Investing in People to Build Human Capital

Scientific and technological advances are transforming lives: they are even helping investing-in-people2poorer countries close the gap with rich countries in life expectancy. But, poorer countries still face tremendous challenges, as almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished, and 60 percent of primary school students are failing to achieve even a rudimentary education. In fact, more than 260 million children and youth in poorer countries are receiving no education at all.

There is a moral case to be made, of course, for investing in the health and education of all people.  But there is an economic one as well: to be ready to compete and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. “Human capital” – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.

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Call for Proposals for Innovation in Addressing Gender-Based Violence

The World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) announced a new open call for awards recognizing promising innovations aimed at preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Applications for the Development Marketplace for Innovation in Addressing Gender-Based Violence must be received online by September 5, 2018.

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Are men the new weaker sex? The rise of the reverse gender gap in education

capture1_34It is probably fair to say that the World Bank’s latest report on intergenerational mobility – Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations around the World – is the first-ever attempt to paint a truly global picture of how achievement – or the lack thereof – is transmitted across generations. Though there are results for income mobility for a subset of countries, most of the analysis focuses on educational attainment across 148 economies, representing over 95% of the world’s population.

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Want to keep girls in school? Teach them to negotiate.

negotiation_2Across low-income countries, fewer than one in every three girls are enrolled in secondary school. Many interventions to improve girls’ access to school provide cash, such as cash transfers in Malawi or Nepal. But what if girls had better skills to advocate for their own interests? In a recent experiment in Zambia, Nava Ashraf, Natalie Bau, Corinne Low, and Kathleen McGinn tested what happens when adolescent girls receive negotiation training. The results are documented in their paper, “Negotiating a Better Future: How Interpersonal Skills Facilitate Inter-Generational Investment.” Over the course of six two-hour after-school sessions, eighth-grade girls engaged in discussion, role-playing, storytelling, and game play to learn four principles of negotiation from college educated Zambian women.

  • Principle 1: Me. The girls learned to understand their own interests, identify their back-up plan, when to walk away during a negotiation (when options don’t meet the girls’ needs), and how to regulate emotion by taking a short break when anger gets in the way of good bargaining.
  • Principle 2: You. The girls learned to ask open-ended questions to understand the interests of the other person and to approach the other person respectfully.
  • Principle 3: Together. The girls were taught to identify common ground with the other person, and to identify if a “no” from the other person came from some external obstacle that the girl and the person could resolve together.
  • Principle 4: Build. The girls learned to find “win-win” agreements.

Here’s an example of how this played out for one of the girls, as she negotiated with her parents for school fees:

“I asked my parents if they could talk with me. I put on my chitenge [traditional material skirt], and knelt before them. I chose to approach with respect and so they asked me to stand and sit in the chair near them and tell them what I wanted to say. I said that I really wanted to be able to go back to school but wasn’t able to because the school fees weren’t paid. They said I knew that the family had no more money so it wasn’t possible. I said I know that mom sells chickens out of the house. I see that some people sell them in the marketplace nearby. If I can sell some chickens in the market over the school holiday, could I use the money for my school fees? They agreed and that is how I got to go back to school.”

You can see how she put the principles together: Me – she identified her interest: go back to school. You – she approached her parents with respect and listened to their concern. Together – she saw that the “no” wasn’t from a lack of desire from her parents but from an external obstacle. Build – she proposed a win-win situation. Not every negotiation is about school fees. One girl recounted using the skills to push back against her boyfriend’s demands for sex. Another wrote about negotiation with her sister to exchange child care for hair styling.

Two months after the negotiation training, the girls who participated (“negotiators”) scored much better on an open-ended test of how to find time to study for an exam when a younger brother needed watching. Over the course of the next couple of years, dropout rates were ten percentage points lower for negotiators, and attendance – for girls enrolled in school – was slightly higher. Although some other outcomes – performance in the top quarter on math and English tests and reported pregnancy rates – remained unchanged, an index of all the effects together improves, even when the enrollment effects are excluded. (When interpreting the lack of a pregnancy effect, keep in mind that reported pregnancies in the compaision group are already very low, just 4 percent.) The negotiation skills kept girls in school. Parents reported that negotiators were more likely to ask for more food and did fewer weekday chores; but they also reported that negotiators were more respectful, less likely to give difficulty in doing the chores they had, and more likely to do chores on Fridays – when schoolwork is less pressing.

For the girls with the highest language ability at baseline, the effects on enrollment and attendance are even stronger, and performance on an English test also rose.

But wait, is it really the negotiation skills? Maybe exposure to these college-educated Zambian mentors in a safe space is what’s actually driving these findings. Or maybe interacting with that mentor simply provided better information about the returns to education, which we know can keep youth in school. To test this, the researchers tried two other interventions: one with the same mentors and the same safe space but no negotiation training, and a second that provided information on the returns to education and on HIV prevention. The information intervention had no impact on any outcomes, and the safe space intervention had a similar – slightly smaller – impact on enrollment to the negotiation program, and lower estimated impacts on every other impact (albeit not statistically significantly different). The safe space intervention also had almost no impact on parent reports about the child’s behavior and chores at home.

