Writing in TrustLaw’s The Word on Women blog, CIPE Global Program Officer Anna Nadgrodkiewicz makes a strong case for why gender equality matters for development. In addition to being a matter of basic equity, excluding women in the workplace and in government is bad for economic development, leading to lower output from workers, less productive agriculture, and less spending on the kinds of infrastructure and human capital investments that developing countries desperately need. “Therefore,” she writes, “the persistence of gender inequality must be viewed as negative not only in its own right but also as an economic and social loss that hinders a country’s long-term development prospects.”
But providing equal economic opportunities for women in the workplace may not be enough. Only when more women actively participate in the political and civil spheres can societies reach their full potential.
Read the whole article at TrustLaw’s The Word on Women blog.
Congratulations to Betty Maina, Chief Executive of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), a longtime CIPE partner, on her appointment to a high-level panel that will advise the United Nations on the future of the global development agenda.
The world is a very different place today than it was 15 years ago, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that now guide the global development agenda were first adopted. Emerging markets — not only the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, but also increasingly much of Africa and Latin America — are growing rapidly, and democracy continues to spread around the globe. Poverty, hunger, and sickness, while still far too prevalent, have fallen dramatically in many places.
However, development doesn’t end once the most extreme poverty and the most dangerous health risks are eliminated. That’s why Maina will be an important voice on this distinguished panel, which aims to “coordinate inclusive consultations involving civil society, the private sector, academia, and research institutions from all regions” of the world to advance a development agenda for beyond 2015, when the MDGs are set to expire. As the head of one of Kenya’s leading business associations, Maina understands how important the private sector is to truly sustainable long-term development — and how even very poor countries can create an environment that is more favorable to business and entrepreneurship without sidelining the key health and social issues that are at the heart of the MDGs.
The Kenyan Association of Manufacturers has worked for years to overcome the institutional barriers that prevent entrepreneurs and businesspeople in Kenya from starting or expanding their businesses and creating the jobs and economic growth that the country needs for its development. Fostering meaningful dialogue between the private sector and government has been a key part of this process, and CIPE hopes that Maina will continue to be an effective advocate for the private sector in her new role.
Watch a video of Betty Maina discussing how democracy can work for all levels of society at CIPE’s 2009 Democracy That Delivers conference.
A man cooks by candlelight at a small roadside shop. (Photo: AP)
For the last several days, half of India’s population — HALF — has been without electrical power. That’s 600 million people, twice the population of the United States, trying to keep on about their lives without lights, public transportation, or utilities. That’s tens of millions of businesses losing income, product, and potentially livelihoods.
Last month a powerful, fast-moving storm called a derecho disrupted power for hundreds of thousands of people in the Washington, DC area. We all complained mightily, but most suffered little more harm than some spoiled food and a few days without air conditioning. In many places around the world, including India, a few days without power is not at all unusual. In fact, daily brownouts or blackouts are sometimes the norm. Many established firms and wealthy individuals adapt by installing batteries or generators — a drain on the economy. But how can small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs survive and thrive in such uncertainty?
When power is unreliable or inaccessible, businesses and businesspeople suffer. An appropriate, adaptable infrastructure is crucial for economic development and growth, and governments must make it a priority. Investing in infrastructure doesn’t mean simply that the lights stay on. It means that power is available for offices, factories, schools, and hospitals. It means that roads are clear and available to transport goods and services. It means that water is clean and accessible for public consumption, as well as for manufacturing and agriculture.
Infrastructure is not cheap, and many nations believe they have more pressing needs. As India swelters in the dark, however, it is worth remembering that investing in infrastructure is worth it.
The Second Vice President of Afghanistan, Abdul Karim Khalili, addresses participants at a 2011 NBA launch event in Kabul.
In his article in the most recent USAID Frontlines publication, Eric Postel, Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Education and Environment, gave CIPE a nice shout-out for its work in encouraging public-private dialogue. We appreciate the recognition, and the extent to which USAID has supported our efforts both past and present to improve public-private dialogue on economic policy.
Postel’s article is a broader piece that looks at the sum total of the agency’s efforts to promote economic growth and their impact. While cataloguing the work USAID does, from building infrastructure to the role technology plays in spurring growth, the thing that strikes me most is that there is no one silver bullet to promote economic reform and growth. Rather, development policies that deliver must embrace a wide range of activities that require both hard skills (shovel, mortar, and cell phone) and soft skills (advocacy and policy making).
For every business park that’s built we need to ensure that the infrastructure, both physical and regulatory, is present to ensure that enterprises can flourish. This is best done when governments and donors alike take the time to sit down with businesses to discuss their needs and priorities. But too often the business community is poorly prepared to engage in meaningful discussions, leading to frustrations all around.
Last week, physicists at the CERN Large Hadron Collider announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, a long-sought particle that helps explain why all things have mass. The boson, first theorized by Peter Higgs in the 1960s but heretofore unproven, has been dubbed the “God particle” because it appears to be the sine qua non of matter—without this thing, there is nothing. Scientists and slightly befuddled laypersons everywhere heralded the event as a new opportunity to further explain and explore the world around us.
