In recent years the IFIs have financed numerous environment projects and they are reemphasizing infrastructure investments that were their mainstay in their early years. Inevitably infrastructure projects have environmental impacts. IFI projects need to address the infrastructure-environment-women nexus since women are the primary natural resource managers in most countries, and are highly vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution and HIV that often accompanies male construction crews that build IFI-financed mega-projects.

In the updated 2005 version of Reforming the World Bank: Will the Gender Strategy Make a Difference? A Study with China Case Examples, Gender Action further explores this nexus in China where the IFI portfolios are heavily weighted in favor of infrastructure and environment projects like development of waterways, energy sources, transportation and treating wastewater.

Gender Action also monitors the gendered impacts of IFI funded Extractive Industry (EI) projects. At the request of our partner, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Bankwatch, Gender Action completed a gender analysis of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Sakhalin II pipeline project documents and drafted Terms of Reference to guide field work. Our findings were published in late 2006 in a joint report titled, Boom-Time Blues: Big Oil's Gender Impacts in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Sakhalin. Through fieldwork interviews Boom Time Blues found that IFI financed pipeline projects have let to a dramatic rise in prostitution, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and violence against women. Our report recommends ways IFIs should prevent and address the tragic gender impacts of their investments.

Boom Time Blues received significant press and spurred the World Bank to create a webpage dedicated to Extractive Industries and Gender which calls for "the improvement of the impact of extractive industries on women." Since historically Bank web pages do not translate into more gender-sensitive investments, Gender Action continues advocacy holding the Bank to its promises. For example, in 2006 we joined the Publish What You Pay Campaign to bring the gender dimension to an advocacy coalition helping citizens of resource-rich developing countries hold their governments, corporations and the IFIs accountable for the management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries.

The World Bank itself recognizes that its infrastructure programs do not address gender issues. In 2003, a World Bank analysis of the extent to which its Country Assistance Strategies (CASs), that set the stage for Bank investments, address gender issues, concluded that, "While almost 23 percent and 21 percent of the CASs proposed gender-specific actions in the education and health sectors respectively, just over 4 percent of the CASs proposed such actions in the infrastructure sector."

Read Gender Action Consultant Suzanna Dennis's blog on climate change here!


© 2006 Gender Action, All Rights Reserved

Engendering Country Strategies
Economic reforms and gender

Women's Rights in Peace and Conflict

Tracking IFI Gender Implementation
Women, the Environment and Infrastructure

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