Archived Webinar

Gender Learning 2021 - Operational Innovations to Address Gender Gaps in Human Capital in the COVID-19 Pandemic

"Innovative human capital-focused operations that address the weaknesses and inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis."

This plenary showcases innovative human capital-focused operations that address the weaknesses and inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, notably the disproportionate impact of disruptions in economic opportunities and core services on women and girls, how the pandemic has provided an opening to address longstanding gaps, and how dynamic WBG project teams are innovating under these especially challenging and urgent circumstances.

Three operations will be presented from three different regions in Education, HNP, and SPJ. The operations to be discussed include:

  • Zambia: The Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) project, which is expanding its Social Cash Transfer program to beneficiaries throughout the pandemic so that girls can remain in secondary school and women can continue to access GEWEL’s comprehensive package of support to women’s livelihoods; and the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Project, which addresses Sexual and Gender-based Violence in agile, multifaceted approaches that will be integrated into education and social protection services.
  • Egypt Covid-19 Emergency Response Project, which will provide a ‘Corona incentive pay’ to public health sector providers, most of whom are female; as well as communications campaigns with parenting advice in recognition of the increased care burden for women especially, coupled with community mobilization through engaging women’s groups.
  • Pakistan Actions to Strengthen Performance for Inclusive and Responsive Education (ASPIRE) Program, which uses a range of approaches (including ICT, television, and radio, community-based, and information campaigns about gender balance in household responsibilities) so that girls, as well as boys, can continue their schooling through distance learning during the pandemic.  

The session includes opening remarks by Mamta Murthi and closing remarks by Hafez Ghanem, presentations on each of the 3 cases by the project TTLs, and introductory comments before each presentation by Najy Benhassine (Country Director for Pakistan) and Marina Wes (Country Director for Djibouti, Egypt, and Yemen).

About the Presenters

Caren Grown

Senior Director, Gender, World Bank Group

Caren Grown joined the World Bank Group in 2014 as the Global Director, Gender, where she leads collaboration across the IBRD and IFC and with development partners to generate evidence on what boosts gender equality, and to identify emerging challenges and opportunities to close the gaps between men and women. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Dr. Grown was Economist-In-Residence and Co-Director of the Program on Gender Analysis in Economics at American University in Washington, D.C. Over the course of her career, Dr. Grown has held senior positions in several organizations, including as Senior Gender Advisor at USAID where she led the development of the Agency’s Gender Equality policy, and the UNU-WIDER program on aid effectiveness and gender equality. Dr. Grown’ s publications include Taxation and Gender Equity (Routledge 2010), The Feminist Economics of Trade (Routledge 2007), and Taking Action: Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women (Earthscan Press 2005). Her articles have appeared in World Development, Journal of International Development, The Lancet, and Feminist Economics. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Economics from the New School for Social Research and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mamta Murthi

Vice President, HD Practice Group, World Bank

As a Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank, Mamta Muthi oversees the Global Practices for Education; Health, Nutrition, and Population; Gender; Social Protection, and Jobs – as well as the Human Capital Project. Mamta has held many leadership positions at the World Bank, including as the Director of Operations Policy (2019), Director of Strategy and Operations in Infrastructure (2018), Director of Strategy and Operations in the Africa Region (2015-2018), and Regional Country Director for the EU, based in Brussels (2012-15). An economist by training, she has had technical roles in Social Protection and Labor (1996-2004) and Education (2006-10). She was the Deputy Director of the World Development Report on Development and the Next Generation in 2006. During 1998-2000, Mamta was MacArthur Fellow for Poverty and Inequality at King’s College, Cambridge. Mamta joined the World Bank as a Young Professional in 1995. She has a Bachelors’ Degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, the University of Delhi, and a D.Phil in Economics from the University of Oxford. Mamta has written extensively on poverty, demography, education, pensions, and skills and is well-known for her econometric studies on fertility in India.