This discovery got me thinking about the underlying forces at work in development. Why do programs work in some locations and not others? Why are some organizations more consistently successful than others? Why can’t all the well-meaning and very smart people in the field figure this out? Of course, human behavior can be (seemingly) less predictable than that of atoms and quarks. Countries have divergent social histories, political systems, and cultural norms. NGOs and state agencies vary widely in their competence and intentions. Even still, there has to be something tangible that gives weight to successful efforts.
One tantalizing possibility might be one of the most obvious. It is simply this: local institutions. It makes intuitive sense, doesn’t it? The people who live in a place know it best. They understand its peculiarities, its history, its moral compass. Where civil society is unrestrained, it flourishes. And where it flourishes, it can strive for profound, positive change. Certainly in CIPE’s long experience, local partners have made all the difference in whether a project succeeded brilliantly, or less so.
The scientists at CERN searched through more than 15 million gigabytes of data per year, analyzing trillions of data points to find the Higgs boson. Unfortunately, there’s nothing like that (yet?) in the development field to give us the answer. Until then, we can only looks for clues and test our assumptions. What do you think is the God particle of development?
CIPE’s Youth Essay contest was established to provide a platform for those nascent advocates, encouraging them to let their ideas and their creativity flourish. The winners in each of this year’s three entry categories – Democratic Transitions, Corruption, and Economically-Sustainable Development – will be published here on the CIPE blog over the course of the next several months.
In this week’s Economic Reform Feature Service article, Economically Sustainable Development first place winner Sarita Sapkota talks about the need for many developing countries to shift from an aid-dependent economic model to one that is more robust and sustainable, and how young people are helping to effect that shift.
Article at a glance:
- In Nepal, foreign aid has remained at the very core of development planning over the last six decades, making a powerful case for both international and local actors to focus on sustainable development and address issues of aid dependency.
- Countries like Nepal do need basic necessities such as food and water, but in order for development initiatives to take root they also need growing economies based on democracy and the rule of law, where citizens have business plans and jobs rather than tents and food parcels.
- Nepal’s youth have been finding their own ways to respond to problems around them by initiating projects, creating businesses, and using social media tools to make their voices heard.
- The path to sustainable development is through making sure that economic growth is stable and that citizens, especially youth, have the opportunity to secure a reliable income.
Read more about all the winners or find out more about CIPE’s Youth Essay Contest.
Image source: sfs.georgetown.edu/ghd
Last week Georgetown University celebrated the launch of an innovative new graduate program: Master of Arts in Global Human Development, beginning in 2012 with the first degrees to be awarded in 2014. The program aims to deepen the understanding of the challenges of development and provide students with tools and experience to address those challenges. As Carol Lancaster, Dean of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service put it, “The establishment of this program recognizes the importance of effective international development to our shared future and the importance of training professionals for a life of innovation and leadership in a field that is rapidly changing itself.”
Dr. Steve Radelet, Chief Economist at USAID, delivered keynote remarks, placing this new academic prorgam in the broader context of the state of development around the world. He emphasized that, historically speaking, tremendous progress has taken place in low-income countries. In 1820, 85% of the world’s population lived on under $1 per day (in real terms) and the number of people in this category kept rising until 1981 up to 1.5 billion but has since dropped in almost half to 800 million. Notably, between 2005 and 2008 the number of people in poverty for the first time fell in every region of the world and the number of countries classified by the World Bank as low income dropped from 63 in 2000 to just 35 now.
Another momentous change in recent decades that Radelet emphasized has been the surge of democratization since the end of the Cold War: never before have so many low-income countries shifted from dictatorship to democracy. These changes created new opportunities for development and necessitate new ways of international cooperation. In particular, the following three aspects of today’s global reality are changing how we think about development:
- Democratization of the developing world means an opportunity to work in partnership with leaders who are more accountable to their people.
- Technology, such as the widespread reach of cell phones, presents an opportunity for innovation in key areas ranging from health to agriculture.
- The rise of private capital flows into developing countries – which increased sevenfold in the last 10 years – is an opportunity to leverage financial resources coming from investors, foundations, and remittances.
Steve Radelet concluded that even though we face serious global challenges such as climate change, demographic pressures, or risk of armed conflicts, we also have unprecedented opportunities to help advance development around the world because of the abovementioned factors. To fully take advantage of those opportunities, the efforts of donors and developing countries themselves must focus on delivering essential services such as education and health, creating job opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, and providing democratic channels through which local populations – and in particular young people – can gain a meaningful voice in the political process and hold their leaders accountable.
What does that mean for aspiring development professionals in Georgetown’s Global Human Development and similar programs? They need a mix of tools and on-the-ground experience to effectively work with local partners. And they need to be facilitators and synthesizers of that knowledge, always providing a range of options while ensuring local ownership of reforms. With its educational philosophy of cura personalis - educating the whole person – Georgetown University is well poised to help students dedicated to reducing global poverty achieve just that through a new multidisciplinary approach to international development.