Gender Action on the Radio
Gender Action on Television
- 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.
- On April 17, 2012, The Real News Network (TRNN) interviewed Elaine Zuckerman on the newly elected World Bank President.
- Elaine Zuckerman, was interviewed as a panelist on Al Jazeera's "Inside Story," as they discussed the election of the next World Bank President on April 13th, 2012.
- GENDER ACTION PARTNER PRESS RELEASE: Gender Impact Watch at Medupi
(groundWork, February 26, 2013)
- Gender Action Heralds International Women Day with Haiti GBV IFI Case!
(Gender Action, March 5, 2012)
- World Bank Must Increase and Improve HIV Treatment
(Gender Action, December 9, 2011)
- World Bank-Financed Oil and Gas Pipelines Discriminate Against Women
(Gender Action, October 12, 2011)
- Women's Organizations Call on Christine Lagarde
(Gender Action, August 26, 2011)
- G8 Must Include Women in Development
(Gender Action, May 25, 2011)
- Strauss-Kahn Must Go Now - GA Says DSK Leadership "Untenable"
(Gender Action, May 17, 2011)
and World Bank Policies Promote Violence Against Women;
120 organizations and individuals demand institutions live
up to gender equality commitment
50 Years Is Enough and CEE Bankwatch Network, March 7, 2007)
- Sakhalin II and BTC driving
increased prostitution, human trafficking and HIV/AIDS
(Gender Action and CEE Bankwatch Network, September 25, 2006)
Gender Action in the News: Articles written by GA staff
- A New BRICS Development Bank: Will It Work for Women?
Claire Lauterbach, April 2, 2013 (Featured in the Huffington Post)
- Measuring the Role Gender Plays in Development Bank Lending
Claire Lauterbach, October 10, 2012 (Featured on This is Africa)
- Are Tar Sands Pipelines Positive or Negative for Women?
Elaine Zuckerman, May 21, 2012 (Featured on the Huffington Post's "Green" Blog)
- Holding Financial Institutions Accountable for Gender Equality in Agriculture, Extractive Industry and Climate Investment
Elizabeth Arend, November 14, 2011 (Featured on the Earth Summit 2012 Stakeholder Forum Blog)
- World Bank must put its money behind the rhetoric on gender equality
Elizabeth Arend, October 24, 2011 (Featured on the Guardian Global Development Blog)
- To Help Haiti, Upend Aid Habits, and Focus on its Women
Elaine Zuckerman, February 2010 (Featured on AWID and CEPR)
- Huge gaps in the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan
Elaine Zuckerman, Jan/Feb 2007 (Featured in the Bretton Woods Project’s Update Number 54)
- The Limits of PRSPs
Elaine Zuckerman, March 2006 (Featured in Oxfam Great Britain's Gender
& Development: Views, Events and Debates)
- After the Dust
Settles: Singapore in Retrospect
Elaine Zuckerman's comments
on the World Bank's Gender Action Plan, December 2006 (Featured in the Bank Information Center's Summary of meetings, events, and statements related to
the 2006 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings)
- Targeting the top: Gender in the Rwanda PRSP
Elaine Zuckerman, November 2002 (Featured in Oxfam Great Britain Links Gender and Development
- Mainstreaming Gender in Advocacy Work on PRSPs
Elaine Zuckerman, July 2002 (Featured in Oxfam Great Britain Links Gender and Development
Media citing Gender Action
- U.S. Urged to Reject New World Bank Focus on Large Infrastructure
Inter Press Service, March 19, 2013
- District Participated in One Billion Rising, a Call to End Sexual Abuse
Street Sense, February 28, 2013
- World Bank's Health Work Challenged on Gender
Bretton Woods Update, December 6, 2012
- Call for Freeze on World Bank 'Land Grabs'
Bretton Woods Update, December 6, 2012
- Vielfliegerin für Amerika (Frequent Flyer for America)
Financial Times Deutschland, October 22, 2012
- World Bank announces new environment strategy
The Upstream Journal, Summer 2012
- Despite Rhetoric, Women Still Sidelined in Development Funding
Charundi Panagoda, Inter-Press Service, February 6, 2012
- Workers Send More Money Home, Surpassing Development Aid
Amanda Wilson, Inter-Press Service, December 2, 2011
- For Big Financial Institutions, Profit Trumps Women's Rights
Kanya D'Almeida, Inter-Press Service, November, 2011
- World Bank report focuses on an 'emerging market': women
Mary Tracy, Women's Views on News, September 26, 2011
- Grassroots Women Urge Rights-Based Development Path
Kanya D'Almeida, Inter-Press Service, September 23, 2011
- Women Hung Out to Dry in Global Labour Market
Kanya D'Almeida, Inter-Press Service, September 20, 2011
- The IMF: Violating Women since 1945
Christine Ahn and Kavita Ramdas, Foreign Policy In Focus, May 19, 2011
- The trouble with gender economics
Claire Provost, The Guardian, May 18, 2011
Bank, IMF Charged With Short-Changing Women focusing
on Gender Action’s work exposing the gender impacts of World
Bank and IMF operations.
Allison Stevens, Women's eNews, November 20, 2007
- IMF, World Bank Under Fire From Feminist
November 20, 2007, Feminist Majority
- Pipeline Aid Projects Called Harmful to Women
Bojana Stoparic, Women's eNews story, January 18, 2007
- World Bank book asks: What about men and gender?
