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COPENHAGEN Thomson Reuters Foundation - Countries which fail to invest in young women s health will be left behind because the underdeveloped brains of their children will not be equipped to compete in an increasingly complex, digital world, the head of the World Bank said on Wednesday.

He said when finance ministers approach the World Bank for loans they say they are not going to use the money for women and children, but for hard infrastructure like roads and energy.

Kim said brain scans showed that young children who don t have sufficient nutrition or stimulation in their early years have fewer neural connections which impacts their cognitive potential.

For every country in the world looking at a future that s going to ... require huge amounts of digital competence we are now saying to these governments how are you going to walk into the future with 45 percent stunting.

He said investing in women s health, education and economic empowerment was crucial for ending global poverty and the World Bank would be making special investments to address the high numbers of girls dropping out in secondary school.

Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.

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