The World Bank Declines to Adopt a Mandatory Gender Policy!

Gender Action demonstrates in its Gender Review and Recommendations on the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework: Setting Standards for Sustainable Development (Draft) that from a gender perspective the Draft, updating the Bank’s two decades-old Safeguard Policies, is hugely disappointing in two ways:
First, its proposed Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs) do not include a freestanding mandatory gender standard. Second, the Draft does not even “mainstream” gender issues.

Civil society provided strong gender inputs into the Bank’s Phase 1 safeguard review consultations to ensure that the new safeguards include the Bank’s first freestanding mandatory gender standard. The Draft ignored these civil society inputs. Bank officials promised that the Draft would mainstream gender but it does not.

Gender Action’s Review contains quantitative and qualitative analyses of the ESSs. The qualitative analysis also provides constructive examples of how to mainstream gender into the existing Draft standards.

Recommendations include:

  1. The Bank’s next Draft Environmental and Social Framework must add a robust mandatory freestanding gender standard.
  2. The other ten draft ESSs must systematically integrate gender dimensions. The Review suggests approaches for doing so.
  3. All ESSs including the new gender ESS must apply to all Bank operations without exception -- investments, policy-based loans and Program for Results (P4R).

Gender and SOGI Safeguard Policy !

Since the World Bank urgently needs a first-ever strong, rights-based gender safeguard that protects the rights of women, men, girls, boys and sexual minorities. Members of the Global Gender IFI Watcher Network, which Gender Action co-ordinates, , collaboratively identified essential principles of a strong gender safeguard. We urged the Bank to adopt these principles in a new mandatory gender safeguards policy. In 2013, the World Bank placed the Network's content on its safeguards consultation website.

In 2014 Gender Action expanded its advocacy for a first ever World Bank Gender Safeguard policy into a Gender and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) campaign. With other global partners such as American Jewish World Service, the Bank Information Center, the Council for Global Equality, and the Human Rights Campaign, we co-hosted SOGI activists from Brazil, China, Guyana, Lebanon and other countries in Washington DC to participate in meetings with World Bank President Jim Kim and US Congresspersons, and made presentations at the World Bank 2014 spring meetings Civil Society Forum.

Global Gender IFI Watcher Network members joined the SOGI campaign in crafting a Gender & SOGI Safeguard Model signed by almost 60 groups and submitted to the World Bank. At World Bank Civil Society Forum events we distributed the BIC-Gender Action publication, Gender & SOGI Safeguard: What You Need to Know.

Join Gender Action's Global Gender IFI Watcher Network!

Because of power in numbers in holding IFIs accountable to ensure their investments improve the lives of women, men, girls and boys, we invite civil society groups to join our global network of Gender IFI Watchers. Doing so can also help you hold IFIs in your country accountable for negative gender impacts.

As a Gender IFI Watcher, you will learn how to:
  • Locate vital information about IFI projects in your country;
  • Conduct gender analyses of IFI projects;
  • Collaborate with Gender Action and other network members in your region and around the world;
  • Use Gender Action publications, including the "Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers," to take action when IFI projects cause harm in your community or region;
  • Strengthen your voice for women's rights and gender justice.
Membership is FREE! To register, click here.

If you have already registered, access the tutorials by clicking here, or by selecting the Network from the Publications tab above.

IMF & Gender: a long way to go

In this Bretton Woods Project brief Elaine Zuckerman assesses the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Discussion Note, “Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity” (WWE). This best IMF gender-focused report to date shows that the IMF has a long way to go to realize gender justice. WWE promotes an ‘instrumentalist’ strategy that upholds women’s employment as an instrument to boost economic growth. It needs to complementarily promote women’s and men’s equal rights -- a key women’s movement demand to end patriarchal patterns and feminization of poverty propelled by IMF structural adjustment loans. Maria Karamessinini’s box demonstrates how Greece’s IMF austerity program negatively impacts women. See the IMF & Gender’s recommendations!

