2017 International Women’s Day (IWD) Celebration

Gender Action and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) celebrated 2017 International Women’s Day (IWD) by inviting two Haitian women’s rights defenders to make presentations in Washington DC. Our HAWG sisters highlighted pervasive, invisible gender-based violence and how women who try to participate politically are persecuted in Haiti. Gender Action organized and Human Rights Watch hosted a panel discussion.
Read Elaine Zuckerman’s blog about the event in English, French and Kreyol at HAWG Gender & Human Rights Report.
Sabine Lamour and Nadia Lafleur, Haitian women’s rights activists, center, flanked from left by Michelle Karshan, Jasmine Huggins and Elaine Zuckerman of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, and Regine Duroska, interpreter, in US Representative Frederica Wilson’s (D FL) office.

World Bank Project Evictee Becomes Women’s Rights Activist - Bimbo Oshobe

Gender Action and CEE-Hope Nigeria profile Bank project evictee Bimbo Oshobe, a mother of four whose life was upturned when a Bank-financed project bulldozed her slum several years ago. Residents were evicted without consultation, warning or compensation, and left homeless in crowded, dangerous Lagos. Years later the “urban renewal” project has not delivered its promise to upgrade the slum. Bimbo has slept outdoors and in makeshift shelters since the project flattened her home and soda-drink business, her source of livelihood. Other evictees became utterly destitute: A few died from malnutrition. Some women and girls have been raped and others turned to sex work to survive. Bimbo’s homelessness transformed her into an activist. Read her story here: World Bank Project Evictee Becomes Women’s Rights Activist - Bimbo Oshobe .

The case for a feminist World Bank President

Gender Action advocacy for a first feminist World Bank President is summed up in this blog that Ms. Magazine and WorldBankPresident.org invited. It makes the case for a feminist World Bank President. When current World Bank President Jim Kim’s first five-year term ended in the fall of 2016 the Bank Board named Kim to a second term. Kim ran uncontested. The previous 2011 Bank presidential nomination included three competing candidates: Kim, and one woman and one man from the global south. The last presidential nomination process undermined Bank promises to promote gender equality, democratic governance, meritocracy and transparency. All 12 Bank presidents to date have been American males.

Calls for World Bank President Jim Kim to Step Down

Bank staff, civil society, media and think tanks alike called for Jim Kim to step down.

Examples included: Civil Society: Sixty prominent environmental and gender group leaders and academics signed this call: “The World & The World Bank Need New Leadership – President Jim Yong Kim Must Step Down”
The World Bank Staff Association as reported in the Financial Times: “The World Bank's powerful staff association has called for an international search for a replacement to President Jim Yong Kim, pointing to a crisis of leadership….and are pleading for a change following decades of backroom deals which, twelve times in a row, selected an American male.”

Where is Gender in the New World Bank Safeguards?

The World Bank’s Board approved a new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) in August 2016 following a four-year global civil society ESF campaign demanding adherence to international human rights treaties including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The new ESF, which will replace the Bank’s decades-old environmental and social safeguard policies in January 2018, rarely mentions gender and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) issues. Instead women and SOGI are merely listed in a string of vulnerable groups in a separate presidential directive. Gender, women, men, girls, boys and SOGI are almost invisible in the ESF.
Gender Action led a campaign to include gender among the new ESF standards but the Bank failed to listen. Read one example of our campaign media strategy in this Guardian story: "Why don't World Bank projects safeguard women's rights?"
The new ESF also weakens previous Bank environmental and social accountability. Civil society groups, including Gender Action, who campaigned to prevent dilution of the Bank’s already inadequate current safeguards issued this press release on the eve of the ESF approval: “Proposed World Bank standards represent dangerous set-back to key environmental and social protections”.

Gender Action relentlessly prods the World Bank to improve its track record on Gender-Based Violence and moves the needle!

Gender Action research exposed that the Bank financed only three projects aimed at combatting GBV during 1947-2011. In response to Gender Action advocacy, the Bank is financing over a dozen projects aimed at combatting GBV; promoted ending GBV in its 2015 gender strategy; and established a Task Force to fight GBV in 2016. The Task Force was launched after Gender Action and partners' field-based reports demonstrated that workers constructing Bank infrastructure investments such as oil and gas pipelines, highways and urban development projects sexually harass and violate females sometimes impregnating young girls.

Haiti: Gender Issues Facing Women and Girls: Haiti Submission to CEDAW - 2016

Gender Action, together with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, and Li, Li, Li! Read submitted a 2016 report, Gender Issues Facing Women and Girls, that analyzes the extent to which women’s rights in Haiti meets country obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The report addresses extremely low representation of women in political life, including in the 2015 elections; sexual harassment toward and derogatory treatment of women at work; the disproportionate impact of cholera on women; and problems facing rural women. The report recommends how to end these discriminatory practices.

Haiti: Violence against Women, Trafficking, Prostitution, and Exploitation by UN Peacekeepers: Haiti Submission to CEDAW - 2016

Gender Action, together with partners BAI, FAVILEK, FEMCADH, IJDH, KOFAVIV, KONAMAVID, , Li, Li, Li! Read, MOFAS, RFFA (acronyms are spelled out in the report), submitted a 2016 report, Violence against Women, Trafficking, Prostitution, and Exploitation by UN Peacekeepers, that analyzes the extent to which women’s rights in Haiti meets country obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Issues addressed include societal discrimination and widespread sexual violence against women, impunity for perpetrators of gender based violence and sex trafficking, and prostitution and sexual abuse by peacekeepers. The report recommends how to end these harmful practices.

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)”. The IMF’s 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 the 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: a long way to go!

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. Click on an underlined word to be directed to the specific tool you need!

Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers 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.


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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

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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

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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

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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

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