Lesley Wroughton, Reuters, October 25, 2006
- Social Setbacks as Big Oil Expands Pipelines
Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service story, September 29, 2006
Aritcle Features Boom Time Blues report, the joint Gender Action
and CEE Bankwatch Network study finding that IFI-funded
massive oil and gas projects have brought prostitution,
human trafficking, poverty, HIV/AIDS and greater burdens
for local communities
- Montreal Woman
Creates International Organization
Nina Herman, Contact Vol. 18, Issue 2, Summer 2006, Published by the Ontario Older Women's Network
- The World Bank and Women Today
Elayne Clift, Women's Feature Service, October 25, 2004
- Gender Action - Structural Adjustment's Gendered Impacts - Interviews with Elaine Zuckerman and Aleksandra Vladisavljevic
Janice Duddy, March 19, 2004, Association for Women's
Rights in Development (AWID)
- How Much Sky Do Chinese Women Fill?
Jing Du, Washington Observer, March 3, 2004 interview (in
Chinese) with Elaine Zuckerman, published by many Chinese newspapers
including those cited below
Groups Prod World Bank on Gender
Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service, January 21, 2004
- Interview with Elaine Zuckerman
on Gender Action
Janice Duddy, Association for Women's
Rights in Development (AWID)
- Attracting entrepreneurs to the good cause: Non-profit groups can be just as demanding of business skills and competitiveness as their for-profit counterparts
Nancy Dunne, Financial Times, November 22, 2002
This is Africa
October 10, 2012
Measuring the role gender plays in development bank lending
By Claire Lauterbach
Global reproductive health has improved significantly over the past 20 years. The HIV infection rate has slowed, the number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth has dropped. This trend has spawned ambitious talk about getting to "zero" new HIV infections, discrimination and deaths. Donors boldly pledged $2.6 bn to reproductive health at last June's London Summit on Family Planning, adding to the billions of dollars of development aid so far from private foundations, international donors including multilateral development banks, and governments from South Africa to Nigeria.
Yet sub-Saharan Africa still has the World's highest percentages of HIV−positive people and maternal deaths. To tackle these problems, the World Bank and African Development Bank have spent almost two billion between them from 2006−2012. Despite imposing loan conditions over decades that eviscerated Africa's public healthcare sectors, they are still major funders of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programs in the region.
The World Bank and AfDB declare that women's full involvement is necessary for good reproductive health. So why do they ignore key gender issues in their reproductive health and HIV/AIDS investments?
Gender Action explores this gap in a new report, 'Banking on Health.' Together with Cameroonian and Ugandan partners, Gender Action reviewed World Bank and AfDB reproductive health and HIV/AIDS investments for their sensitivity to gender. Their gender record needs improvement.
Many projects show surprisingly little attention to gender roles. Economic dependence on male providers leaves many African women unable to negotiate safe sex practices with their partners or choose if and when to bear children. Women's unpaid, time−consuming care work can make it difficult to travel long distances where and when clinics or services are available. Yet projects often show little to no indication that these concerns were taken into consideration.
The banks also promote user fees, which cover few project costs. Women are particularly affected as they often do not control household revenues. When a woman must choose between buying food and getting pre-natal care, as we saw in Uganda, something is wrong.
The Banks also hardly track how specific investments affect women. Project monitoring and evaluation frameworks frequently make no mention of women, nor do they sex−disaggregate key indicators like whether women are equally involved in project design or have equal access to project benefits, like HIV services or recently refurbished clinics.
Quality aid fully considers gender roles and inequalities in project design, implementation and monitoring. That means mandating clear sex−disaggregated indicators to measure whether Bank − funded projects are working for women. Quality aid actively engages women 'beneficiaries' before projects begin and at convenient times in places where their voices won't be drowned out by men's. It engages men in their own sexual health and encourages them to promote their partners'.
Quality aid at the institutional level should fund strengthening health systems through grants. The World Bank and AfDB mostly make debt − burdening loans whose payment squeezes funds for health services. A full 45 percent of the World Bank's reproductive health and 60 percent of its HIV/AIDS investments in sub−Saharan Africa from 2006−2012 were loans. At the AfDB this figure is 60 percent.
Quality aid does not create empty clinics or programs that are inadequately serviced by regularly − and sufficiently − paid, trained national staff. Quality aid promotes the sustainable elimination of all financial barriers to health care, especially unaffordable user fees for essential services.
Finally, quality aid is accountable aid − judging aid's impact is impossible without data on what or how we spend. Information on AfDB spending amounts on reproductive health was "simply not available" according to one official. This is surely not aid accountable either to 'beneficiaries' or taxpayers. Tax-payer-funded banks need to better track and publish their healthcare spending data.
While the momentum is still strong to make good on the London Summit on Family Planning pledges, multilateral development banks and other donors should recognize that good quality matters as much as high quantity reproductive and sexual health and HIV/AIDS spending.
<back to top>
November 20, 2007
Bank, IMF Charged With Short-Changing Women
By Allison Stevens
Washington Bureau Chief
Activists are pushing the World Bank and IMF to change the
lens through which they view gender's role in development.
Although women are the majority of the world's poor, activists
say, the institutions overlook that when influencing economies.
WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--After working inside the World
Bank as an economist earlier in her career, Elaine Zuckerman
is now on the outside glaring in.
During three days last month timed to the anti-globalization
protests surrounding the annual meetings of the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, Zuckerman's
advocacy group, Gender Action, staged a series of workshops
accusing international financial institutions of discriminatory
Her thrust: that the World Bank--which makes loans to developing
countries--and the International Monetary Fund--which monitors
global finance and extends credits to stabilize economies--both
undermine women's rights by exacerbating poverty, gender-based
violence and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including
"Each year, these international financial institutions
make tens of thousands of investments in developing countries
that claim to empower women but in fact often harm them,"
Zuckerman told an audience at Georgetown University Law School
In 2003, for example, Tanzania accepted loans from the World
Bank and the IMF that required privatization of parts of its
water utility. That led to irregular service and price increases,
making water less affordable and forcing women and girls--responsible
for providing water for their families--to walk longer distances
to gather water or pay huge markups to water vendors, according
to a 2006 report by Gender Action.
