WOMEN and men should be given more opportunities and equal participation to end extreme poverty in ensuring that prosperity is shared by all, says World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim.
In its report titled World Development Report, it states and explores the power of social norms in dictating how men and women can and cannot behave — deterring women from owning property or working even where laws permit, for example, because those who do become outcasts.
Mr Kim said in 128 countries, laws treat men and women differently — making it impossible, for example, for a woman to independently obtain an ID card, own or use property, access credit, or get a job.
He said despite recent advances in important aspects of the lives of girls and women, pervasive challenges remain, frequently as a result of widespread deprivations and constraints these often violate women's most basic rights and are magnified and multiplied by poverty and lack of education.
"If the world is going to end extreme poverty and ensure that prosperity is shared by all, we have to have the full and equal participation of women and men, girls and boys, around the world."
World Bank Group director for Gender and Development Jeni Klugman said in all regions, better educated women tend to marry later and have fewer children. And this is a key reason children of better educated women are less likely to be stunted.
She said educated mothers had greater autonomy in making decisions and more power to act for their children's benefit.