During the fall 2016 World Bank Annual Meetings 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 in 2013. Residents were evicted without consultation, warning or compensation, and left homeless in crowded, dangerous Lagos. Three years later the “urban renewal” project has not delivered its promise to upgrade the slum. Bimbo has slept outdoors or 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 .
Our 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.
With current World Bank President Jim Kim in the last year of his first term, in the fall of 2016 the Bank Board will name who will serve as President next term. Kim is running uncontested although the previous 2011 nomination included three competing candidates: Kim, and one woman and one man from the global south. This year's presidential nomination process undermines Bank promises to promote gender equality, democratic governance, meritocracy and transparency. Kim will be confirmed for a second term. All 12 Bank presidents to date have been American males.
Bank staff, civil society, media and think tanks alike have called for Jim Kim to step down.
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: FT reported that, “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.”
The World Bank’s Board approved a new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) in August 2016 following a four-year global civil society campaign demanding Bank adherence to international human rights treaties including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The ESF, which will replace the Bank’s decades-old environmental and social safeguard policies, rarely mention gender and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). 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.
Civil society groups, including Gender Action, who campaigned to prevent dilution of the Bank’s already weak 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”
The new ESF won’t take effect until early 2018. In the meantime, the Bank will generate procedures and guidance notes to implement them.
Gender Action's relentless prodding the World Bank to improve its track record on Gender-Based Violence has moved the needle!
Gender Action research exposed that the Bank financed only three projects aimed at combatting GBV from 1947-2011. And Gender Action's and partners' field-based reports demonstrate 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.
In response to Gender Action advocacy, the Bank has financed over a dozen projects aimed at combatting GBV; promotes ending GBV in its 2015 gender strategy; and committed to establishing a Task Force to fight GBV in 2016.
- 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 of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The report addresses extremely low representation of women in political life, including 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 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 of 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, exploitation of prostitution and sexual abuse by peacekeepers. The report recommends how to end these discriminatory practices.
Gender Action celebrates Women’s History Month 2015 with this contribution:
Irene Tinker and Elaine Zuckerman
A chapter in International Development: Ideas, Experience, and Prospects.
Oxford University Press, 2014. Edited by Bruce Currie-Alder, Ravi Kanbur, David M. Malone, and Rohinton Medhora.
Gender Action’s celebrates Women’s History Month 2015 with a book chapter on the economic history of the women’s movement called, Women’s Economic Roles and the Development Paradigm.
Abstract: For over fifty years, women’s organizations have challenged the development paradigm, influenced development agencies to include women’s concerns, and formed a global social movement that has altered gender relations throughout the world. Women were invisible in early economic development theory which was influenced by a prevailing developed world middle class view. Limited research on women’s lives in developing countries contributed to the false idea that women did not work.
To challenge this social construction of gender, women scholars began to document women’s economic impact. Activists argued that many development programs were adversely impacting women. Socio-economic transitions have been altering family structure and drawing greater attention to gender relationships. Demands for women’s social and civil rights have been questioning the patriarchal structure of society. Today development agencies speak of equality; activists work to ensure that rhetoric is matched by expenditures and by greater women’s political power, representation and rights.
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!
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.
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.
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"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
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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
"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
"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
"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