WASHINGTON - The World Bank Board of Directors today approved $365 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing to increase girls’ and women’s access to learning, economic opportunities, and utilization of health services, and to strengthen the institutional capacity for gender equality in Western and Central Africa.
The Sub-Saharan Africa Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Plus project (SWEDD+) has the potential to directly benefit over 2 million vulnerable girls aged between 10 to 19 years old who are at risk of child marriage, early pregnancy, gender-based violence, and leaving school --as well as their communities-- in Burkina Faso, Chad, Senegal, The Gambia, and Togo. Other countries in the region may join and others may benefit with activities carried out at regional level.
Thus, a significantly higher number of people will indirectly benefit from multiple gender transformative interventions that will contribute to ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity by promoting girls’ and women’s social and economic autonomy, improving the availability of sexual and reproductive health services, and fostering national and regional capacity for policy making on gender equality.
“Empowering adolescent girls and young women is essential to accelerate Africa’s demographic transition, improve human development outcomes, and build human capital and inclusive economic growth,” said Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice-President for Western and Central Africa. “By investing in women and girls, countries will build resilient communities that can bounce back from crises and adapt to rising threats, such as climate change and fragility”.
SWEDD+ will sustain the momentum developed through the original SWEDD project – which covers nine countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinee, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger — to expand and deepen the impact on adolescent girls and women. By partnering with two regional institutions – the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) —, SWEDD+ will take actions to build regional knowledge, capacity, and commitment and adopt harmonized policies to enhance women’s empowerment across the countries.
“It is important to build regional ownership and capacity to allow these institutions to carry forth the women’s empowerment agenda and increase the attention placed on these issues across the continent”, said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Regional Integration Director for Africa and the Middle East.
The newly approved SWEDD+ brings the total World Bank investments toward women’s empowerment in Africa to $1.04 billion. Its objectives are in alignment with the mission and vision of both ECCAS and ECOWAS. It also contributes to the attainment of the African Union Agenda 2063 goals and to the World Bank’s poverty reduction efforts.