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A 'save the girl child' poster at a Delhi hospital.
Creating better opportunities for women and girls makes good economic sense and increases development prospects, according to the World Bank's flagship report published on Monday.

The world development report (WDR) 2012, which focuses on gender equality, argues that investing in women is an economically sound strategy. If women and girls were given access to all tiers of education, land rights, more opportunities to enter the job market, and more control over their lives - particularly in respect of family planning - overall development prospects would improve for all.

However, while the report makes an economic case for gender equality, it also acknowledges that it will take more than economic growth to improve women's lives. In fact, rapid economic growth has, in some circumstances, exacerbated gender inequalities.

The report argues that "sticky" issues need to be addressed such as health and education, discrimination in the workplace and lack of rights in the home. High maternal and child mortality rates persist in countries that have made huge economic progress, such as India and China, and, while gender gaps in education have narrowed,...