Founded in 1945, the World Bank has grown from a single organization
designed to make reconstruction loans after World War II to
a group of five development banks that make million- and billion-dollar
loans ostensibly aimed at reducing global poverty. The International
Development Association--the World Bank arm that focuses on
the world's poorest countries--offers longer-term and lower-priced
loans than can be found on the free market.
The IMF also came into existence in 1945 and has a macroeconomic
mission: to promote global economic stability to prevent a
repeat of the 1930s-era worldwide depression. The IMF does
that mainly with initiatives to keep national currencies stable
and promoting cross-border trade, but it also makes its own
loans to help countries pay off debt.
World Bank membership is restricted to countries that belong
to the IMF.
Countering Claims of Harm
World Bank and IMF officials took strong exception to Zuckerman's
claim that the financial bodies' actions hurt rather then
help women and girls.
Spokesperson Amy Stilwell said the World Bank--now headed
by Robert Zoellick, who in July succeeded Paul Wolfowitz,
the former deputy secretary of defense for the Bush administration
that resigned amid a storm of controversy--is paying more
attention to women's issues and has made great inroads on
fronts such as primary education for girls and maternal and
In 2006, the World Bank unveiled a four-year, $25 million
plan for gender-specific projects relating to infrastructure,
agriculture, private-sector development and finance. The budget
has since increased to $30 million over four years.
Last month, the World Bank pledged to heighten its focus
on the farm economy in sub-Saharan Africa, which is managed
largely by women and girls. The promise came after an October
critique from the bank's internal assessors, who charged the
bank with neglecting sub-Saharan agriculture.
For its part, the IMF takes gender equality and women's rights
issues into consideration when giving advice to poorer countries
on how to improve their economies, said spokesperson Conny
"We look at the potential effects of our advice on poverty,
including whether women and girls may be disproportionately
harmed by cuts in social spending and layoffs in government
or public enterprises. Improving health, education and gender
equality plays a central role in developing a stable economy
and achieving sustainable growth."
Putting Women and Girls in Context
But Zuckerman says the institutions fail to fully consider
the implications of their actions on women and girls.
The IMF lacks any specific policy on gender and none of its
2,633 employees are gender experts, according to Gender Action.
Of the 15,000 employees at the World Bank only 115 are experts
in gender issues, she says.
Malcolm Ehrenpreis, a World Bank gender expert, said that
data give a distorted view because all paid employees, such
as receptionists and administrative staff, are included. He
said the bank is not adding gender specialists because it
is working instead to make women's rights a mainstream concern.
At the same time, he said, bringing about gender equality
is an ongoing mission, and noted that women trail men in formal
labor force participation, access to credit, entrepreneurship
rates, income levels, and inheritance and ownership rights.
"This is unfair, it hampers poverty reduction and it
is bad economics," he said.
Zuckerman says the World Bank, the IMF and other international
financial institutions have not rectified systemic problems--such
as policy-based loans--that discriminate against women.
Conditions for Receiving Loans
With a policy-based loan, a development bank negotiator might,
for example, tie strings to a loan offer that require changes
in national policy considered good for the nation's economy's
solvency. Such changes have often included privatizing state-owned
businesses, cutting labor protections and public-sector wages,
liberalizing trade laws and eliminating corporate taxes.
Gender Action Programs Coordinator Suzanna Dennis said such
changes often lead to price increases, public-sector downsizing
and social displacements that hurt women.
Bangladesh, for example, agreed in 2005 to liberalize its
trade laws. The deal exposed the country's garment industry
to fiercer competition with China and India and led to job
losses in an industry dominated by women, according to Gender
Some loan terms have led governments to cut spending on public
schools and hospitals and impose user fees. This can hurt
girls disproportionately because they are more likely to be
taken out of school if it becomes costly. As caregivers, girls
and women often leave school and jobs to provide health care
when it becomes too expensive, Dennis added.
Ehrenpreis, at the World Bank, said the bank supports countries
that seek to abolish fees for primary school or basic health
And he said foreign aid has contributed to "steady improvement"
for women and girls, especially in health care and education.
The bank is combating HIV-AIDS with programs designed to strengthen
women's rights, he added.
"It doesn't happen overnight," World Bank AIDS
expert Elizabeth Lule said in a statement about curbing HIV-AIDS.
"I think we have laid a good foundation. But much more
needs to be done."
Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief at Women's eNews.
Women's eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at email@example.com.
<back to top>
Daily News Wire
November 20, 2007
IMF, World Bank Under Fire From Feminist Leaders
Elaine Zuckerman, a former economist for the World Bank,
is speaking out against the discriminatory lending practice
of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. She
charges that the organizations undermine women's rights by
exacerbating poverty, gender-based violence and the spread
of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV-AIDS, reports
According to Zuckerman's advocacy group, Gender Action, the
IMF does not have any specific gender policy and none of its
2,633 employees are gender experts. The World Banks is only
a little better: of its 15,000 employees only 115 are experts
in gender issues.
"Each year, these international financial institutions
make tens of thousands of investments in developing countries
that claim to empower women but in fact often harm them,"
Zuckerman said last month in a speech at Georgetown University
Media Resources: Women's eNews 11/20/07, Gender Action Website
<back to top>
Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview with Jonah Meadows
April 19, 2007
Women & the World Bank
the audio file of this program
Elaine Zuckerman is the president of Gender Action, a non-profit
she founded to ensure women participate in and benefit from
international investments in developing countries.
The World Bank's 24-member board is behind closed doors to
discuss the scandal involving Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.
Wolfowitz is accused of being involved in the promotion and
transfer of his longtime girlfriend Shaha Riza (The Washington
Post reported that Riza's salary had increased from $132,660
to $193,590 per year, tax-exempt).
Critics in newspapers and inside the World Bank have called
for Wolfowitz to resign. Yesterday at a meeting in the World
Bank Wolfowitz vowed to stay on. The White House still fully
backs Wolfowitz, but it’s the World Bank’s board that will
decide his fate.
