Washington: Gender equality matters in its own right, and is also smart economics, as countries that create better opportunities and conditions for women and girls can raise productivity and improve outcomes for children, the World Bank has said.

Better gender equality can make institutions more representative and advance development prospects for all, the Washington-based World Bank said in its flagship report entitled 'World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development' that was released on Sunday prior to its upcoming annual meetings.

“We need to achieve gender equality,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick, adding that over the past five years, the Bank has provided USD 65 billion to support girls' education, women's health, as well as women's access to credit, land, agricultural services, jobs and infrastructure, reported a newspaper.

Going forward, the Bank will mainstream its gender work and find other ways to move the agenda forward to capture the full potential of half the world's population, noted Zoellick.

The World Bank and its sister agency the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are scheduled to kick off their annual meetings later this month in Washington.