Hafez Ghanem

Vice President, World Bank

Hafez Ghanem, an Egyptian and French national, is the Vice President of the World Bank for Eastern and Southern Africa since July 1, 2020. A development expert with over 30 years of experience, Dr. Ghanem leads an active portfolio consisting of over 300 projects totaling more than $47 billion. Under his leadership, the World Bank supports inclusive growth and poverty reduction by financing projects that boost human capital, support private sector development and digital transformation, raise agricultural productivity and promote food security, improve access to infrastructure, build resilience to climate change, and promote regional integration. Intensifying assistance for fragile and conflict-affected states and promoting gender equality are core to his vision for the Africa Region. Prior to his appointment as Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr. Ghanem served as Vice President of the World Bank for the Africa Region (2018-2020) and the Middle East and North Africa (2015 to 2018) region. Leading up to this, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Global Economy and Development program leading the Arab economies project, focused on the impact of political transition on Arab economic development. Between 2007 and 2012, he served as the Assistant Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He was responsible for the Economic and Social Development Department and the FAO’s analytical work on agricultural economics and food security, trade and markets, gender and equity, and statistics. In this role, he and his counterpart at the OECD coordinated the preparation of the International Organizations’ recommendations to the 2011 G20 meeting on how to respond to the global food crisis. He also led the reforms of the Committee on World Food Security to make it more inclusive and responsive to country needs. Dr. Ghanem began his career at the World Bank in 1983 as a Young Professional. Over the span of 24 years (1983-2007), he worked on Bank operations and initiatives in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe, and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Southeast Asia regions. His previous positions at the World Bank include: Country Director for Nigeria where he led a multinational team of more than 100 professionals, managing the Bank’s loan portfolio of some $1.5 billion; Country Director for Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, and Seychelles; and Sector Leader for Public Economics and Trade Policy in the Europe and Central Asia Region. He has many publications in professional journals and was a member of the core team that produced the World Bank’s 1995 World Development Report. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics from the American University in Cairo and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Davis. He is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.

Najy Benhassine

Country Director, World Bank Group, Pakistan

Najy Benhassine is Country Director for Pakistan for the South Asia region at the World Bank Group. Prior to this, he was the Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa region, following his time as the Director for the Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation (FCI) Global Practice, where he was responsible for the MENA regional team of the FCI practice as well as its global teams in charge of the Firms, Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the Markets & Technology agendas. Before his tenure as FCI GP Director, Mr. Benhassine worked as the Practice Manager in the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group. Previously, Mr. Benhassine was based in Rabat, Morocco between 2007 and 2011 and was in charge of the private sector development portfolio of the Maghreb for the World Bank. He also worked on economic growth, education, social protection, the informal sector, and land reform. An Algerian national, he joined the World Bank Group in Washington D.C. in 2001, after working with McKinsey and Co and teaching at the Swiss Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Mr. Benhassine is the co-author of the 2009 World Bank flagship publication on the private sector in the MENA region, "From privilege to Competition: unlocking private-led growth in Middle-East and North Africa”. He is a graduate of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the Paris Graduate School of Management, the Paris School of Economics and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT.

Juan D. Baron

Senior Economist, World Bank

Juan D. Baron is Senior Economist at the Bank and is one of the Task Team Leaders for the Bank-funded, Government implemented, Actions to Strengthen Performance for Inclusive and Responsive Education (ASPIRE) Program in Pakistan. He utilizes quantitative and qualitative research methods, including impact evaluations, to a range of topics on labor, gender, and education economics, amongst others to complement investment operations. Prior to his current role in Pakistan, Juan had prepared Bank Projects in 3 regions and worked for the Central Bank of Colombia. Juan holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Australian National University.

Emma Wadie Hobson

Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank

Emma Wadie Hobson is a Senior Social Protection Specialist at the Bank and is the Task Team Leader for the Bank-funded, Government implemented, Girls Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) project in Zambia. Her background has focused on safety nets, productive inclusion, and jobs - both within the Bank as well as having previously worked at USAID and in NGOs.