<back to top>
Gender Action, 50 Years Is Enough and CEE Bankwatch Network
March 7, 2007 Press Release
IMF and World Bank Policies Promote Violence Against Women;
120 organizations and individuals demand institutions live
up to gender equality commitment
Washington, DC—March 7 - On the occasion of International
Women’s Day, 120 organizations and individuals have signed
onto a call demanding that the International Monetary Fund,
the World Bank and related organizations live up to their
commitments to promote gender equality.
The call comes on the heels of reports linking World Bank
backed projects with increased risk to women and girls. “In
the case of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, communities
were promised development,” said Manana Kochladze of CEE Bankwatch
Network. “Yet many women and girls have been forced into prostitution,
that links to a subsequent rise in STDs, sexual harassment
and violence against women.” The pipeline is a flagship project
of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
“It is no surprise that these mega-development projects
tend to have major negative impacts on women and children,”
said Ruth Castel-Branco of the 50 Years Is Enough Network.
“After all, austere IMF policies have long promoted public
investment in mega-projects over social spending. For national
public health systems, funding cuts have resulted in a scarcity
of doctors and nurses, inadequate provision of medication,
especially anti-retroviral drugs, as well as services. Women
as the primary caretakers, bear the increased burden.”
Elaine Zuckerman of Gender Action said that it was not necessarily
due to lack of gender-related policies that these institutions
are endangering women. “As recently as 2003, the heads of
these institutions vowed to promote gender equality; many
of them have had a gender policy since the 1980s. As yet,
these commitments are largely unmet.”
Elaine Zuckerman (202) 587-5231
Ruth Castel-Branco (202) 489 2273
Manana Kochladze +99532 22 1604
<back to top>
Zuckerman's "Huge gaps in the World Bank’s Gender Action
Plan" featured in the Bretton
Woods Project's Update Number 54
Huge gaps in the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan
Elaine Zuckerman, Gender Action
Woods Update Number 54, January/February 2007
The World Bank's new Gender Action Plan (GAP), aptly named
Gender equality as smart economics, is tightly framed in the
Bank's economic policy framework. GAP explicitly targets economic
sectors where the Bank has a comparative advantage. These
include: agriculture, private sector development, finance,
infrastructure and water and sanitation. The plan promotes
increasing roles for women in the economic sectors that the
Bank calls motors of development. GAP concludes, "The
business case for expanding women's economic opportunities
is becoming increasingly evident; this is nothing more than
GAP lacks a human rights approach essential for a development
institution with a mission to reduce poverty. The objective
to make "markets work for women" is critically important
but entirely neglects the most important argument for empowering
women: achieving women's human rights.
The main beneficiaries of Bank investment in infrastructure
have been transnational corporations, not the poor. Adhering
faithfully to the Bank's decades-old business model, GAP aims
to increase women's participation in land, labour, product
and financial markets — while privatising them as much as
possible — which benefits corporations the most.
GAP is the first Bank gender guideline to 'mainstream gender'
into policy operations. However,
GAP fails to acknowledge that the Bank's enforceable operational
policy (OP 4.20) on gender and development upon which GAP
claims to build, contains a critical footnote excluding programme
loans from the requirement to address gender disparities.
That the operational policy takes precedence over GAP undermines
GAP's intention to engender policy-based loans. Operational
policies are the only Bank policies to which civil society
can hold the Bank to account.
While GAP claims that its economic approach will contribute
to achieving the MDGs, it nowhere acknowledges the contradiction
that the standard economic reforms that the Bank imposes on
poor countries - low-inflation and tight spending policies
- actually sabotage their achievement.
This is the first gender plan, strategy or policy that claims
to apply to the entire World Bank Group. Previous Bank gender
guidelines excluded the International Finance Corporation
(IFC), the private-sector lending arm of the Bank, and the
Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the political
risk insurance arm. In the case of the IFC, GAP views its
role as promoting gender responsiveness in the private sector,
without focusing on the poverty impacts and never mentions
Promoting "gender mainstreaming" remains the Bank's
key method to achieve gender equality, a noble goal, but one
that has not worked in the Bank or elsewhere. Many highly-regarded
women's rights experts have argued that mainstreaming gender
has actually seriously retarded the attainment of women's
rights. Initially GAP will concentrate on activities in "a
relatively small number of focus countries" to attain
The final selection of focus countries will be made by an
internal GAP executive committee.
The plan's implementers include the Bank, civil society organizations
(CSOs), governments and the private sector. CSOs encompass
many types of groups but in creating GAP the Bank only consulted
with a hand-picked seven-member external gender consultative
group. Looking forward, GAP identifies only one CSO partner,
US-based International Center for Research on Women, to design
and conduct GAP evaluations.
<back to top>
Pipeline Aid Projects Called Harmful to Women
by Bojana Stoparic, Women's
January 18, 2007
Two oil pipelines in Russia and the Caucasus boosted prostitution
and poverty according to a recent report. Authors hope the
findings will heighten awareness of gender-related development
needs at this weekend's World Social Forum in Kenya.
(WOMENSENEWS)--When multinational oil companies first visited
towns along the proposed routes for two new pipelines in Russia
and the Caucasus they promised to create jobs, build schools
and hospitals, and invest in small businesses.
What the local communities got instead was a large population
of migrant men and an increase in pollution, disease, sex
trafficking, poverty and sexually transmitted diseases, including
HIV-AIDS, along the pipeline routes, with women carrying the
brunt of the burden, according to a study by two nongovernmental
The groups came to these conclusions after visiting the affected
communities in April 2006 and analyzing thousands of pages
of documents relating to the roughly four-year construction
period of the $3.2 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and
the $20 billion Sakhalin II pipeline.