Haiti Update

Gender Action’s 2013 publications included, Caracol Industrial Parks: Social and Gender Impacts of Year One of Haiti's Newest IFI-funded Industrial Park and Building Back by Half? Gender Issues in IFI Investments in Post-Earthquake Haiti, which exposed dismal working conditions in the IFI-(and USAID-) financed Caracol Industrial Park (CIP) – the donors’ post-earthquake keystone project.  Gender Action staff were the first to interview CIP employees, who revealed punishment for requesting medical leave and stolen wages. Our exposé triggered a reactive storm in the aid world. Not only has the IDB requested advice from Gender Action on how to improve, but also USAID, the US State Department and Department of Labor have solicited our advice on how to enhance their performance.

New Publications!

The World Bank and women's unpaid care work in select sub-Saharan African countries

With the aim of reducing women's greater unpaid care work than men's and increasing women's paid employment, this paper examines the extent to which World Bank investments address unpaid care work. The paper conducts an in-depth gender analysis of 36 World Bank employment-related projects in Malawi, Mali, Niger, and Rwanda. It concludes that the vast majority (92 per cent) of reviewed projects fail to account for unpaid care work.

Exceptionally, Malawi's Shire River Basin Management Program and Niger's Community Action Program target women's needs as caretakers. But most reviewed projects do not address unpaid care work. Doing so would improve economic and human development and gender justice.

Building Back by Half? Gender Issues in IFI Investments in Post-Earthquake Haiti

This comprehensive advocacy report assesses IFI investments' gender sensitivity following the devastating January 2010 earthquake that caused around US$ 8 billion in damages. The World Bank committed US$ 667 million to Haiti for 21 projects from January 12, 2012 through August 2013. The Inter–American Development Bank (IDB) committed nearly double that amount – over US$ 1 billion – across 151 projects in that period. Gender Action assessed a sample of IFI projects' gender sensitivity. The report finds a spotty record for both institutions in 'mainstreaming' gender into their operations – from project planning, to implementation, to monitoring and evaluation. Since both women and men must play an essential role if reconstruction is to succeed, the report concludes with recommendations for increasing projects gender sensitivity. Gender Action's accompanying Database of IFI Post–Earthquake Haiti Investments contains financial and other data about the over 170 investments approved by the World Bank, IDB and IMF.

Caracol Industrial Park: Social and Gender Impacts of Year One of Haiti's Newest IFI-funded Industrial Park

Officially open for business since October 2012, Caracol Industrial Park (PIC) is expected to become Haiti's largest private employer and foreign investor. US$ 424 million in development aid from donors including the IDB and the US government have been committed to the Park and ten related projects. Women are expected to make up the majority of the anticipated 65,000-strong, mostly apparel assembly workforce.

This Gender Action report presents a snapshot of the Park's impacts on local residents and women in particular in its first year. Gender Action's Claire Lauterbach spent two weeks with research assistants Isabelle Théosmy and Falonne Conte from the State University of Haiti conducting interviews and site visits in and around PIC. While full PIC impacts can only be assessed after several years, PIC has not lived up to many of its preliminary promises. Although PIC has led to several infrastructural changes like electricity and job creation that area residents generally perceived positively, on balance, life has not much changed. The report highlights critical issues including: working conditions and salaries, the continued displacement of land-users from PIC grounds and other effects on area residents, particularly women. The report concludes with recommendations for making PIC truly benefit Haitians.

Updated: Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers

Gender Action provides a vital and user friendly toolkit for civil society groups to incorporate gender perspectives into their work on the IFIs or any other projects. All sections contain electronic hyperlinks to a vast array of available gender resources. Just click on an underlined word to be directed to the specific tool you need!

Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers is available in English.

« Boîte à outils sur le genre pour observateurs des Institutions Financières Internationales » est désormais disponible en français.

Herramientas de Género para Observadores Financieros Internacionales también està disponible en Español.

How Do IFI Gender Policies Stack Up?

Gender Action is often asked: Which International Financial Institution (IFI) has the strongest gender policy and/or strategy?

To answer this question, this paper compares and ranks IFI gender policies and/or strategies based on IFIs' published information.

Recent Press

Click here to read "Building Back, But by Half? Donor Haiti Earthquake Response Still Struggles to Address Women's Needs, by Claire Lauterbach, featured in HuffPost World on November 5, 2013.

Click here to watch Elaine Zuckerman CCTV America interview on October 28, 2013 reflecting on the 2013 World Economic Forum 2013 Global Gender Gap Report.

