World Bank wants to focus on women empowerment and equal opportunity: Official - Hindustan Times
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World Bank wants to focus on women empowerment and equal opportunity: Official

PTI |
Feb 26, 2024 10:09 AM IST

World Bank wants to focus on women empowerment and equal opportunity: Official

If India increases its female labour force participation to 50 per cent, it would help boost GDP growth by 1 per cent which is huge for a country like India, World Bank Managing Director (Operations) Anna Bjerde said.

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The official was in the city recently to visit World Bank-supported projects. She visited the working women's hostel - 'Thozhi' - which has been jointly developed by the Government of Tamil Nadu, World Bank and the private sector and is located at suburban Tambaram.

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TN Chief Minister M K Stalin had inaugurated the hostel in January.

"I think the ultimate achievement while we are focusing on a housing solution for women is because we want to address women empowerment and an equal opportunity for women. What we see by solutions like these is that some of them undertake studies or some take up interesting jobs in IT or manufacturing. That is the testament that the number of hostels have been growing over the last few years and shows that there is demand for it," Bjerde told PTI in a brief interaction.

Observing that the World Bank would continue to engage in developmental programmes for women, she said, "we have a big programme (working women's hostel) here in the State and it is in urban development. This is part of our urban development. I would be interested in seeing supportive successful models that help improve female labour force participation."

Asked whether this model of setting up working women's hostels would be replicated elsewhere in the world, she said, "I think you know in many countries female labour force participation is still quite low and even here in India I would like to see it grow."

"I think any country that has similar demographics and similar social dimensions is trying to grow from lower middle income to upper income developed country. I think they can learn a lot from India" she added.

Bjerde elaborated that such a model would be feasible in African countries and also in South Asia and South East Asia.

"What is very interesting about this model is that it involves public private partnership and the public sector cannot do everything. There are a lot of things that the public sector has to do and the private sector brings in a lot of innovation and efficiency. Public sector provides a lot of issues that the private sector can deal with like land or even some longer term financing."

India has a lot of experience in these kinds of models and other countries are trying to push female labour force participation and if you have urbanisation and housing needs this could be a very good solution, she said.

To a query on why hostels for working women, she said, "what we found around the world is that women make up 50 percent of population and yet female participation in an economy is extremely low. Around the world, some countries are doing much better than others."

"To give an example about our analysis here in India, if India were to increase female labour force participation to 50 per cent, it would increase the GDP of India by 1 per cent and that is huge, because India is a huge economy, " the official said.

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