The Caucasus pipeline, which began flowing in May 2006 through
Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, is expected to transport 1
million barrels of crude oil daily from the Caspian Sea to
the Mediterranean for the European market when it reaches
The Sakhalin II, on Russia's Sakhalin Island, north of Japan
in the Okhotsk Sea, aims to transport 340,000 barrels of oil
equivalent daily. Production is anticipated to begin in 2008,
with 60 percent of the oil and gas going to Japan.
The groups that authored the report are the Washington-based
Gender Action and the Central and Eastern European Bankwatch
Network, a coalition of environmental organizations headquartered
in Prague, the Czech Republic. They are calling on the public
aid banks that partially financed the pipelines--the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International
Finance Corporation, the World Bank's corporate lending arm--to
adopt more stringent measures to protect local women for future
Projects Under Scrutiny
The environmental and social impact of development projects
backed by these institutions will come under further scrutiny
in Nairobi, Kenya, at the World Social Forum, which starts
Jan. 20. The forum is an annual gathering of activists opposed
to the theory that market forces unrestricted by government
offer the best path to global development.
Gender Action won't be attending the World Social Forum because
of budgetary constraints, but members say they have been working
with many of the groups who will be present to raise awareness
of how women in particular are affected by aid banks such
as the World Bank.
Established in 1944 as part of the United Nations system,
the World Bank is run by governments and uses public funds
to alleviate poverty and promote development.
The Caucasus and Sakhalin pipeline backers claimed that the
projects would help eradicate poverty by promoting business
development and democratization. The gross domestic products
for Georgia and Azerbaijan--where the pipeline runs--grew
in 2005 by 7 percent and 19.7 percent.
British Petroleum's pipeline received a $250 million public
loan in 2003 from the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development, as well as another $250 million from the International
Finance Corporation. The European Bank also provided support
to a consortium led by Royal Dutch Shell that was running
the first phase of the Sakhalin II project.
The Gender Action and CEE Bankwatch study, released in September,
found that most of the jobs created by the two projects went
to foreign migrant workers, predominantly young men from countries
such as Turkey, Uzbekistan and the Philippines. Moreover,
most of the new businesses that have sprung up along the pipelines
are restaurants and hotels, which will have a hard time staying
in business once the projects are complete and the migrant
Few Jobs for Women
The local women that Gender Action and CEE Bankwatch talked
with reported very few employment opportunities. The pipeline
jobs available to them are mostly cleaning and cooking, and
even these opportunities are so scarce that women in Georgia
have had to pay bribes to get them. When they do get these
jobs, they are offered short-term contracts. In Azerbaijan,
some women work 12 to 14 hours a day without holidays for
one to three months at a time.
At the same time, environmental degradation has threatened
traditional subsistence farming and fishing, and, according
to the local people interviewed, worsened respiratory illnesses.
"The World Bank and the other international financial
institutions make promises all the time to protect vulnerable
populations, to reduce poverty and to prevent HIV-AIDS, which
they don't keep," said Elaine Zuckerman, president of
Gender Action. "As public, taxpayer-funded institutions,
they should be held accountable to the citizens of the world."
The Caucasus pipeline, where both the International Finance
Corporation and the European Bank are involved, "shows
that both financial institutions lack effective social safeguards
and indeed both have failed in gender mainstreaming,"
said Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath, the CEE Bankwatch coordinator
for Southeastern Europe.
Michaela Bergman, principal environmental specialist for
the European Bank, told Women's eNews that there are no statistics
tying prostitution to the pipelines. "In Georgia, for
example, the route of the pipeline is the route that lorries
take to go to Turkey and there has always been a population
of sex workers," she said.
Gender Action's Zuckerman, though, says that while prostitution
existed before the pipeline project, it has increased and
is now reported in areas near the pipeline construction and
far from the international road where there were no sex workers
Planning Process Shut Out Women
The study found that neither the oil companies nor the multilateral
banks made sure that women were included in their consultations
with local communities in order to identify and mitigate any
potential negative consequences for community members.
According to Bergman, projects financed by the European Bank
are screened for working conditions, resettlement and their
impact on cultural heritage and indigenous people. However,
there is no specific gender policy, and the current environmental
policy--which is due to be revised in 2007--does not mention
women or gender.
"We will consider how to better address gender issues
during the policy review process," said Bergman.
The European Bank commissioned a study last year to assess
the potential for gender mainstreaming--or the consideration
of women in all phases of decision-making--within the institution,
but no decision has been made yet on how to follow up.
In September the World Bank announced a new four-year, $24.5
million gender action plan, which seeks to increase the resources
devoted to gender issues in the World Bank and International
Finance Corporation's lending operations for infrastructure,
finance, private-sector development and agriculture projects.
"It's become clear that while gender mainstreaming has
been successful in social sectors such as education and health,
it's lagging in the economic sectors," said Mayra Buvinic,
the World Bank's gender sector manager.
Additionally, the World Bank will test on-the-ground initiatives
that aim to strengthen women's economic enterprises by giving
them greater access to low-cost energy resources, formal financial
services and training programs. If shown to be effective,
these programs will then be scaled up.
<back to top>
on Gender Equality as Smart Economics: A World Bank Group
Action Plan (GAP) (Fiscal years 2007-10) 
By Elaine Zuckerman, Gender Action
Featured in: After
the dust settles: Singapore in retrospect. Summary of meetings,
events, and statements related to the 2006 IMF/World Bank
Center, December 2006
Every few years, the World Bank delivers a new gender action
plan, strategy and/or policy to provide guidance on gender
issues to Bank staff -- that we collectively call "gender
guidelines". New gender guidelines follow the arrival
of new managers of the Bank's gender unit . This is true
of the new GAP. Each new gender guideline improves upon the
previous one. The GAP is no exception. "Gender
Equality as Smart Economics" is the Bank's
strongest, most persuasive gender guideline yet.