Click here to read Elaine Zuckerman's comments on the gap between multilaterals' gender inequality rhetoric and action in an Inter Press Service article by Ramy Srour titled, "Mideast and Africa Still Holdouts on Women’s Rights."

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Make a Difference!

Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) - "Haiti, Three Years After the Earthquake: The Time for Accountability" - Gender Panel
(February 4, 2013)

Gender Action at a Glance

Elaine Zuckerman on CCTV
(October 28, 2013)

Elaine Zuckerman on The Real News Network
(April 17, 2012)

Elaine Zuckerman on Al Jazeera's Inside Story
(April 13, 2012)

See more Gender Action videos on the Press/Newsclipping page.

What Experts Are Saying About Gender Action

"Working with Gender Action...has been enriching, inspiring and even exhilarating. Gender Action is one of the few gender-focused organizations still around today whose works and words reverberate in the 'high places' (World Bank, IMF, etc.) telling them about injustices they perpetrate directly or otherwise, in the remotest regions of the world, and get these wrongs righted several times. What other cause can be more impactful than bringing relief to several thousands of people - men, women, children, in far away regions? Gender Action has worked over the years to ensure environmental, human and health rights for some of the most oppressed and discriminated people from Asia to the most remote communities in Africa, ensuing gender equity, speaking up for silenced women. Their gender-specific work has been monumental."  
Betty Abah, Friends of the Earth Nigeria

"Gender Action is a truly valued resource. Its unique in-depth International Financial Institution - IFI gender monitoring and detailed reports, based on economic expertise, illuminate often invisible information on IFI gender impacts on women and empower women's advocacy for gender inclusiveness in policy, investments, and leadership."  
Lois A. Herman, Coordinator WUNRN, Women's UN Report Network

"The striking thing about Gender Action, knowing the history of the organisation and the small number of staff, is its high quality outputs. The Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers, for instance, which was launched in 2008, has become the main resource for civil society on the issue. A quick google search using the words IFIs, gender, and impact will return hundreds, if not more, of entries all citing or carrying the Gender Toolkit. The list of Gender Action reports and publications shows high productivity, as well as high quality ." 
Imad Sabi, Oxfam Novib, The Hague, The Netherlands

"Many women's groups research, work, and advocate for women internationally. They focus on specific issues such as health status, reproductive rights, education, microenterprise, etc. However, Gender Action is the only organization to grasp the big picture behind all of these specific issues: funding from international financial institutions. Nobody else is able to assess the impact of World Bank loans and IMF practices on civil society in less developed nations, particularly on "the woman on the street" in Haiti or Kenya or Guatemala." 
Susan Scanlan, Chair, National Council of Women's Organizations

"Congratulations and thank you for the tremendous progress Gender Action has made in terms of advocacy, research output and communications." 
Cynthia Howson, Instructor, Political Economy of African Development, University of Puget Sound, USA

"Bravo for Gender Action's super work!" 
Marguerite Mendell, Principal, School of Community and Public Affairs, Concordia University, Canada

"Gender Action and Elaine have worked tirelessly over the last few years to shine a spotlight on how IFI projects and policies have gender-differentiated impacts, with some of the worst impacts falling on women."
Liane Schalatek, Deputy Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation USA

"Gender Action is taking on the biggest and most complex players at the international level and getting them to change. If any organization will succeed in this challenge, it is Gender Action because of its strong leadership."
Bill Drayton, Gender Action seed funder, philanthropist and entrepreneur

"In my view, Gender Action has produced the most incisive and practical analysis of Poverty Reduction Strategies and gender to date. Combined with Elaine's extensive experience in lobbying the IFIs, Gender Action's work represents an exciting and substantial addition to advocacy in this area, and a big step forward in lobbying around gender and the IFIs."
Max Lawson, Oxfam Great Britain Policy Advisor

"Gender Action's work is becoming highly recognized and highly valued — both inside and outside the World Bank."
Roxanne Scott, Former Gender Expert, the World Bank

"Gender Action has helped to spearhead and enable the efforts of actors committed to gender justice to change the policies and behaviors of the IFIs."
Robert Fox, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada



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