CIPE Development Blog Strengthening democracy through private enterprise and market oriented reform Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:16:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Outcry Against Corruption Helps Drive a Change of Leadership in Sri Lanka Thu, 22 Jan 2015 17:16:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Sri Lankan election officials carry ballot boxes under police guard. (Photo: VOA News)

Sri Lankan election officials carry ballot boxes under police guard. (Photo: VOA News)

While it is hard to identify all of the issues that drove Sri Lankans during the country’s recent – and for many observers, surprising – elections, a cry for change was evident. Voters had clearly grown tired of corruption, cronyism, and authoritarianism, and there have been widespread calls for investigations into a range of alleged human rights abuses.

On January 8, in an unexpected turn of events, 15 million Sri Lankans, representing a 75 percent voter turnout, went to the polls and ousted incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in favor of Maithripala Sirisena, Rajapaksa’s former Health Minister who shocked many by declaring his intent to run for office. Rajapaksa, who was South Asia’s longest-serving political head of state, in office since 2005, had turned increasingly authoritarian. He called these elections two years early, seeking a third term. It seems unlikely that he anticipated the defection of Sirisena and a number of other parliamentarians.

As a former minister with Rajapaksa’s government for nearly 10 years, Sirisena has strong connections to the prior regime. Thus, the shift does not necessarily signal a radical new direction. But there is the strong possibility of, and hope for, change for Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa’s popularity and power base came from the majority Sinhalese population. He was credited with ending Sri Lanka’s 26-year long civil war in 2009 and stimulating a seven percent growth rate in 2013, in part through the return of the country’s tourism industry. However, there is mounting evidence that Rajapaksa and his family, as well as the military, oversaw the growth of deeply-entrenched corruption in all facets of the economy. Some estimate that the Rajapaksa family has control over two-thirds of the national budget.

His rule was also marked by an increasingly oppressive authoritarian methods in dealing with not only minority Tamils and Muslims, but anyone who challenged him. For instance, the military was given control over the police force and other civilian institutions.

Indeed, during a campaign rally in the Tamil-dominated areas of northeastern Sri Lanka – far from his power base among the majority Sinhalese – Rajapaksa said, “I am the known devil, so please vote for me.”

Sirisena ran a campaign focused on fighting corruption and reinvigorating democracy, and sought to style himself as a sharp contrast to Rajapaksa, who had emphasized stability while compromising rights. The public’s disdain for the status quo and a clear “growing mood for change,” galvanized Sirisena’s message of less corruption and nepotism.

Since the election Sirisena has pledged to “abolish the executive presidency” and institute a “100-day work program” in order to create better systems of governance. In particular, he plans independent committees to ensure the impartiality of the police and judiciary. One result in the elections was particularly promising: despite Sirisena’s support for some Buddhist fundamentalist parties, he gained the support of the major parties representing Tamils and Muslims, who account for 30 percent of the country’s population. This could bode well for reconciliation efforts in the aftermath of the civil war.

Much, of course, remains to be seen. Deep reforms are need to improve Sri Lanka’s institutions, encourage national unity, transcend ethnic barriers, and heal a popular psyche still damaged from war and abuse allegations. Sirisena’s ability to effect change might be limited by a need to appease a variety of ethnic coalition groups that supported him. Attempts to repeal harsh laws that provide immunity to military and police could cost him the support of the military, a powerful stakeholder during the Rajapaksa years.

It is notable that Sirisena, who at one time served as Acting Defense Minister, has so far stated that, like Rajapaksa, he would not permit international investigation into the allegations of war crimes committed against Tamils at the end of the war. Thus while there is a new atmosphere of hope and potential openness in Sri Lanka, much will depend on the work of civil society groups to hold the new government accountable for its promises of change.

Janani Ramachandran is a Program Assistant for Eurasia and South Asia at CIPE.

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Technology and Democracy in Burma Fri, 16 Jan 2015 19:54:32 +0000 Continue reading ]]> A Burmese man checks his mobile phone.(Photo: Flickr)

A Burmese man checks his mobile phone.(Photo: Flickr)

Since 2011, Burma has slowly been transitioning into a fledgling democracy from a reclusive military dictatorship. Some positive steps have taken place – multi-party elections have been held and more than 3,000 political prisoners have been freed. Yet as the U.S. deputy national security adviser stated recently, “[p]arts of the reform effort have stalled, parts have moved forward and parts, we’ve seen, have even moved backward, so it’s a mixed picture.”

