correct, which was around a third of respondents. Congratulations to those of you who got the correct answer. Now, of course, the call out is use the QR code and please go online. There is a map that we at ASU have been delighted to help produce. You can click on your country and you see an immediate summary of all of the indicators. It's a really helpful tool for you to become an advocate for positive progress in your country. To echo Tea, read the report, use the data, lead by example and be the voice of change. In the words of Tea 13-year-old son Leo, we all need to fight world sexism for the good of everyone everywhere. Thank you all so much. [audience applauds]

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