Leveraging technology, including by shifting more cash transactions to digital channels, can give women greater control over their own resources. Such innovations can deliver other benefits, too: a 2016 study in Kenya found that providing women with access to mobile money services increased household savings by more than one-fifth and helped to reduce extreme poverty among women-headed households by 22%.

The private sector has been leading the way in mainstreaming digital financial services. In Egypt, financial services provider Fawry, an IFC client, enables more than 2.5 million transactions per day and recently launched the country’s first female e-payment agent network, with the aim of increasing women’s access to e-payments.

But, in addition to discriminatory laws and lack of access to capital and assets, girls and women in many parts of the world also are shackled by norms that suggest a girl is of less value than a boy. Gender-based violence is one of the most pernicious manifestations of this deep-seated bias. Today, shockingly, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence.

The good news is that countries are making progress in preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Work funded by the World Bank and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative in the Solomon Islands, for instance, shows that such violence is no longer accepted once communities, supported by faith leaders and government service providers, speak out against it. And as best practices emerge regarding how to help survivors of violence, practitioners must join forces to share the lessons learned. Providing women’s networks with social support, violence risk training and confidence-building programs also can help.

This International Women’s Day, I would like to reemphasize that the World Bank Group stands ready to join forces with all stakeholders working to empower women and unleash their economic potential.

David Malpass is president of the World Bank Group.

@Project Syndicate

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