When the term "microenterprise" first started showing up in IDB documents over 10 years ago, the staff translators puzzled over what the difference could possibly be with a "small enterprise" (petite entreprise/pequena empresa/pequeña empresa). How much smaller than "small" could a microenterprise be?
The Chief of the Microenterprise Development Unit at the IDB explained that generally speaking, while a small business typically has fewer than 20-50 employees depending on the country, a microenterprise has fewer than 10, usually unsalaried family members, and often consists of just one person.
The Internet can often provide helpful information to understand the meaning of new terminology, find foreign-language equivalents and verify usage, provided reliable sites are selected.
Another basic difference between the two types of enterprises is that small businesses are usually incorporated, that is, officially registered as such. Microenterprises, on the other hand, are a huge part of the "informal" economy, that mass of unregistered, unlicensed, unreported trade thriving on city streets throughout the developing world.
Around the globe, microenterprise development has proven an effective means of improving employment and increasing income for the poor, especially for women. Often cited for its success is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which noticed that women tended to use their tiny profits to feed and educate their children. "Microfinance is about much more than access to credit," says Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM). "It is about women gaining control over their lives."
This brings us to the term "gender," which most English speakers understand as synonymous with "sex." In the social sciences, however, it has a different connotation: experts in the Women in Development Unit of the IDB explained that where "sex" means the way we are born (male or female), "gender" means how we are raised. For example, in some countries, women have higher illiteracy rates than men because girls are expected to stay home to care for younger siblings. This is an example of a "gender issue."
Gender issues usually refer to women, as in the case of gender bias or gender disparities, but they can also sometimes refer to men. In El Salvador, for instance, the men who fought in the devastating civil war that the country endured for over 10 years face particular health and employment problems that women do not.
Use of the Spanish term género for this socioeconomic acceptation of "gender" generated intense controversy among Spanish linguists, highlighting the conflicting perspectives of experts and translators in cases of new usage of an already existing term. The controversy culminated when Spanish terminologists at the United Nations produced a glossary for the 1996 U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing. They struggled to provide various renderings of ¨gender¨ depending on the context, such as por sexo, de la mujer, etc., scrupulously avoiding género.
But when the Spanish-speaking delegates to the conference saw the glossary, they demanded that the term género be added, citing its usage in original Spanish source texts in the social sciences. A revised version of the glossary had to be published with género included in all the entries for "gender."
In practical terms, though, when the meaning of "gender" overlaps with that of "sex," sexo can still be used, as in desglose por sexo for "gender breakdown." If it is clear that the text only refers to women, then de la mujer will sometimes work, as in promoción de la mujer for "gender development." An interesting rendition of the term "gender bias" into Spanish is sexismo. In other instances, though, género is used, as in análisis de género for "gender analysis."
In French, the term genre is still only used in grammar. In the development context, there are various renditions of "gender": for "gender issues," la problématique hommes-femmes; for "gender disparities," discriminations liées au sexe or sexospécifiques; "gender analysis," analyse des questions de parité.
Likewise, in Portuguese, gênero is only used in the grammatical sense. So in cases where the meaning of "gender" overlaps with that of "sex," sexo is used, as in composição por sexo for "gender breakdown"; other examples are desigualdades entre os sexos for "gender disparities"; and análise em função do sexo for "gender analysis." If it is clear from the context that "gender" only refers to women, then da mulher will sometimes work, as in promoção da mulher for "gender development."
A key concept in improving government is "governance." The World Bank defines the term as "the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country's economic and social resources for development." IDB experts in modernization of the State point out that governance is important because worldwide economic development has been found to be linked to the quality of government. Weak judicial institutions, outdated legal frameworks, corruption and inefficiency in the public administration have meant poor governance in many developing countries.
Good governance, on the other hand, requires robust, effective legal systems, honest management of public funds and institutions, and social equity; it begins with strong institutions. The term "governability" is now being used as a synonym for good governance; in this context, it therefore means not whether a country can be governed, but how well it is governed.
The Spanish translation of "governance" varies: suggestions found in glossaries and other documents published by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) include gestión pública, gestión del sector público, buen gobierno, ejercicio del poder, and función de gobierno. It is interesting to note, however, that the original Spanish agreement reached at the 1996 Summit of the Americas featured gobernabilidad as the central issue; in it, the 23 heads of State and government pledged to strengthen political institutions, reform public administration and decentralize the State. In other words, they were referring to "good governance" or "governability."
IMF and World Bank documents suggest the following French equivalents for "governance": (bonne) gestion des affaires publiques; efficacité de l'administration; qualité de l'administration; mode de gouvernement. The term gouvernance is also increasingly being used.
Suggestions for rendering "governance" into Portuguese are: gestão pública and administração pública. For "good governance" or "governability," the Portuguese equivalent governabilidade is also being used in this sense.