The biggest test for Burma’s democratic transition is the upcoming general elections taking place in November. For citizens to make informed decisions and to hold future leaders accountable, they must be empowered with knowledge. The potential political leaders also must be educated about how to govern, as well as find ways to communicate and engage with their constituents. And technology, more specifically mobile phones, will have a large role to play for both groups.

According to a recent OneWorld report, Burma’s democratic development coincides with policy changes in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector. While only about 10 percent of the  population now own mobile phones, this number is expected to leap significantly (up to 80 percent by 2016) as international telecommunication companies from Norway, Qatar, and Japan are working to launch affordable services and enhance data connections. And youth, who are the majority in Burma (the median age is 27) and the hopeful drivers of the transition, are typically the first adopters of new technologies in the country.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for Burma’s democracy. Due to decades of autocratic military rule, the civil society sector is just emerging and its capacity is limited. As more people have access to mobile technology and learn to use them, more citizens can participate in civil society or media, and for the government to engage with its constituents via mobile phones.

To learn more about current state of ICT, democracy and active citizenship in Myanmar, read more about in the full report of OneWorld’s recent scoping study.

Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.

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Beyond “Doing Business”: The Economic Implications of Public Opinion in Afghanistan Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:01:47 +0000 Continue reading ]]> BIGHEADER_AFSurvey2014

In early November, the World Bank published its annual “Doing Business Report,” which assesses government regulations that support or constrain business activity across 189 countries. This year, Afghanistan again ranked near the bottom, down one spot from last year, in the 183rd position. The full report on Afghanistan can be found here.

There is no disputing that Afghanistan is a difficult place to do business, yet as has been noted in the past on the CIPE blog, there are inherent limitations to what the Doing Business rankings measure. We frequently point out that these indicators reflect the “laws on the books,” or the formal economic environment, but do not address the so-called implementation gap between those laws and practice. There have been cases in which countries introduce reforms specifically to move up the rankings, but surveys of entrepreneurs reveal that business continues “as usual,” as these new laws do not work in reality, either because of a lack of political will or low public administration capacity. In addition, political stability and democratic legitimacy are not captured in the Doing Business rankings. Egypt was a “top reformer” prior to 2010, but the events in Tahrir Square were to a great extent fueled by economic woes.

In order to get a more comprehensive view of a country’s economic environment, it is useful to consider public opinion and understand attitudes towards state institutions and processes. In the case of Afghanistan, the Asia Foundation’s annual Survey of the Afghan People is one such tool. This year’s report is especially meaningful given the country’s post-election mood, and its implications for public confidence in the country’s economic environment.

In the past, CIPE too has examined the importance of public opinion in Afghanistan. In 2010, in collaboration with Charney Research, CIPE published a survey on “Afghanistan Business Attitudes on Economy, Government, and Business Associations.” This highlighted general optimism among Afghan businesses about their business prospects. CIPE’s report also showed that Afghans have a keen understanding of policy reform needs.

The report also stressed the importance of concerns over security and corruption, which are key challenges that are not easily captured in a survey of the regulatory environment. Likewise, while the Asia Foundation’s new survey might not necessarily paint an optimistic picture of Afghanistan’s economic environment, it highlights other important factors that contribute to shaping the business climate beyond the regulatory environment, helping develop a more nuanced understanding of the country and more informed prospects for international support.

To prepare its report, the Asia Foundation surveyed 8,705 Afghans across all 34 provinces; most respondents were from accessible, “secure” areas, and 500 were from less accessible, semi-secure and insecure areas. There was an even gender ratio in the secure areas, with all in-person, same-sex interviewees. This survey raises several interesting points regarding the post-election mood, concerns about unemployment and corruption, the role of women in the economy, and security challenges.


It is most interesting to note that despite the challenges the country faces, the majority of Afghans surveyed after the elections believed Afghanistan is “moving in the right direction,” thanks to reconstruction efforts, better security, and improved education systems. In addition, 64 percent of Afghans believe that the elections will “make life better,” up from 58 percent in 2013, and only 12 percent believe the elections will “make life worse.”


