Women and girls in Guinea face significant barriers to accessing the same opportunities as men, according to a new World Bank report, Unlocking Women’s and Girls’ Potential: The Status of Women and Girls Relative to Men and Boys in Guinea”. The report focuses on early family formation, a common phenomenon in the country with important implications for well-being and empowerment of girls and women.
Guinea, ranked 182 out of 191 in the United Nations Development Program’s Gender Inequality Index in 2021, is one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of gender. The economic consequences of this inequality are all the more alarming given that almost half of the rural population remains below the poverty line, nearly 2 in 5 children work, approximately 1 in 3 children under the age of five is stunted, and 1 in 10 dies before the age of nine.
“Efforts toward promoting women’s rights and well-being can benefit Guinean society as a whole,” says Miriam Muller, Senior Social Scientist at the World Bank.
Despite some progress in the past decades, women and girls continue to have poor education and health outcomes. Overall rates of school completion remain concerningly low, especially among rural girls and women. Girls are significantly more likely than boys to be out of secondary school. In terms of health, Guinea has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality, likely linked to the high incidence of female genital mutilation.
The lack of investment in human capital increases the risks of poverty among women. Overall female labor force participation in Guinea remains below the Sub-Saharan African average, with women’s employment characterized as informal and vulnerable. Women also appear to be disadvantaged in terms of access to and ownership of productive assets and finance.
Additionally, as a result of socio-cultural norms, beliefs, and perceptions about gender roles, Guinea has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. This practice bears important implications for how women participate in economic activities and exercise their agency. Early marriage also increases women’s risks of encountering domestic violence, the incidence of which is particularly high in Guinea.
“The report provides strategic directions for policy across all the highlighted dimensions that could apply to the Guinean context,” says Nestor Coffi, Country Manager of the World Bank in Guinea. “Efforts in enabling women to fulfill their potential must be focused on the following objectives: educate, enhance access to health care, employ, and increase economic empowerment.”
In light of the multidimensional aspects of gender equality, it is crucial to initiate comprehensive and multisector policies to address existing gender gaps and to use evidence and data to inform those policies.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The World Bank Group.