Gender equality is necessary to promote the human development of society and not just of women. It is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and it represents good economics as it taps into the productive force of half the region’s population.

Finding solutions for the complex issues of gender in South Asia presents both a challenge and an opportunity for action.

Since June 2011, the South Asia Gender (SAGE) initiative financed by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the World Bank has attempted to address some of the key issues across the region. By the end of 2015, the SAGE window funds have been depleted. The gender equality issues, however, continue being addressed by activities in other windows.

SAGE activities addressed gender inequality in South Asia, which is among the worst observed in the world. The SAGE Initiative represented a concerted effort to support gender work in the region aimed at: deepening the understanding of gen­der dynamics; strengthening the analysis of formal, informal and market institutions in determining gender outcomes; strengthening the focus on gender in service delivery; and supporting strategic investments that address the most intrac­table gender issues.

SAGE activities were delivered in three pillars focusing on:

  1. Labor force participation
  2. Social inclusion and gen­der relations and
  3. Gender and human development.

Projects

Grant Title Country Project Status Objective
Afghanistan - Young Women for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Employment Afghanistan Closed
Young Women for of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Employment in Afghanistan Afghanistan Approved progress To go beyond traditional approaches to gender and youth inclusion in economic activities and labor markets, by exploring opportunities emerging from the global virtual economy and the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
Afghanistan - Development of a Gender and Justice Survey Toolkit Afghanistan Closed To enhance strategic analytical work on gender in the justice sector by developing and disseminating a quantitative survey toolkit. The toolkit is intended to support practitioners in governments, the World Bank, and other development agencies in the social and justice sectors in undertaking quantitative surveys among households and justice service providers.
Building Capacity for Gender Mainstreaming - Ministry of Housing and Public Works (Bangladesh) Bangladesh Closed completed To build capacity and gender-sensitizing activities in the Ministry of Housing and Public Works in Bangladesh.
Impact Evaluation Northern Areas Reduction-of-Poverty Initiative (NARI) project Bangladesh Closed completed To determine whether the Northern Areas Reduction-of-Poverty Initiative (NARI) project has had a significant impact on the earnings and socio-economic welfare of female beneficiaries in Bangladesh. The NARI project facilitates access to employment opportunities in the garment sector for poor and vulnerable women from lagging areas of Bangladesh by providing information, technical and life-skills training, transitional housing, and other support in order to adjust to urban life and formal sector employment.
Bangladesh - Impact Evaluation of Northern Area Reduction of Poverty Initiative (NARI) Bangladesh Closed This activity aimed at determining whether the Northern Area Reduction of Poverty Initiative (NARI) has had a significant impact on the earnings and socio-economic welfare of female beneficiaries in Bangladesh. The NARI project facilitates access to employment opportunities in the garment sector for poor and vulnerable women from lagging areas of Bangladesh by providing information, technical and life skills training, transitional housing. It supports women’s adjustment to urban life and formal sector employment. NARI is a pilot project that is planned to be scaled up to other poor areas in Bangladesh based on the results of the impact evaluation that takes into account: mid-term earnings 18 months after the completion of the training program; probability of employment; probability of continuation of employment for a certain amount of time (survival rate) in the garment industry; health and behavior outcomes (life expectancy, pregnancy, marital status, among other dimensions); living standards of dependents. Since this is the first stand-alone gender project in the South Asia Region, the impact evaluation will also inform the design of other projects in the region.
Bangladesh - Building Capacity for Gender Mainstreaming - Ministry of Housing and Public Works Bangladesh Closed
Bangladesh – Women-Only Bus Service in Dhaka City Bangladesh Closed To address the increasing set of issues that female commuters face in Bangladesh, taking examples of other cities around the world that have introduced women-only services.

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