The survey highlights an issue that we frequently emphasize at CIPE: the importance of the economy  as a national political issue. The biggest “areas for concern” for Afghans included unemployment and the poor economy (37 percent) and corruption (28 percent). At the local level, economic concerns also rank highly. Indeed, the centrality of employment concerns has not varied considerably since the first survey was conducted in 2006.

At the same time, corruption has become a more significant issue over the years, with 62 percent of Afghans agreeing that it was a “major problem,” compared to only 42 percent in 2006. Of course, the economic climate is undoubtedly impacted by Afghanistan’s volatile security environment, with insecurity still a key reason for pessimism. The percentage of those who fear for their personal safety has increased since 2006.


The survey also provides interesting data about the role of women in Afghanistan’s economy.  There has been a five percent increase this year in the number of households in which women contribute to a family’s income. The majority of Afghans support a woman’s right to work outside of the house (though survey trends also show that the percentage of those opposed has not decreased). A greater percentage of Afghan women now consider themselves “unemployed” rather than “housewives,” which points to a re-shaping of personal identity with great implications for entrepreneurship. To capitalize on such momentum, CIPE has recently begun to work with the Peace Through Business Network, a nascent women’s association, to build its capacity to advocate for expanded opportunities for women.


While women’s economic participation has been hampered by a persistent imbalance in educational opportunities, there is some evidence that this might be changing. Despite the fact that 74 percent of surveyed women had no formal schooling (as opposed to 42 percent of men), this figure does not reflect the under-18 population, for which increased girls’ enrollment rates are estimated to have increased from three percent in 2001 to 43 percent today.


These results demonstrate why it is important to consider public opinion in Afghanistan to gain insight onto the variety of factors that shape its increasingly dynamic, yet volatile, economy. Surveys can serve as a global public good to shed light onto perceptions of on-the-ground realities, which technical analyses of the codified legal environment simply cannot. A more nuanced understanding of Afghan attitudes can improve the efforts of international partners and champions of economic reform, and can support the country’s emerging path to prosperity and equality.

Janani Ramachandran is a Program Assistant for Eurasia and South Asia at CIPE.

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2015 and Beyond: Considering the New Development Agenda Mon, 12 Jan 2015 20:39:49 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

“The year 2015 offers a unique opportunity for global leaders and people to end poverty, transform the world to better meet human needs and the necessities of economic transformation, while protecting our environment, ensuring peace and realizing human rights. We are at a historic crossroads, and the directions we take will determine whether we will succeed or fail on our promises,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in the synthesis report on the post-2015 agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are rooted in an agreement reached during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, otherwise known as Rio+20, and the adoption of the outcome document, “The Future We Want.” As a cornerstone for the post-2015 development agenda, the 17 SDGs begin where unfinished work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off, with aspirations of poverty eradication, inclusion, human rights, equality, and sustainability.

The Center for International Private Enterprise together with Creative Associates International recently held a forum with Pauline Baker of the Fund for Peace, Tony Pipa of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), J.W. Wright of Creative Associates, and Amb. James Michel, author of “Shaping the New Development Agenda” (available in full or abridged versions), which guided the conversation.

Amb. Michels highlighted the need for internal synergy and focus on inclusive growth, democratic governance, investing in transformative innovation, building local systems, and constructing a multi-stakeholder platform. This mindset reflects the Busan Partnership agreement which outlines principles, commitments, and actions that offer a foundation for effective co-operation in support of international development. The Busan Partnership document specifically highlights a set of common principles for all development actors that are key to making development cooperation effective:

  • ownership of development priorities by developing countries;
  • focus on results;
  • inclusive development partnerships;
  • and transparency and accountability to each other.

At this crossroads, we must ask: Are the poor and middle income countries participating more or less within the global community? And a step further, more or less effectively? As Amb. Michel noted, the development community must be responsive:

“First, I’m convinced that a virtuous circle of inclusive growth and improved governance is going to be essential as a foundation for pursuing the goals in the new development agenda. And second, I’m convinced that international support for this new agenda will need to be more responsive to the complex factors that influence each society’s path towards stability, justice and prosperity. We can’t work linear – to put this input in and get this output out and not recognize the differences in the needs, priorities, cultures, economies, and politics of the places where we’re working.”