Gender Action dedicated an entire publication to analyzing
and critiquing the Bank's previous gender guideline, inaugurated
by the previous gender unit head . These comments demonstrate
that GAP responds to many past Gender Action criticisms --
GAP's embracing many past Gender Action critiques indicates
that our work is having an impact on Bank rhetoric, policies
and guidelines. But we cannot celebrate so long as there is
little progress in "engendering" investments and
ending Bank loan conditionalities that deepen and feminize
poverty. The Bank's rhetorical response to civil society criticism
in the GAP follows a pattern experienced by the maturer environmental
campaign on the Bank (ECB) . One hopes that the GAP will
be instrumental in ending the Bank's role in perpetuating
gender discrimination. But history provides little cause for
optimism. To date, the Bank's many gender guidelines, prepared
by the Bank's small core of dedicated gender experts, have
hardly been implemented by most Bank non-gender experts .
Gender Action is an advocacy campaign to eliminate (1) the
disconnect between the Bank's persuasive rhetoric and research
on the need to abolish gender gaps to reduce poverty and achieve
growth and the neglect to do so in Bank investments, and (2)
Bank loan conditionalities that deepen poverty, especially
among women who already constitute seventy percent of the
world's poor 
Is GAP another in a series of well-intentioned commitments
to address gender discrimination in Bank operations?
In reviewing the GAP, the following issues should be considered:
Women's Rights and Business Case. Remarkably
the Bank's GAP hardly mentions "women's rights".
This is because GAP boasts repeatedly that it makes the "business
case" for empowering women -- as did the Bank's previous
gender guideline . GAP's stated objective is to make "markets
work for women". Doing so is critically important. However,
GAP entirely neglects the most important argument for empowering
women: achieving women's human rights. GAP mentions the word
"rights" only twice: both times in a list of regional
priorities stating that the Bank's Latin America and Caribbean
region's analytical work and technical assistance (TA) focuses
on many issues including property rights and citizenship rights.
These references neither specify women's rights, nor refer
to Bank lending except implicitly via TA that loans often
marginalize. When an International Finance Corporation (IFC)
staff member asked Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen whether he agreed
that the [GAP] strategy to increase women's economic empowerment
is the best means to improve society as a whole, Sen replied
that it ignored the key moral reason to empower women - to
provide women equal rights with men. Sen asserted that the
moral dimension is essential for achieving human development
GAP's business case befits a bank. But GAP lacks a human
rights approach essential for a development institution with
a mission to reduce poverty.
GAP prioritizes engendering the economic sectors including
agriculture, private sector development, finance and infrastructure
- energy, transport, mining, Information and Communications
Technology (ICT), and water and sanitation. GAP's approach
is implicitly premised on the Bank's current strategy making
infrastructure the motor of development. This strategy primarily
benefits transnational corporations largely because of the
Bank's procurement system bias, rather than the poor who are
Moreover, Gender Action demonstrates that the gendered impacts
of Bank economic sector policies have been harmful, as the
next section explains .
Policy-Based Loans. As the first Bank gender
guideline to emphasize the need to mitigate the gender differentiated
impacts of policy-based loans, GAP addresses a constant Gender
Action critique about the Bank’s neglect to do so . Although
somewhat buried on page 10, GAP proposes "mainstreaming
gender" (see Mainstreaming Gender section below) into
"policy operations (Development Policy Lending and Poverty
Reduction Support Credits)". This would mark significant
progress if GAP also repaired the Bank’s Operational Policy
(OP) 4.20: "Gender and Development" upon which GAP
says it builds. OP 4.20 contains a footnote that excludes
"development policy loans" from its objective to
address gender disparities and inequalities in Bank loans.
This footnote undermines GAP’s intention to tackle policy-based
loans. It is critical to remove OP 4.20’s policy-based loan
exemption since mandatory Bank OPs are the only policies to
which civil society can hold the publicly-owned Bank accountable.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). GAP
states that it aims to promote economic development and attain
the MDGs. As ActionAid and Stephen Lewis so brilliantly demonstrate,
Bank economic policies sabotage achieving the MDGs including
(1) universal education in a world where two thirds of the
100 million children not attending school are girls, and (2)
combating HIV/AIDS that is devastating Africa where victims
are overwhelmingly young females . GAP nowhere acknowledges
IFC and MIGA. All previous Bank gender guidelines
confined themselves to the IBRD and IDA, excluding the IFC
and MIGA . GAP states that its gender mainstreaming applies
to all World Bank Group member organizations. The IFC’s roles
in GAP actions include promoting gender responsiveness in
the private sector by engendering three Investment Climate
Assessments annually. This is not the type of action likely
to achieve the Bank Group mission of reducing poverty. GAP
never mentions the Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee
Agency (MIGA) -- which constantly guarantees corporate investments
with extremely harmful gendered impacts .
Gender Mainstreaming. The GAP persists in
promoting gender mainstreaming as the Bank’s key method to
achieve gender equality. Gender mainstreaming is a noble goal,
but it has not worked in the Bank or elsewhere. GAP does not
acknowledge the critique by highly-regarded women’s rights
experts who argue that gender mainstreaming has seriously
set back achievements in attaining women’s rights .
Staff. Gender Action demonstrated that a
fraction of one percent of Bank staff are gender experts and
that the overwhelming majority of Bank non-gender experts
neglect and/or disdain addressing gender issues in Bank operations
. The main reasons are Bank non-gender experts feel overwhelmed
by multitudes of mandatory policies they must address and/or
they have patriarchal mindsets.
We recommended that the Bank multiply its gender experts
significantly. In response, a GAP performance indicator is
to "increase the number of World Bank staff in sectors
and regions with skills to engender operations". This
Incentives and Mandates. GAP promotes incentives
for Bank staff to address gender issues, for example through
providing additional funding for addressing gender issues
in Bank loans. However, GAP fails to impose "mandates"
which are also necessary for success.
