Investing in the people of Africa has an impact and strengthens efforts to overcome the pandemic
The plan defines specific objectives and financial commitments within the framework of the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people for greater equity and economic growth. One year after the launch of the Plan, there has not only been a a significant scale-up, but also a change in World Bank support to African countries. The Bank has committed nearly $ 7.5 billion in financing specifically for human development projects over the past year (more than double the previous year), while strengthening support for human capital in the sectors of agriculture, social inclusion, water, sanitation and other sectors. .
Investing in women’s empowerment and demographic change
, and women and girls bear the brunt of these impacts. Behind these disturbing numbers, however, there is also a story of hope and a powerful message for the world and its decision-makers: investments in women’s empowerment – through access to quality education, pathways to access to employment and sexual and reproductive health care – are now more important than ever.
“Investing in women and girls is essential to deliver on the promise of development. It’s that simple, ”said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “That’s why we’ve helped our clients with more than $ 2.2 billion in new World Bank-funded projects that invest in women’s health, education and employment opportunities.
These projects address the multiple constraints women and girls face, including addressing child marriage by strengthening girls’ education, focusing on family planning services and ensuring stronger legal frameworks. for the protection of women and children. All of this can help African countries accelerate their demographic transition – from high birth and infant mortality rates to low birth and death rates.
One of these projects is the flagship Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project (SWEDD). By mobilizing religious leaders, SWEDD contributes to changing social norms and behavior towards women and girls like Lemeima mint El Hadrami, who lives in the Sahel.
Lemeima is Mauritanian and married at the age of 13. She immediately dropped out of school because her pregnancy was difficult. She was going to have two daughters. Her husband would leave her.
“I refused to marry my daughter for one simple reason: I want my daughter to be independent,” said Lemeima. “I don’t want her to go through the same difficulties as me. I wish she had a good job. She could become a minister, a doctor or a midwife.
The $ 680 million SWEDD project helps countries empower women and adolescent girls; increase their access to quality reproductive, child and maternal health services; and develop policy agendas that put demography and gender at the center of growth.
Coping with fragility and conflict
The challenges of human capital and poverty are increasingly concentrated in fragile contexts. It just means . For example, Liberia is recovering from a conflict that lasted ten years and, more recently, the Ebola crisis that claimed the lives of nearly 5,000.
With over 60 percent of the population under the age of 24, the need for more salaried jobs is in the spotlight. A program for small businesses changes the chances for young Liberian women affected by Ebola, providing income generation support and training on how to create their own self-employment and learn from each other.
“We teach them about the business, how to keep records and save their money,” said Rebecca Totimeh, one of the program’s mentors. “I decided to help because I want to see young girls at work and promote themselves.