Drawing from her work with fragile and conflict-affected states, Pauline Baker of the Fund for Peace highlighted crucial elements that, while broadly mentioned in the SDGs, should be spelled out more clearly. Fragile states have been lumped in with other states, and in doing so are either left in limbo or worse, behind. Development goals require special consideration of the unique factors within these countries, for example – poor data collection, demographic change (i.e. youth bulge and soaring birth rates), and the movement of people (refugees and those displaced).

What is more, conflict is closely linked to competition for resources, and political legitimacy for stabilizing countries and group grievance must be accounted for. Finally, Baker underlined that “women can be state-builders and are fundamental to development,” but equity goes beyond quotas and empowerment and means access to education and financial resources, protection from physical abuse and violence, and political security through legally enforced rights.

Globally, women and youth form a large portion of those confined to operating in the informal economy. With entrepreneurship ecosystems and governance among its core focus areas, CIPE’s work has focused on engaging the large percentage of the world’s labor force working off the books. Locked out by a wall of red tape, entrepreneurs don’t pay taxes, have unregistered businesses, and receive limited legal protection or access to credit. This allows only for operating at a subsistence level with little opportunity to thrive or grow.

CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan highlighted two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foundational in creating the conditions for economic growth are goals 8 and 16. Goal 8 calls for the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Goal 16 recommends building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to support sustainable development.

The roots of the large informal sector in most developing countries lie in the lack of strong legal institutions and laws that protect citizens and businesses. Governments and the private sector have a crucial role in creating pathways for businesses into the formal sector as well as building a better enabling environment for entrepreneurship. In turn, these environments mobilize and attract both international and domestic investment and reinvest into infrastructure needed to spark inclusive economic growth.

Comparing the stories of Steve Jobs, whose father was Syrian but who grew up in the United States and co-founded Apple, with that of Mohammad Bouazzi, a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in protest of the confiscation of his cart, illustrates the difference an effective enabling environment can make.

Undoubtedly, the ambitious SDGs will present challenges: international support for implementation of new goals, asymmetry of competing interests, the necessity for a data revolution, and the challenge of policy coherence, as outlined in Amb. Michel’s ”Shaping the New Development Agenda.” But in the words of USAID’s Tony Pipa, “this upcoming year is going to be a significant year for how we as an international community think about what it means to develop.”

Stephanie Bandyk is Program Assistant for Global Programs at CIPE.

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Stakeholder Trust: A Proposal for a Global Business Ethics Principle Thu, 08 Jan 2015 16:44:37 +0000 [1] The choices businesses make can profoundly influence the lives of every person on the planet. Businesses, governments, and people now recognize that businesses must do much more than merely obey the law. Yet discerning and agreeing on globally appropriate rules for business behavior has been a formidable and contentious discussion among business leaders and academics. Continue reading ]]> dowden-nicholsThis article originally appeared on the Russian International Affairs Council blog.

By Patricia E. Dowden and Philip M. Nichols

What standards should businesses observe in their own countries, or abroad? Businesses now have resources and influence that rival or surpass those of governments and certainly of ordinary people.[1] The choices businesses make can profoundly influence the lives of every person on the planet. Businesses, governments, and people now recognize that businesses must do much more than merely obey the law. Yet discerning and agreeing on globally appropriate rules for business behavior has been a formidable and contentious discussion among business leaders and academics.

While acknowledging all of the contentiousness, we now offer a modest proposal for a unifying global business ethics principle:

A basic duty of every organization is to earn stakeholder trust.

This principle is meant to replace a more familiar but flawed imperative: that the basic duty of each business leader is to “maximize shareholder value.” [2] Such a duty has never been explicitly written into corporate law, yet is often practiced by CEOs as a way of avoiding dissatisfied shareholders and being replaced by a similarly dissatisfied Board of Directors. But a single-minded focus on profitability – especially very short-term profitability – has serious limitations and risks to the ongoing enterprise; we will explain why earning and maintaining stakeholder trust – including shareholders — can not only serve businesses’ bottom line over time, but also make the market economies where they operate much more sustainable.

Read More at Corporate Compliance Trends…

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How Pakistan’s Education System Holds Back Economic Growth and Democracy Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:05:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Girls_in_school_in_Khyber_Pakhtunkhwa,_Pakistan_(7295675962)

A recent World Bank report suggests that the country will not meet the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education by 2015. The report ranks Pakistan 113th out of 120 countries in the “Education for All Index.” With seven million out-of-school kids, the challenge is snowballing with each passing year.

