Millennium Development Goals

Goal 3

Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women by 2015

Q: How can women's empowerment promote economic stability?
A: Putting resources into poor women’s hands while promoting gender equality in the household and in society results in large development payoffs. Expanding women’s opportunities in public works, agriculture, finance, and other sectors accelerates economic growth, helping to mitigate the effects of current and future financial crises.

World Bank Group: Gender Equality Is Key to Achieving the MDGs

Empowering women and girls is not only the right thing to do: It’s also smart economics and vital to ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity—the World Bank Group’s twin corporate goals. For example, an extra year of secondary schooling for girls can increase their future wages by 10 to 20%. And evidence shows that resources in the hands of women boost household spending in areas that benefit children. But despite a range of significant advances, too many women still lack basic freedoms and opportunities and face huge inequalities in the world of work. Discriminatory laws and customs constrain their time and choices, as well as their ability to own or inherit property, open bank accounts, or access inputs such as credit or fertilizer that would boost their productivity. The World Bank Group has made strong commitments on gender, highlighting in particular the need for better data. We have, further, mainstreamed gender throughout our work: All World Bank Group country strategies prepared in the 2014 fiscal year drew on gender assessments, while 95% of approved lending operations integrated gender in at least one dimension—analysis, action, and/or monitoring and evaluation. Gender equality is also a key priority for IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, which enabled more than 194 million pregnant women to receive prenatal care from a health provider between 2003 and 2013, among other results.

A woman-owned jewelry business, Kenya. A woman-owned jewelry business, Kenya.
We can achieve gender equality by:
educating girls
increasing literacy rates among women
increasing early childhood development interventions
increasing women’s labor force participation and strengthening labor policies affecting women
improving women’s access to credit, land and other resources
promoting women’s political rights and participation
expanding reproductive health programs and family support policies

Making Strides in Gender Equality

Two-thirds of the Bank’s partner countries have now reached gender parity in primary education, and girls significantly outnumber boys in secondary education in more than one-third of those countries. IDA investments and collaboration with governments have enabled women to access land and secure tenure rights.

Our Gender Equality Strategy

  • Strengthen nutrition, disease prevention, and maternal health programs
  • Improve women’s and girls’ education and life skills
  • Expand women’s access to credit and economic opportunity

Some of Our MDG 3 Results

IDA is helping to achieve MDG 3 by investing in girls’ education. Gender parity in primary schools in countries supported by IDA increased from 91 to 96 girls for every 100 boys enrolled between 2000 and 2010.

  • Afghanistan: 2.7 million girls were enrolled in schools in 2012, up from 191,000 in 2002.
  • Benin: 60% of pregnant women slept under bed nets in 2010, up from 20% in 2006.
  • Kyrgyz Republic: Close to 1 million women and girls benefited from community-based micro-enterprises and improved local government between 2007 and 2010.

How’s the World Doing?

  • 2countries out of 130 have achieved gender equality at all levels of education.
  • 16.2%of ministerial-level positions are held by women (2010).
  • 40% of wage-earning jobs in the non-agricultural sector were held by women in 2011.
  • 1% of global agriculture credit goes to African women.


Women in Senegal

Energy to Change Women's Lives in Africa

Energy projects in Senegal include women in the decision-making process.

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Results Profile

Sarah Haddock/World Bank

Rwanda: Investing in Young Women Pays Off

Program boosts job skills and incomes among disadvantaged adolescent girls and young women.

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World Bank’s Commitment to Gender Equality

  • 1990-2005: $5.5 billion in lending for girls’ education programs.
  • 2010: $800 million for agricultural projects that include women farmers.
  • FY10-FY13: Total share of gender-informed lending rose from 54% to 98%, or nearly $31 billion in FY13.


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