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.
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:
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 first-ever 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 289 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 2013, the World Bank 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 since strong forces in the World Bank oppose a gender safeguards policy.
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.
Gender Action holds International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to account to their rhetorical commitments to gender equality and women's rights. This is accomplished by rigorous research, feminist analysis and advocacy on IFIs' policy implications on women. Gender Action believes that sustainable gender equality must address women's rights and aims to transform underlying power structures and dynamics in domestic, regional, and international policies and practices. Gender Action is the only organization exclusively focused on tracking gender in all IFIs, calling for the full integration of gender justice and women's rights in policies and programs, with a deep focus on the World Bank. This review shares the contributions and achievements of Gender Action over a ten-year period, from 2002-2012.
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.
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."
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.
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 |
(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 media items on the Press/Newsclippings page.
"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