Sunday, February 3, 2019
Why is gender inequality so pervasive? Where does it come from and what causes it to arise from time to time? Does it have cultural and religious roots? What values are needed to confront its resurgence worldwide and what policies will enable us to create societies in which being born a boy or a girl is no longer a reason for whether or not or for how long or to what a degree we can develop our human potential?
We will take a look at some of these difficult questions and measures their cost on the security of individuals and society as a whole. We focus on how various restrictions against women have a direct impact on the economy of countries and the world. We evaluate the ways in which they undermine the talent pool available to the private sector, distort family relationships, and lead to inefficiencies in the use of resources. We analyze how gender bias contributes to an environment in which women, de facto, are second-class citizens, with fewer options than men, lower quality jobs, and lower pay. And we look at the devastating consequences of such inequality in terms of health, life expectancy and violence against girls and women, from the cradle to the grave.
Women are not yet fully politically empowered to change laws and implement new legal instruments to ensure gender equality worldwide. We have still scant presence in the corridors of power, whether as finance ministers, central bank governors, prime ministers or on the boards of leading corporations. Most importantly, in many parts of the world, including countries which consider themselves “advanced” many girls still receive less educational opportunities and less encouragement to pursue the development of their highest potential. This alone creates a vicious cycle of inequality that persists generation after generation. But perhaps if we include an economic perspective in our arsenal to promote gender equality, the penny might finally drop. The bottom line is, we simply cannot afford gender discrimination any longer.
For the 2018 academic year Augusto Lopez-Claros, on leave from the World Bank, was a Senior Fellow at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Between 2011 and 2017 he was the Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, the department responsible for the Bank’s Doing Business report and other international benchmarking studies. Previously he was Chief Economist and Director of the Global Competitiveness Program at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, where he was also the Editor of the Global Competitiveness Report, the Forum’s flagship publication, as well as a number of regional economic reports. Before joining the Forum he worked for several years in the financial sector in London, with a special focus on emerging markets. He was the International Monetary Fund’s Resident Representative in the Russian Federation during the 1990s.
Before joining the IMF, Lopez-Claros was a Professor of Economics at the University of Chile in Santiago. He was educated in England and the United States, receiving a diploma in Mathematical Statistics from Cambridge University and a PhD in Economics from Duke University. He is a much-sought-after international speaker, having lectured in the last several years at some of the world’s leading universities and think tanks. In 2007 he was a coeditor of The International Monetary System, the IMF, and the G-20: A Great Transformation in the Making? and The Humanitarian Response Index: Measuring Commitment to Best Practice, both published by Palgrave. He was the editor of The Innovation for Development Report 2009–2010: Strengthening Innovation for the Prosperity of Nations, published by Palgrave in November 2009. More recent publications include: “Removing Impediments to Sustainable Economic Development: The Case of Corruption” (2015), “Fiscal Challenges After the Global Financial Crisis: A Survey of Key Issues” (2014) and “The Moral Dimension of the Fight Against Corruption” (2017) (augustolopezclaros.com). In May of 2018 Sweden’s Global Challenges Foundation awarded Lopez-Claros the New Shape Prize for his work (with Arthur Dahl and Maja Groff) “Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century.”
Bahiyyih Nakhjavani was born in Iran, grew up in Uganda and was educated in Britain. After completing her doctorate in the USA, she taught English and related literature in Europe, Africa and the Middle East as well as Canada and America. She has published two titles in the UK (Bloomsbury), three in the US (Stanford University Press) and four in France (Actes Sud). Many of her novels are also available in Spanish (Alianza) and Italian (Rizzoli). She currently lives in France where she has been teaching and writing for the past twenty years.