We welcome GAP’s emphasis on incentives that goes beyond
winning the hearts and minds strategy of the Bank’s previous
gender head . But a major lesson of the environmental
campaign on the Bank is that Bank staff need mandates to identify
and address crosscutting social issues like gender in all
Training. Gender Action criticized past
Bank gender training for not being mandatory . Voluntary
Bank gender training is overwhelmingly populated with gender
experts . Unfortunately, GAP does not propose mandatory
Like all previous Bank gender guidelines, GAP includes training
on gender issues for non-gender experts. To support its business
case, GAP’s proposed training focuses on the economic sectors.
GAP also proposes longer term training after concluding that
past short-term training has not been very successful. GAP
recommends longer term "developmental assignments for
sector and regional staff assigned to work on gender issues
for a period of three to nine months on average". This
sounds like a good initiative for some Bank staff but one
that might cover only a fraction of them. We look forward
to seeing the results of this training.
Focus Countries. GAP will concentrate activities
on "a relatively small number of focus countries"
to attain measurable impacts. The final selection of focus
countries will be made by the internal Bank Groups Executive
Committee for the Action Plan. We await the results.
Communications. GAP’s implementation includes
a large communications campaign. The Bank’s awesome
External Affairs complex (EXT) is the main executor. EXT manages
one of the world’s best financed, most effective propaganda
machines. One can already imagine the Bank’s next series of
CNN commercials picturing how the Bank empowers poor women
around the world. GAP promises that President Wolfowitz will
raise gender issues and discuss the GAP at international meetings
. Undoubtedly, GAP’s media exposure is likely to be massive.
It is likely mislead the public to believe that the Bank is
reducing poverty and empowering women.
Local Ownership. GAP’s communication campaign
goals include "fostering national and local ownership"
of the GAP. But borrower country populations are tired of
fictional national and local ownership of anything Bank-created,
for example poverty reduction strategies that the Bank mythically
insists are country-owned.
Civil Society. GAP’s identified implementers
include civil society organizations (CSOs) in addition to
Bank regions, Networks, governments and the private sector.
CSOs encompass many types of groups. The entire CSO community
that the Bank relied on to create the GAP consisted of the
Bank’s hand-picked seven member External Gender Consultative
Group. Past Bank partnerships with CSOs critical of the Bank
have resulted in such strong CSO disappointment, for example,
through the Joint Facilitation Committee and the Structural
Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative (SAPRI),that is
unlikely that many of them would collaborate again with the
GAP identifies only one CSO partner - the International Center
for Research on Women - to implement designing and conducting
Conclusions. To conclude, GAP is the best
Bank gender guideline yet. However it has serious flaws including
neglecting to (1) embrace a human’s rights framework; (2)
remove the policy-based loan exemption from the Bank’s Gender
and Development Policy, the only Bank gender policy to which
civil society can hold the publicly-owned Bank accountable;
(3) link GAP’s goal of attaining the MDGs to Bank conditionalities;
(4) include the Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee
Agency (MIGA) in its discussed targets; (5) acknowledge the
shortfalls of gender mainstreaming - GAP’s key strategy.
Other serious constraints include the continuous disconnect
between good Bank policies and their implementation, for example
the Bank’s previous gender guidelines, the Environmental Safeguard
Policies and the Extractive Industries Review.
Finally, so long as the Bank persists in imposing loan conditionalities
that deepen poverty and gender discrimination, GAP’s intention
to empower women will be seriously impeded
 The World Bank’s Gender Action Plan (GAP) was launched
at the September 2006 annual World Bank-International Monetary
Fund meetings in Singapore.
 See Gender Action’s "Reforming the World Bank: Will
the New Gender Strategy Make a Difference? A Study with China
Case Examples", 2003 and an updated version, "Reforming
the World Bank: Will the Gender Strategy Make a Difference?
A Study with China
Case Examples", 2005. Elaine Zuckerman and Wu Qing. Heinrich
Boell Foundation. This Gender Action publication reviewed
the World Bank’s previous gender guideline, "Integrating
Gender in the World Bank’s Work: A Strategy for Action".
World Bank. 2002.
 Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 Launched in 1982, the continuous, large ECB achieved significant
gains including the creation of the mandatory Environmental
Safeguard Policies and the Inspection Panel. Bank loans to
this day however try to circumvent these mechanisms and Bank
conditionalities also undermine environmental safeguards,
keeping the ECB on its toes.
 Gender Action 2005 and other publications and press clippings
 See Gender Action’s Gender Guide to World Bank and IMF
Policy-Based Lending, forthcoming, December 2006.
 World Bank 2002; ibid, footnote 2.
 Amartya Sen presentation, "The Gender Perspective:
What Difference Does It Make?" at the Irene Tinker Lecture
Series, cosponsored by the International Center for Research
on Women and the Wolfensohn Center of the Brookings Institution,
 See Gender Action December 2006, ibid; and Vladisavljevic,
Aleksandra and Elaine Zuckerman. 2004. Structural Adjustment’s
Gendered Impacts: The Case of Serbia and Montenegro. Gender
Action. http://www.genderaction.org/images/Gender-SALs- Serbia&Mont.PDF.
Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 Gender Action 2006 ibid.
 Marphatia, Akanksha A. and David Archer. September 2005.
Contradicting Commitments: How the Achievement of Education
for All is Being Undermined by the International Monetary
Fund. ActionAid International and Global Campaign for Education.
Rowden, Rick. September 2005. Changing Course: Alternative
Approaches to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals and
Fight HIV/AIDS. ActionAid International USA.
Lewis, Stephen. 2005B. Race Against Time. Anansi Press.
 Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 To give one example, MIGA is providing political risk
insurance to private mining companies operating in the Democratic
Congo that have contributed to conflicts, mass rapes and sexual
 Clark, Cindy et al. Where is the money for women’s rights?
