International Financial Institutions (IFIs), like the World Bank, routinely undermine their commitment to empower women and promote gender equality through their policies and projects. Gender-insensitive IFI investments disproportionately harm women and girls.
We invite civil society groups to join our new global network of Gender IFI Watchers, which will help you hold IFIs in your country accountable for their negative gender impacts.
As a Gender IFI Watcher, you will learn how to:
Membership is FREE! To register, click here.
- 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.
If you have already registered, access the tutorials by clicking here, or by selecting the Network from the Publications tab above.
The World Bank urgently needs a strong, rights-based gender safeguard that protects the rights of women, men, girls and boys. To contribute to the Bank's safeguards consultation process, members of the Global Gender IFI Watcher Network, which represents nearly 270 members from 83 countries,
collaboratively identified essential principles of a strong gender safeguard. We urge the Bank to integrate each of the mandates into the new Gender Safeguards Policy to ensure its effectiveness.
In April 2013, the World Bank has placed the Network's content on its safeguards consultation website. We hope this bodes well for a forthcoming World Bank safeguards policy but we must continue campaigning for one since strong forces in the World Bank oppose a gender safeguards policy.
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.
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!
Assessing the Effectiveness of World Bank Investments: The Gender Dimension
Although it is widely acknowledged that increasing the gender sensitivity of development aid increases its effectiveness, gender issues are usually inadequately addressed in World Bank investments and policy and strategy mechanisms. This is highlighted in a new Gender Action - United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) working paper entitled, "Assessing the Effectiveness of World Bank Investments: The Gender Dimension."
In this paper, Gender Action's Claire Lauterbach and Elaine Zuckerman evaluate the extent to which the World Bank integrates gender concerns in three sectors - 'agriculture and rural development'; 'sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS'; and 'conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction' - and in several policy and strategy mechanisms. The paper concludes that the Bank only superficially includes women's concerns in its investments and policy and strategy mechanisms. It provides recommendations for making Bank investments and policy and strategy mechanisms responsive to women's needs and rights.
Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Malawi
Women, over 70 percent of Malawi's agricultural workforce, are the backbone of Malawi's agriculture sector and central to Malawi's economy. But according to Gender Action research, IFI-financed agriculture projects in the country address gender issues inconsistently and risk undermining Malawi's food security.
Gender Action's new "Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Malawi" examines the five World Bank (WB) and African Development Bank (AfDB) investments active in early 2013. We find that though most projects identify gender issues and some have percentage participation targets for women, they frequently lack sex-disaggregated evaluation data and rarely contain project measures that address gender inequalities. Our recommendations include promoting and implementing women's full and equal participation in project design and implementation, in line with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and National Gender Program, and designing and collecting sex-disaggregated data to measure projects' gender impacts. The success of these projects depends on IFIs addressing women's concerns and ensuring that they benefit from IFI agriculture investments.
Towards Food Security and Resilience in Haitian Agriculture: A Call to Action (Gender Action and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group)
Food insecurity, exacerbated by two recent disastrous storms and a long period of drought, threatens the fragile progress achieved in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. It is now is a decisive time for the donor community to refocus its agriculture and food security policies and help the Government of Haiti implement programs that mitigate the impact of natural disasters on Haitian agriculture and meet the food security needs of the nearly 2 million Haitian children, women and families who are going hungry in Haiti today. This call to action, compiled by Gender Action and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, makes policy and program implementation recommendations to both the international donor community and the Haitian government, to begin the process of rebuilding that vital sector to Haiti's reconstruction and development.
From Ignorance to Inclusion: Gender-Responsive Multilateral Adaptation Investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region (Gender Action and the Heinrich Böll Foundation)
Gender Action and the Heinrich Böll Foundation's newly released report "From Ignorance to Inclusion: Gender-Responsive Multilateral Adaptation Investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region" exposes women's persistent marginalization from climate adaptation projects. Across the MENA region, where women already suffer from social and political exclusion, climate change is expected to further exacerbate existing gender inequalities. Despite this, our report finds that multilateral development investments, like those of the World Bank, have not prioritized gender-sensitivity in adaptation projects.
Based on in-depth gender analysis of all of the active multilateral climate change adaptation-related projects in the MENA region, the report finds that too often these investments view women as passive victims of climate change, ignoring their extensive expertise and agency in adaptation activities. This both compromises women's human rights and undermines the effectiveness of climate smart projects. The report recommends that multilateral investments integrate gender dimensions and promote women's involvement as leaders in climate change adaptation and environmental management. "Ignorance to Inclusion" reinforces Gender Action and the Heinrich Böll Foundation's efforts to promote women's full, consistent and meaningful participation in climate change investments.
Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity
Case Study: Zambia
Gender Action's new Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Zambia, examines the extent to which the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) fulfill their commitment to address gender inequalities and reduce malnutrition - an issue that disproportionately affects Zambian women and children.
Banking on Health:
World Bank and African Development Bank
Spending on Reproductive Health and
HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa
Based on fieldwork in Cameroon and Uganda, 'Banking on Health' reviews World Bank and AfDB projects to highlight how good quality matters as much as high quantity in reproductive and sexual health and HIV/AIDS spending.
A database containing comprehensive information about World Bank and AfDB investments (2000-2012) addressing reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan African countries accompanies the report.
Haiti's National Housing Policy: Will it Work for Women?
Gender Action's new case study, Haiti's National Housing Policy: Will it Work for Women? demonstrates that the Haitian government's World Bank-supported draft National Housing Policy risks burdening the poor, especially women, with expensive and unobtainable housing by relying on private solutions. The case study concludes with recommendations for strengthening the Policy to ensure that projects are affordable and accessible to all, especially the 1.5 million Haitians that remain displaced, almost three years after the January 2010 earthquake.
This case study is also available in French: La Politique Nationale du Logement: Aidera-t-elle les Haïtiennes?
Click here to read Gender Action's latest article by Claire Lauterbach, "A New BRICS Development Bank: Will It Work for Women?" featured in the Huffington Post, for an analysis of the new BRICS Development Bank's impact on women.
Click here to read a press release from Gender Action's partner organization, groundWork, focused on our latest capacity building workshop around the negative gender impacts of the World Bank funded Medupi Power Station in Lephlalale, South Africa.
Click here to read an article by Claire Lauterbach, "Measuring the Role Gender Plays in Development Bank Lending," featured on the Financial Times' This is Africa, for analysis on the quality of IFI investments in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
to read Elaine Zuckerman's Op-Ed, "Are Tar Sands Pipelines Positive or Negative for Women?", featured on the Huffington Post's "Green" Blog on May 21, 2012.
During the AWID International Forum on Women's Rights in Development in April 2012, Lily Womble, from the Girls Out Loud Blog, interviewed Elaine Zuckerman on Gender Action's work, International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and how young women can help promote gender justice in all IFI investments.
Click here to watch Elaine's remarks.
On April 17, 2012, The Real News Network (TRNN) interviewed Elaine Zuckerman on the newly elected World Bank President.
Elaine Zuckerman was interviewed on Al Jazeera's Inside Story on April 13th, 2012. She shared her perspective on the selection of a new World Bank president.
Click here to see the show
Hear Gender Action's Elaine Zuckerman
discuss the World Bank President selection process on April 2, 2012, on NPR's WBEZ.
Gender Action's IFI Watcher Toolbox!
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!
Disponible en Español
Speaking up for Gender: A Step-by-Step Guide to Holding IFIs Accountable
Speaking Up for Gender is a user-friendly Guide providing grassroots groups and others affected by IFI projects with information, tips and guidelines for submitting a gender discrimination complaint to an IFI accountability mechanism.
Disponible en Español
Gender Action Links!
We are linking up gender justice groups and international finance-watchers! Gender Action Links are brief, reader-friendly resources that critically connect gender, international finance and other key development issues, and provide case examples, resources and partnership opportunities.
Make a Difference!
Gender Action Heralds International Women Day with Haiti GBV IFI Case!, (March 5, 2012)
Gender Action: World Bank Increase and Improve HIV Treatment and Prevention, (December 9, 2011)
World Bank-Financed Oil and Gas Pipelines Discriminate Against Women, (October 12, 2011)
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 |
Smart Girls Out Loud Blog
(May 18, 2012)
Elaine Zuckerman on The Real News Network |
(April 17, 2012)
Elaine Zuckerman on Al Jazeera's Inside Story |
(April 13, 2012)
U.S. faces serious global challenge over World Bank president nomination
(WBEZ Worldview, Chicago Public Radio, April 2, 2012)
Gender Action tracks how the World Bank and IMF affect women and children
(WBEZ Worldview, Chicago Public Radio, November 1, 2011)
View our biannual Gender Action Updates which present our
achievements and projects to ensure that big IFI investments
promote and do not violate women’s rights.
• View our latest Update
"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
"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