Alif Ailaan, a campaign for sending every boy and girl in Pakistan to school, says the country is suffering an “education crisis of unprecedented proportions.” They suggest that:

  • There are 25 million boys and girls out of school—that’s nearly half of all children in the country.
  • Of those children who do go to school, the vast majority receive an education of poor quality.
  • 48 percent of government schools are in a dangerous or dilapidated condition and lack basic facilities such as furniture, bathrooms, boundary walls, electricity and running water.
  • On any given day, 18 percent of teachers are absent from the classroom.
  • Corporal punishment is widespread and remains unchecked.
  • Budget allocations for education are insufficient and funds that are available are not spent effectively.

Earlier this year, UNESCO reported on the state of global primary education. The report raked Pakistan among 21 countries facing an “extensive” learning crisis, according to the report. From enrollment, to dropout rates, to academic performance and literacy, Pakistan scores low in every index.

With the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment in 2010, responsibility for education has been devolved to provincial governments. The report indicates that due to ineffective systems for standardizing the education curriculum and teacher training, the quality of public education remains poor.

“The lack of teachers is not as detrimental as incompetent teachers” – Dr Jaffar Ahmed, Director, Pakistan Study Centre at the University of Karachi

On one hand, there is a shortage of schools, and on the other hand, a study showed that there were over 1,200 “ghost” schools in Pakistan where teachers are drawing salaries but where no educational activity was taking place.

Nearly 50 percent of Pakistan’s population cannot read or write. The ratio for females is abysmally lower, especially in certain parts of Pakistan such as in rural Sindh and Balochistan, where the ratio for female literacy is 23 percent and 16 percent respectively. Pakistan certainly has to declare Education Emergency and increase its spending on increasing literacy across the country.

Successive governments have been talking about increasing budget allocation for education, however, the combined budget allocation for education by all tiers of government in Pakistan is stagnant for the past several years at around 2.4 percent of GDP. As the sixth most populous country in the world with close to 200 million people, if Pakistan needs to reduce illiteracy, governments must give due priority to education and increase budgetary spending for education sector.

Education is the only way to ensure a flourishing democratic system in Pakistan, as only an educated, empowered, and aware citizenry can hold politicians accountable for their promises!

Hammad Siddiqui is Deputy Country Director for CIPE Pakistan.

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“Betrayed” – The Search for Inclusion in Development Mon, 05 Jan 2015 16:10:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> betrayedWhy have China and Ghana achieved impressive growth and poverty reduction while Nigeria has seen an increase in poverty even as its economy grew to be the largest in Africa? The answer to this question lies in the relationships between the poor and elites, and specifically in patterns of social inclusion and exclusion. That is the conclusion reached by Seth Kaplan in his book Betrayed: Politics, Power, and Prosperity, based on a study of scholarly literature and personal observations in developing countries. Without a doubt, inclusion presents a fundamental challenge of development, and Kaplan has dug down to frame the core of the problem.

Kaplan makes an argument in two parts, which are linked by political economy. He focuses on the poor as primary developmental actors, stating that their own actions do most to transform their lives. Their actions are conditional upon being given opportunity, however, and in fact the poor usually are excluded from opportunity. The origins of social exclusion, in turn, may be found in a combination of weak governance and social cleavages, which promote a politics of narrow self interest instead of national development.

It is refreshing to see Kaplan keep the focus on growth in “inclusive growth.” Although often taken for granted, growth is the mechanism for creating jobs and raising government revenues. The challenge is to achieve high-quality, sustainable growth that increases productivity while expanding opportunity. In this regard, access to markets empowers the poor. A business environment that reduces costs, and establishes free and fair markets, creates incentives for taking initiative and creating jobs. By contrast, elite capture of markets discourages initiative and disenfranchises much of the population.

Effective and inclusive governments play essential roles in providing legal protections, investments in education and infrastructure, and policies for broad-based growth. Here the challenge begins with state capacity building and extends to building pressure for accountability in government. Kaplan calls for leadership from all levels of society—including political leadership, civic leadership, and business leadership—to push towards a more inclusive system. Political development helps, but does not guarantee, the emergence of an inclusive development agenda.

