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Promoting Inclusive Growth and Gender Equality


Despite significant progress in recent decades, gender disparities persist in labor markets worldwide, as highlighted in the 2024 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group on the session "Promoting Inclusive Growth and Gender Equality." The IMF highlights that closing the gender gap in emerging countries' labor markets could potentially boost GDP by 23%, crucial for post-pandemic recovery. However, challenges remain: female labor force participation rates lag behind males, gender wage gaps persist, and women are disproportionately represented in the informal sector and among the impoverished. Moreover, legal constraints hinder women from realizing their full economic potential.


ECONOMIC INCLUSION IS KEY

Economic inclusion is instrumental in reintegrating women into the workforce as it grants them access to resources, opportunities, and decision-making authority crucial for their well-being. When women are economically empowered, they can actively participate in the workforce, contribute to household finances, and make financial decisions that benefit them and their families. To achieve this, providing women with the necessary "tools," such as tailored training and skill development programs or capacity building, with a special emphasis on leveraging technology for empowerment, is essential. An example of this can be seen in Egypt's innovative initiatives in digital financial inclusion, exemplified by the Digital Village Savings and Loans Associations (DVSLA) "Tahweesh." These programs aim to economically and financially integrate women in rural villages by offering banking services and promoting financial literacy. The introduction of the "Tahwisha" application, a digital platform tailored for rural women, is positively impacting the lives of 1.2 million women across 13 governorates.


THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENTS

Placing women at the forefront of all national development, social, and economic plans is crucial, as they are key pillars of family development planning. Legislative infrastructure, such as amended investment laws and workplace protections ensuring equal pay tailored to each country's population, creates an environment conducive to gender equality, enabling women to assume leadership positions and uplift underprivileged groups. Moreover, government collaboration and partnerships with international organizations are essential. These partnerships foster regional cooperation, pooling resources, expertise, and efforts to address shared challenges. Initiatives like the “African Women’s Priorities Adapted to Climate Change - AWCAP,” launched during COP27 and led by the Government of Egypt, aim to enhance women’s economic empowerment in green sectors and STEM fields. Through leveraging national investments for women-led green businesses, these initiatives contribute to sustainable development and gender equality on a regional scale.


Closing the gender gap is not just a social issue but also a macro-critical one that significantly impacts economic development. Recognizing this, the IMF emphasizes the importance of addressing gender disparities through well-designed macroeconomic, structural, and financial policies that foster inclusive outcomes. Reflecting on insights from the Spring Meetings, it is clear that achieving gender equality and inclusive growth requires collaborative action across various domains to create a more equitable and prosperous society.


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