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Enhancing support of African development - includes a definition of the African Initiative - Special Initiative on Africa - Cover story.
UN Chronicle. 1996 Summer; 33(2): p..The Special Initiative on Africa, launched globally on 15 March by the Secretary-General along with the executive heads of all UN agencies and organizations represented in the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), aims to give practical expression to the policy commitments made in the past, such as the UN New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s. Unprecedented in scope, the Initiative reflects the priority accorded to Africa's development by the international community, the mandates emanating from the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and major UN conferences, as well as the undertakings made individually and collectively by African Governments to accelerate the development of their countries. (excerpt)
In: The informal sector and microfinance institutions in West Africa, edited by Leila Webster and Peter Fidler. Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1996. 71-7.This book chapter summarizes findings about informal sectors in West Africa and from case studies of microfinancing in West Africa and discusses the implications of the dynamics of informal sector for the World Bank. Provided are an analysis of the characteristics and constraints of the informal sectors in 12 West African countries and an evaluation of nine microfinance institutions that represent the most effective ones in the region. 1) Informal sectors in West Africa are very large and are continuing to grow rapidly. 2) Much informal activity is associated with rural agriculture, but urban informal sector growth recently surpassed rural informal sector growth. 3) Poor women represent a large proportion of the informal sector. 4) Key constraints are stagnant or saturated markets, lack of access to credit and savings services, weak business skills, inadequate information, and poorly developed infrastructure. 5) Primary lending sources among poor microbusinesspersons include family and friends, money lenders, and local savings and credit groups. No one interacts with banks. 6) Microbusiness assistance programs are distributed unevenly across the region and range in scale and efficiency. The findings from nine case studies indicate that most lending institutions had effective outreach and many savings members. Credit services grew over the decade but are still small enough to serve fewer than 10,000 borrowers. Outreach tends to serve very poor clients and clients living in remote areas. Only one institution was making a profit. About 30-40% of expenses are covered. Lack of capital restricts the amount and number of loans. Most institutions are expected to improve in financial sustainability, but the fact remains that outreach to remote locations is expensive. This research suggests that the World Bank should be active within itself, with microfinance institutions, with client-country governments, and with other donors.
FORUM. 1996 Dec; 12(2):7-8.Community milk distribution posts are places where poor families with children under age 12 years can buy milk at subsidized prices. The centers are run by a social service agency called Liconsa and are located in marginalized neighborhoods around Mexico City. MEXFAM, the International Planned Parenthood Federation affiliate in Mexico, offers health services to women through 25 of these centers. Women who visit milk centers can therefore conveniently have their blood pressure, weight, and height measured; receive vaccines, parasite treatment, diabetes screening, and family planning information; and obtain contraceptive pills, injectables, and condoms while they pick up their milk. Counselors are on site. Referrals for other health services and contraceptive methods are made to the MEXFAM Community Clinic and MEXFAM's Medical Services Center as needed. Each site provides services to approximately 250 women.
WORLD OF WORK. 1996 Sep-Oct; (17):4-7.Despite expanded global female employment (45% of women aged 15-64 years are economically active), women still comprise 70% of the world's 1 billion people living in poverty. Moreover, women's economic activities remain largely confined to low-wage, low-productivity forms of employment. A report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), prepared as a follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and the World Summit for Social Development, identified discrimination in education as a central cause of female poverty and underemployment. Each additional year of schooling is estimated to increase a woman's earnings by 15%, compared to 11% for a man. At the workplace, women face inequalities in terms of hiring and promotion standards, access to training and retraining, access to credit, equal pay for equal work, and participation in economic decision making. In addition, even women in higher-level jobs in developing countries spend 31-42 hours per week in unpaid domestic activities. The ILO has concluded that increasing employment opportunities for women is not a sufficient goal. Required are actions to improve the terms and conditions of such employment, including equal pay for work of equal value, improved occupational safety and health, enhanced security in informal or atypical forms of work, guarantees of freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, and appropriate maternity protection and child care provisions. Finally, taxation and social welfare policies must be rewritten to accommodate the reality that women are no longer the dependent or secondary earner in families.