This series highlights the work of the five Gender Innovation Labs (GILs) that constitute the GIL Federation, a World Bank community of practice coordinated by the World Bank Gender Group. The briefs include key findings from impact evaluations of development interventions in nine areas (education, labor markets, entrepreneurship, agriculture, land titling, care, social protection, gender-based violence, and adolescent girls). They provide evidence and lessons on how to close gender gaps and foster women’s economic empowerment in these areas. They also serve as an analytical foundation for the World Bank Gender Strategy 2024-2030.
Significant progress has been made in closing gender gaps in primary and secondary enrollment rates worldwide. However, girls still have lower expected years of schooling than boys in some regions, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and boys have worse educational outcomes than girls in other countries, most notably in Latin America and the Caribbean. Barriers to the continuation of schooling for girls are linked to child marriage, early pregnancies, sexual harassment, and social norms around girls’ education. The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted schooling of both girls and boys. The transition to remote learning hurt girls who often have fewer technical skills and less access to the internet than boys. In other cases, boys had higher economic opportunities than girls and were more likely to drop out from school in response to the economic stress generated by the pandemic. The GIL Federation is generating rigorous evidence around the world to understand what works, and what does not, in narrowing gender gaps in education.
Significant gender gaps in labor force participation persist around the world. When women do work, they are much more likely than men to engage in vulnerable employment with lower earnings and worse working conditions. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered larger losses in employment for women than for men across the globe. Several factors constrain women’s labor force participation and employment outcomes. On the supply side, time and mobility constraints and differences in endowments (skills, assets, and networks) limit women’s labor force participation and wages. On the demand side, discrimination in hiring and retention, lack of jobs with convenient features (childcare, maternity leave, flexible schedules), and skills mismatch are key constraints. All these are combined with contextual factors, including social and cultural norms, that restrict women’s labor force participation. The GIL Federation is generating rigorous evidence around the world to understand what works, and what does not, in supporting women’s labor market participation. This note presents evidence on seven key findings.