John Bosco Makunda

Senior Operations Officer, Health Nutrition and Population (HNP), World Bank

John Bosco Makumba is a Senior Operations Officer under the Health Nutrition and Population (HNP) GP based in Zambia and is the Co-Task Team Leader for the Zambia COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project, which recently became effective. His work before and in the Bank focuses on Health Systems Improvement with a special interest in Health Supply Chain Management.

Amr El Shalakani

Senior Health Specialist, The World Bank

Amr El Shalakani has joined the World Bank as a Health Specialist in 2013. Based in Cairo, he is currently working on Egypt and Yemen’s portfolios. Before that, he served as the Manager of the Technical office of the Minister of Health and Population, Egypt after a career at the different sectors of the Egyptian ministry of health and the Health Insurance Organization. Amr gained his Medical degree from Cairo University and went on to family practice for 3 years. He later specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology for 9 years. He passed his Board Certification exams then went on to complete his MBA at ESLSCA business School, Paris, France and is currently enrolled for a Doctorate degree in Healthcare Financing from the same school. He also has a degree in Healthcare Quality Management and a Health Economics diploma. His areas of interest include health delivery systems, healthcare financing & insurance and public health modalities. His country experience encompasses several countries as Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Turkey, Lebanon, Qatar and Sudan.

Marina Wes

Country Director, Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti, World Bank

Marina Wes was appointed Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti effective January 1, 2019. Prior to this assignment, she was the Country Director for West Bank and Gaza, while she has also served at the World Bank as the Country Manager for Poland and the Lead Economist for Turkey. Ms. Wes joined the World Bank in 2000 as an Economist in Europe and Central Asia, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Unit. She has since worked across a range of issues in important emerging markets, including India, Pakistan, Poland, and Turkey. Before joining the World Bank, Ms. Wes worked as a principal economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and at the University of Amsterdam as Assistant Professor in International Finance. Ms. Wes holds a doctorate degree in Economics from the London School of Economics. In addition to her work on macroeconomic and growth issues, she has also published a number of articles on Public Finances, Trade, and Foreign Direct Investment. Ms. Wes, a Dutch national, is married and has two children.

Sahr Kpundeh

Country Manager, World Bank, Zambia

Sahr Kpundeh is currently the Country Manager of the Zambia office of the World Bank based in Lusaka. He has held various positions in the Bank including Country Manager of South Sudan based in Juba; Lead Regional Strategy Specialist in the Governance Global Practice; Regional Advisor for Governance and Anti-Corruption (GAC) in the Africa Region’s Core Operational Services Unit. He has authored over 20 articles on governance and anti-corruption as well as edited several books. Some of his published books and Monographs include the following: Building State Capacity in Africa: New Approaches, Emerging Lessons (World Bank, 2004); Politics and Corruption in Africa: A Case Study of Sierra Leone (University Press of America, 1995); USAID Handbook for Fighting Corruption (USAID Technical Publication Series, 1998); Corruption and Integrity Improvement Initiatives in Developing Countries (UNDP/OECD, 1998); Curbing Corruption: Toward a Model for Building National Integrity (1999, The World Bank). Prior to joining the Bank, Dr. Kpundeh was Senior Research Associate at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., where he led work on Democratization, including editing a book entitled; Democratization in Africa: African Views, African Voices (National Academy Press, 1992). Dr. Kpundeh received his Ph.D. and Master’s degrees from Howard University in Washington, D.C., with a concentration in African Political Systems, Political Economy, and International Relations. He is a US Citizen and a national of Sierra Leone.

Questions Submitted


- Jan 18, 2023
interesting , thank you

jose luis

- Sep 12, 2022
muy bueno


- Mar 29, 2022


- Jan 18, 2022
Very Nice

Jes�s Manuel

- Aug 17, 2021
very interactive


- May 9, 2021


- May 9, 2021

Mohammad Nadir

- Apr 23, 2021

Engr. Babar

- Apr 22, 2021


- Apr 9, 2021
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