Betrayed does not expect all good things to come together in the short run in developing countries, and thus suggests a range of strategies to promote inclusiveness in varying circumstances, including authoritarian systems. In this sense, it resembles other recent work such as Brian Levy’s Working with the Grain: Integrating Governance and Growth in Development Strategies. While I applaud the pragmatic approach to fostering inclusiveness, I would encourage practitioners to keep democracy and anti-corruption in their sights as they navigate the twists and turns of development. Both matter to the poor, even in the shorter run, as these factors influence their ability to have a voice and secure their livelihoods.

Kim Bettcher is Senior Knowledge Manager at CIPE.

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CIPE Executive Director and Partners Honored in Ethisphere Business Ethics Ranking Wed, 31 Dec 2014 20:27:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

This post originally appeared on Corporate Compliance Trends.

Ethics is an increasingly important component of doing business for both small and medium sized enterprises to multinational corporations in today’s globalized world. The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has long been an active advocate for better business practices with its focus on anti-corruption initiatives and promoting corporate social responsibility.

Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, recognized CIPE leaders and partners for their contributions to advancing business ethics. Ethisphere magazine listed CIPE’s Executive Director John D. Sullivan and Michael Hershman, member of CIPE’s board of directors, as the top 100 most influential individuals in business ethics in 2014.

Hershman is an internationally recognized expert on matters relating to transparency, accountability, governance, litigation, and security. Sullivan is the author of numerous publications on the transition to democracy, corporate governance, anti-corruption, and market-oriented democratic development. Under his leadership, CIPE developed a number of innovative approaches that link democratic development to market reforms in the areas of combating corruption, promoting corporate governance, building the capacity of business associations, supporting the informal sector, and assisting women and youth entrepreneurs. Sullivan recently delivered remarks to mark the anniversary of the UN Global Compact in New York, which commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 10th Principle against Corruption. Sullivan’s remarks emphasized the importance of addressing the issues of the business enabling environment and the informal sector as the key factors in accomplishing the anti-corruption goal of the Compact.

Additionally, Ethisphere recognized Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of theCenter for Study of Democracy in Bulgaria, and Dr. Jesus Estanislao, Chairman of the Philippine Institute of Corporate Directors and the Institute for Solidarity in Asia. The Center for the Study of Democracy, a long-time CIPE partner, is a champion of anti-corruption efforts in Bulgaria and has played an integral role in the efforts to combat corruption, promote transparency and accountability. Furthermore, CIPE has worked with both the Philippine Institute of Corporate Directors and the Institute for Solidarity in Asia on initiatives toimprove public governance at all levels in the Philippines.

Estanislao is also a Steering Committee member of the Free Enterprise and Democracy Network (FEDN), established by CIPE in 2012 to promote international engagement around the principles of free enterprise and democracy. The network provides a mechanism for private sector leaders and advocates of economic freedom to participate in an exchange of ideas across borders and make the case for democratic, prosperous societies. FEDN’s experts also advise and provide technical assistance to market reformers in countries undergoing democratic transitions. They share their knowledge of specific policy subjects, governance, and economics, as well as broader lessons and experience with democratic processes.

In a global business environment that pays great attention to increasing transparency and combating corruption, Ethisphere’s ranking highlights the importance of business ethics and recognizes the value of ethical leadership in business, government, academia, and non-profits.

Teodora Mihaylova is Research Coordinator at CIPE.

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Womenomics and Abenomics Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:03:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> By Tyler Makepeace

At the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan expounded on his program for economic reform, known as Abenomics. The plan consists of three “arrows”: monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms. Structural reforms, the third arrow, have been the most difficult to implement, among them increasing the economic opportunities for women in Japan. As Abe noted during his speech “the female labor force in Japan is the most under-utilized resource. Japan must become a place where women shine.” Abe later stated a firm goal to have women in 30 percent of “leading positions” in Japan by 2020, however the method by which this goal will be realized is anything but clear.

Currently, Japanese women face a number of challenges in the workforce, ranging from cultural norms to institutionalized incentives. The 2013 Global Gender Gap report, prepared by the World Economic Forum, placed Japan at 105 out of the 135 countries included. Only 62.5 percent of women participated in the workforce, compared with 67 percent in the United States, and after having their first child, 70 percent of Japanese women permanently exit the workforce, compared to 30 percent in the United States.