But wait (again!), does this harm the other children in the household? The researchers look for impacts on other children in the school and in the household and find little evidence of negative spillovers. It didn’t affect the distribution of chores and if anything, it increased the amount of time parents expected sisters of the negotiators to do their own schoolwork. Parents of negotiators do report a higher likelihood to pay girls’ school fees over those of boys, but they don’t reduce the expected years of education for boys in the household. As the authors put it, “While it may seem surprising that increased educational investment in the treated girl did not negatively affect her siblings, this could be because the increased investment came out of parents’ consumption or because girls used negotiation to arrive at solutions that increased family welfare.”

There’s much more in the paper, including lab-in-the-field games to show how the program affected interactions between parents and children, and machine learning techniques to shape the heterogeneity analysis. But this intervention shows that adolescents can learn valuable socio-emotional skills, working through the education system.

Most directly, it demonstrates that it’s possible to help girls to stay in school by making them more effective advocates for themselves.

For more about the program, you can read this story on NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.

Gains in Financial Inclusion, Gains for a Sustainable World

financial-inclusion-genderMary Banda in Zambia runs a small restaurant in one of Lusaka’s oldest markets. Before she learned that financial services could make the way she did business easier, her profits were low. But today, her profits have increased, both because she banks her money and because she uses mobile money transfer services.

Using financial services has simplified managing her business and increased profits. And business proceeds now pay her children’s school fees.

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eC2:Research: Business Case for Gender Lens-Investing in Private Equity in Emerging Markets

Deadline: 30-May-2018 at 11:59:59 PM (Eastern Time – Washington D.C.) gender_accelerating_womens_economic_empowerment_780x439

IFC seeks to procure a firm to research the business case for gender-lens investing for private equity (PE)and venture capital (VC)funds in emerging markets. Gender-lens investing, the use of gender as a category of analysis in investment decision making, is relatively small, but the market for integrating gender into the investment selection process is growing in both size and sophistication. Women are heavily under-represented when it comes to PE fund managers, angel and VC investors, and as fund investees. Yet, we also know that financial performance of companies is correlated to gender diversity. Limited representation of women may be hurting fund performance portfolios. PE/VC funds play a critical role in enterprise growth, job creation, innovation, and financial security and can play a catalytic role in closing economic participation gaps between men and women. The research will support IFC efforts to close gender gaps in access to jobs and assets.

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Millennials Welcome! Young women are revolutionizing the startup scene despite conflicts in MENA

untitledThe start-up scene in the Middle East and North Africa region is booming. The growing number of incubators and accelerators that can be found from Beirut, Ramallah, Gaza to Cairo and Casablanca have gained recognition beyond the region. Our team at the MENA Youth Platform has been studying the emerging trends, and one thing is clear: the next revolution will look very different, and young women are at the forefront of innovation such as artificial intelligence. Impressively, a new startup-ecosystem index shows how Tunis and Amman lead the MENA crowd based on an assessment of available human capital, access to finance, the vibrancy of the startup scene, available ICT infrastructure, an enabling macro-context, and global market access.

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Closing the gap between policy and practice on women’s land rights

Let’s Talk Development. By: Chris Jochnick, World Bank, March 19, 2018

Momentum is building behind a land rights revolution. Last year, just prior to the World Bank’s Annual Land and Poverty Conference, I wrote about the many factors pushing land to the top of the global agenda.  To maintain this momentum we must pay greater attention to gender and women’s land rights.

Land is more than an important asset in the fight against global poverty and gender inequality. For most people living in poverty, it is an essential, indispensable means to leading a healthy, safe, and productive life. Despite this, hundreds of millions of people who depend on land around the world – especially women – lack access or secure tenure rights to it.

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eC2: Scoping for gender & private sector engagement opportunities in three Sub-Saharan Africa countries- DRC, Cote d Ivoire, Mozambique

1_VKgpfpebYFgjXAUoKewFVgDeadline:  08-Feb-2018 at 11:59:59 PM (Eastern Time – Washington D.C.)

Objective: IFC would like to conduct a private sector gender analysis in three countries – Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote DIvoire and Mozambique. This work will interrogate the role of the private sector in enabling equal opportunities for women to participate in economic development and the gaps thereof. In doing so, it shall consider various gender dimensions in relation to the private sector. These diagnostics will feed into the design of a private sector focused multi-year, multi-sectoral gender program to be led by IFC.

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eC2: GAFSP Uganda Poverty Assessment

Deadline: 05-Aug-2017 at 11:59:59 PM (Eastern Time – Washington D.C.)

IFC is looking for a Consultant to help assess the impact of an investment project in logo_ifcUganda, financed by IFC and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.

The project is expected to be a senior loan to a bank in Uganda focused on the micro and small market segments. The purpose of the project is to support the expansion of the banks lending program to micro enterprises owned by women and in the agriculture sector.

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