The Transformative Power of Gender Equality in a Time of Crisis
When Nigerian entrepreneur Yetunde Adeyemi opened Active Foods, a commercial bakery in 2015, success to her was to produce 1,000 loaves per day.
Seven years later, Yetunde stood on the stage at the World Bank, proudly announcing to policymakers, development workers, and civil society leaders that her bakery now employs over 300 staff—and produces over 25,000 loaves each day. These accomplishments have been transformative for Yetunde’s family and community—with benefits to societies and economies.
On October 13, along with Yetunde, government ministers, CEOs, bankers and civil society activists spoke to the power of investing in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls during the 2022 IMF and World Bank Group Annual Meetings event “Empowering women to unleash green, resilient, and inclusive development: Should development policy be feminist?”
The speakers answered the event title question with a resounding, “Yes.”
When women participate as policymakers, entrepreneurs, workers and community leaders, societies prosper.
President, World Bank Group
In his opening remarks, World Bank Group President David Malpass highlighted that societies prosper when women participate as policymakers, entrepreneurs, workers and community leaders. Two dynamic women entrepreneurs embodied this and shared their inspiring stories.
Yetunde, together with Dr. Saira Siddique, Founder of medIQ Smart Healthcare in Pakistan, told their stories of overcoming adversity as they founded and grew their businesses leveraging financing and mentoring from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). Since 2018, We-Fi has worked with hundreds of partners in over 60 countries to support women entrepreneurs by catalyzing billions in funding to provide finance and training, while addressing systemic data and policy gaps.
Policies that advance gender equality can help achieve development goals
Indeed, feminist policies and policies that advance gender equality have intrinsic value and can accelerate progress towards other development goals, including addressing food insecurity, climate change, and conflict and fragility. A ministerial panel chaired by World Bank Managing Director Mari Pangestu demonstrated how policymakers can create an enabling environment for gender equality.
H.E. Ernesto Max Elias Tonela, Minister of Economy and Finance of Mozambique shared how Mozambique is investing in empowerment throughout women’s lives by strengthening foundational learning for both boys and girls, increasing the availability of distance learning, targeting out-of-school girls and girls at risk of dropping out and expanding access to sexual and reproductive health education.
H.E. Svenja Schulze, Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, shared that Germany is currently launching its Feminist Development Policy, signaling an ambitious level of commitment to the idea of equality and the empowerment of all people.