Most disheartening, at large Japanese companies only 10.6 percent of managers were female, and female participation in the Japanese Diet declined from 11 percent to 8 percent after the 2012 elections. Despite some incremental gains in the labor participation rate since 2010, Kathy Matsui, the managing director at Goldman Sachs who originally coined the term “womenomics,” estimates that if the level of female participation in the labor force were increased to equal the participation rate of males in Japan, it would lead to an increase in Japan’s GDP of about 12.5 percent.

In order to map out Japan’s progress in the area of Womenomics, the government has developed a several key performance indicators, or KPI.

  1. Target 30% female representation in leadership across society by 2020
  2. Lift female participation rate in workforce between ages 25-44 to 73% by 2020
  3. Raise the percentage of women returning to work after first child to 55% by 2020
  4. Boost supply of childcare facilities with aim of eliminating children on waitlists by 2017
  5. Increase percentage of fathers who take paternity leave to 13% by 2020

Matsui, in her most recent report on womenomics in Japan, urges Abe and the Japanese government to go further in their reforms, specifically cites deregulating daycare centers, liberalizing immigration laws, changing the tax code which currently provide incentives to keep women in part-time positions, mandating corporate disclosures of gender-related statistics, and encouraging Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party to boost female participation in government. While unleashing womenomics is particularly crucial in Japan due to its aging society, according the Global Gender Gap Report “no country has closed the economic participation gap or the political empowerment gap,” therefore, every single country, whether developing or developed, can gain by embracing women’s participation in business and politics.

Tyler Makepeace is a Knowledge Management Intern at CIPE.

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Giving Women a Voice in Pakistan’s Media Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:07:13 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
Watch an interview with Tasneem Ahmar conducted by CIPE Program Officer Jennifer Anderson.

It is widely accepted by development experts that women are a largely untapped source of potential around the world. Women constitute approximately 50 percent of the human population and whether talking about political, economic, or social development, they have the ability to contribute vast advancements. However, in many countries around the world, women are excluded from participating in meaningful ways. In Pakistan, CIPE friend and partner Tasneem Ahmar is working through the media to change the perception of women in order to increase their ability to contribute to the nation’s development.

Having been raised in a family of media professionals, Tasneem discovered early on that women were not portrayed the same as men in print and broadcast media, leading to an undervaluing of women as a whole. Using Pakistan’s recent elections as an example, she has described how women candidates were only portrayed as objects with the main topics of discussion focusing around their wardrobe, hairstyles, and accessories rather than meaningful conversation about their stance on the issues. In an effort to change this pattern and change Pakistani perceptions, Tasneem established the Uks Research Center in 1997.  

Uks, which means “reflection” in Urdu, focuses on changing the portrayal of women in the media.  Since the organization’s inception, Uks has worked to train journalists and reporters on how to properly report a story involving women rather than contributing to gender biases. For example, following devastating earthquakes in Pakistan Ahmar noticed that women were typically brought into the narrative only as helpless victims who were crying more often than not. As a result, Uks worked with journalists to portray women as having a strong role in rehabilitation simply by incorporating images and stories of women helping to rebuild affected areas. In addition to workshops and on-desk training, Uks operates as a type of watchdog having established a complaint center to gather reports of biased reporting and holding media groups accountable to the gender sensitive codes of ethics for both print and broadcast media outlets.

Under Tasneem’s direction, Uks also works to empower women directly through training and by providing them with a voice. Working with CIPE, Uks trained a number of female journalists in economic reporting. By equipping these women with the skills to present relevant and interesting stories, Uks helped to incorporate them into the national development dialogue. Ahmar is also an executive producer for a radio show titled, “Give Me My Voice” which regularly convenes women to add a female voice to ongoing conversations. This acts not only as a way for women to participate in the national dialogue, but also offers an opportunity for others to see the value women can bring to the table and hopefully alter their perspectives.

The work that Uks does under the leadership of Tasneem is crucial if lasting change is to be achieved. While other approaches such as establishing quotas for women on parliamentary rosters or in board rooms can be meaningful advancements, they cannot by themselves bring women onto a level playing field. Advocates must also work to change perceptions of women in their local societies. Not only so that others see them as valuable contributors but so that they value themselves as well. As Tasneem put it, “We must give a positive view to women in order to bring out the best in women.”

Frank Stroker is an Assistant Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.

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