Job creation top priority for post-2015 agenda

14 Feb 2013

Two women sitting outside a hut.

Job creation heading the list of priorities

For the first time, the importance of job creation in the fight against poverty is heading the list of international development priorities and grabbing the attention of decision makers.

The World Bank, the UN’s High-level Panel on post-2015 Millennium Development Goals and most recently Justine Greening, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, have all highlighted the critical role of job creation.

Members of the village walking along a pathway between their houses

Village Kanchipuram, India

Hand in Hand has direct experience of jobs as an engine for poverty reduction, having generated over 1.3 million jobs in just eight years – predominantly among women in India and increasingly in sub-Saharan Africa. We have seen firsthand that women running gainful small businesses can transform their families’ lives and their communities by accessing better healthcare, improved housing and sending their children to school and not to work.

In her speech on February 8th, Justine Greening listed job creation as one of the top three future priorities for the Department for International Development (DFID), alongside humanitarian assistance and support to women and girls. While DFID is already working with small and medium sized enterprises – which Greening called “the backbone of the private sector”– to unblock £5 billion in commercial lending and create more than one million jobs, the department will shortly set out a fresh strategy to drive “the economic growth that leads to job creation”.

The Secretary of State is not alone in recognizing the importance of job creation. The third meeting of the UN High-Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda in Liberia on February 1st calls for the post-millennium development agenda to encompass job creation. The World Bank’s 2013 World Development Report, simply titled “Jobs”, also draws attention to the wider development impact of employment, particularly for women, and in small enterprises. The “positive spillover effect” for society of jobs for women mentioned in the report is well known. Perhaps more remarkably, the report states that small enterprises have been found to generate the highest number of jobs in developing economies: “If only a fraction of the self-employed succeeded in building a viable business, the …impact on living standards and productivity would be substantial”.

Sven Sandström, CEO of Hand in Hand International, says “The international recognition now being given to job creation and entrepreneurship is long overdue. Poor people have few or no financial assets but they want to work to improve their own and their families’ lives. Hand in Hand unlocks that potential by training the poorest – and in particular women – to manage their money, start and run a business, access credit where needed and market their products. Working in partnership, our goal is to create 10 million jobs for the poorest by 2020.”