Women entrepreneurs at a networking even in New Delhi. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
By Laura Boyette and Teodora Mihaylova
Including women in the economy is not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing for a country’s economic growth. Women’s participation in the workforce is potentially a major source of global economic growth and job creation, and yet a recently released World Bank report finds that nearly 90 percent of 143 countries studied contain at “least one legal difference restricting women’s economic opportunities.”
Women make up half of the world’s population, yet face many more cultural, legal, familial, religious, and economic barriers than men to entering the market. These impediments limit women’s ability to provide for themselves and their families, depriving them of the essential human right of autonomy in their decisions, economic opportunities, and the ability to petition the government or have access to institutions. These barriers also deprive countries of significant GDP growth and stand in the way of attaining full development goals. Previous CIPE blogs have discussed the merits of closing the economic participation gender gap, how gender equity is an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda, and the fact that women are natural entrepreneurs but lack resources to develop skills.
The Women, Business and the Law report, recently introduced at the Brookings Institution, examines the legal and regulatory barriers to women’s participation in the workforce through seven indicators: gaining access to institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, going to court, and protecting women from violence.
CIPE Pakistan joined the global community in celebrating the Global Entrepreneurship Week. This year, CIPE’s Pakistan office invited 70 Universities and 140 Chambers and Associations to celebrate GEW. In addition to a number of activities during the week, CIPE Pakistan engaged entrepreneurs and bloggers in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad to share untold entrepreneurial stories online. As a result of this initiative, 43 untold entrepreneurial stories were published.
The inaugural meeting of Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Business Caucus
By CIPE Kabul Staff
Entrepreneurs and businesspeople in Afghanistan face one of the most difficult business environments in the world, so close cooperation between the private sector and government is essential to putting the country’s economy back on track.
On November 16, CIPE capped off more than two years of work by organizing the inaugural meeting of Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Business Caucus, which brings together business-friendly members of parliament (MPs) and representatives of the private sector. This new body will provide a platform to discuss issues of concern to the business community and ways in which the private sector and MPs can work together to make sure that Afghanistan passes key legislation to spur private sector development.
The first meeting brought together 18 MPs, including leading parliamentarians and members of relevant committees, with eight representatives of leading business associations: FACT (the Federation of Afghanistan Craftsmen and Traders), the Afghan Builders’ Association, the Industrialists’ Association, the Fruit Exporters’ Association, the Carpet Exporters’ Guild, the Afghan Chamber, and the Peace Through Business Network – a new women’s association.
“The promotion of the private sector is critical for creating employment opportunities, economic growth and the development of Afghanistan,” said Andrew Wilson, CIPE Deputy Director for Strategic Planning. Wilson affirmed CIPE’s support for, and cooperation with, the Business Caucus. CIPE Kabul staff – Mohammad Nasib, Mohammad Naim, and Ibrahim Hassan – served as moderators, discussing the CIPE-supported National Business Agenda (NBA) and the effort to create the Caucus.
By Andrew Wilson and Marc Schleifer
Last month in Karachi, CIPE’s Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Programs Andrew Wilson and Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda took part in a conference organized by the Pakistan Institute for Corporate Governance, together with CIPE and the Association of Chartered Accountants, on the corporate governance implications of concentrated ownership in listed firms. Wilson was invited to give the keynote address and provide an international perspective at this event, which received coverage by the local press in Pakistan. To help spur discussion, we wanted to share Wilson’s remarks on the CIPE blog, since concentrated ownership is an issue that firms, shareholders and regulators grapple with worldwide.
Some of the basic theories of corporate governance start with an idealized picture of a firm with widely dispersed ownership, but in practice, the theoretical model of diffuse ownership faces problems. When a company is owned by numerous small shareholders, it can be difficult for them to get information about the firm’s operations, meaning that a great deal of the real control rests with management; the principal-agent problem arises and company performance can suffer, to the detriment of the owners (the shareholders). This would seem to argue in favor of a more concentrated ownership system, and in fact, around the world we see that diffuse ownership is indeed the exception, not the rule.
In most countries, the dominant organizational form is concentrated ownership, with control of most firms either in the hands of a family, a larger holding company, major institutional investors, or in some cases the state. This is true even in developed economies with robust capital markets and a high level of private ownership, where individual listed corporations are often part of a complex network of international or domestic holdings, which themselves in turn may or may not be listed. There are various reasons why this might be the case.
by Laura Boyette and Teodora Mihaylova
How effective is the current global development agenda? What needs to be done differently going forward? How can we set goals that are more attainable and sustainable?
In 2000, at the dawn of a new millennium, the United Nations laid out an ambitious global development agenda known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seeks to resolve some of the most pressing international challenges of our time: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality and promoting environmental sustainability, among others. Happily, the world has made some exciting progress toward achieving these goals.
The MDGs will expire on December 31, 2015 and a new set of principles will replace them. In order to face these new challenges, the United Nations once again created a panel to debate the needs that face our world post-2015. In May of 2013, the panel released their report.
At a recent talk at Georgetown University, Chair of the Center for American Progress John Podesta argued that five fundamental shifts have taken place since the inception of the current standards in 2000.