AWID/Just Associates. 2005; Stephen Lewis ibid; Paula Donovan.
Equality Now or Never: A New UN Agency for Women. July 2006.
 Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 Gender Action 2005, ibid.
 GAP Table 5.
<back to top>
Bank book asks: What about men and gender?
WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Improving the lives of women
in the world's poorest countries has been the focus of development
programs for more than three decades, but now a new World
Bank book asks: What about the men?
The theme of the book "The Other Half of Gender"
released this week initially seems politically incorrect and
has already stirred wide debate, given that women traditionally
have been victims of inequality and discrimination.
But the authors argue that resolving some of the most chronic
social ills in the developing world requires helping men deal
with problems unique to being men.
They note that male gender identity -- or what it means to
"be a man" -- is linked to some of the world's most
pressing problems such as war, the spread of HIV/AIDS, urban
crime and even terrorism.
"This is not to convert young men into victims or to
downplay the many ways that women face serious and pervasive
disadvantages in the current gender order," said Maria
Correia, one of the main editors.
"Rather, it is about understanding that men have gendered
identities and pressures, and that these, in turn, are linked
to some of the most problematic and intractable development
issues of the day, such as HIV/AIDS and armed conflict."
Correia said in an interview that global efforts to balance
power between men and women should be expanded to also confront
the demands and pressures men face in different societies
and cultures. The issue is not gender equality, but dealing
with the pressures and needs of each gender, she said.
"It is not that men are faring worse because women have
advanced," Correia said. "It is just that we haven't
realized that men are gendered beings."
According to the book, many men who live in poor, economically
marginalized areas or war-affected zones find it difficult,
if not impossible, to fulfill their traditional masculine
roles as household providers.
The problem is especially acute in rural or post-conflict
regions of Africa, where widespread unemployment or underemployment
leaves men without proper livelihoods or lacking in self-esteem.
Such pressures can cause men to resort to violence and aggression
against women and children, the authors note.
Correia said men's behavior in most cases is determined by
cultural patterns. In Africa, young men often are dependent
on older, powerful chiefs or elders, who dictate when they
can marry or have access to land and family wealth.
Such a dynamic can create trouble between generations, breaking
down traditional societal structures and leading to alienation
Steen Jorgensen, the World Bank director for social development,
said understanding men's gender issues is necessary for development
policies to benefit whole societies.
"At a minimum, you cannot deal with women's issues without
understanding the gender roles of men," Jorgensen said.
"At a maximum, you get much better development outcomes
if you really understand people's identity."
Geeta Rao Gupta, president of the Washington-based International
Center for Research on Women (ICRW), applauded the authors
for tackling the little-known issue of why men are expected
to adhere to dominant forms of masculinity that can promote
conflict and homophobia.
"We have learned in the field of gender and development
is that if we want change to occur in gender roles, you have
to work with both men and women," Rao Gupta said.
A burning question in the development community is how the
relationship between men and women affects poverty levels,
Rao Gupta said.
"Empowering women doesn't disempower men. Empowering
women would require men to change their roles, so they don't
have power over women but power to work with women and find
common solutions," Rao Gupta added.
Elaine Zuckerman, who heads Washington-based Gender Action
and is a former World Bank economist, said the issue of men's
gender is timely and needs to be given more prominence.
But Zuckerman said the World Bank's should do more to use
its research to promote gender equality in its development
programs in poor countries.
<back to top>
Setbacks as Big Oil Expands Pipelines
WASHINGTON, Sep 29 (IPS) - Predominantly foreign male workers
who relocated to build massive oil and gas projects, combined
with feeble gender policies, have brought prostitution, human
trafficking, poverty, HIV/AIDS and greater burdens for local
communities around those projects, new research finds.
This array of problems was found at two of the world's largest
pipeline projects, the 3.2-billion-dollar Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
(BTC) and Russia's 20-billion-dollar Sakhalin II.
Both projects are run by international oil giants and funded
in part by multilateral public banks that are dominated by
energy-thirsty industrialised nations.
The World Bank's arm that lends to the private sector, the
International Finance Corporation, has backed both projects.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
has backed the BTC project with a 250-million-dollar public
loan. It is poised to make a final funding decision on the
highly controversial Sakhalin II project.
Shell is leading the consortium running Sakhalin II in Russia,
while oil giant British Petroleum is constructing the BTC
pipeline to transfer oil from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will run 1,100 miles, from
the Sangachal terminal near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan,
through Georgia and to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
Sakhalin II aims to extract oil and gas from beneath the
coast of far eastern Russia's Sakhalin Island. Production
is due to start in 2008 with 60 percent going to the Japanese
The report, "Boom time blues: Big oil's gender impacts
in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Sakhalin", argues that the
projects have brought an increased social burden and poverty
for local communities, and particularly women, as a workforce
of mostly foreign male workers settles in those areas.
Shell and BP's mega-projects have also lead to environmental
degradation, land loss and damaged communal infrastructure,
according to the report by CEE Bankwatch Network and the Washington-based
The report is based on CEE Bankwatch Network's fact-finding
missions to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Sakhalin earlier this
year, an analysis of existing accounts from local non-governmental
organisations and activist groups, and Gender Action's survey
questionnaire and gender assessment of both projects' extensive
In the case of the Russian project, the groups say it has
brought considerably fewer employment opportunities to local
women than originally promised, with catering and cleaning
accounting for most jobs.
Working conditions for women employed in cleaning and catering
are often viewed by locals as unacceptable as they entail
very long hours, which decrease the time for their family
responsibilities and personal activities.
Because many of the workers in the project come from "exotic"
countries, they have brought "exotic" diseases with
them, such as tuberculosis, which were not found in the area
in the past, the report finds.
It says that local women were both embarrassed and alarmed
about the indications of increased prostitution, and have
experienced sexual harassment and crime as a result of contact
between the pipeline workers and resident populations.
"Again and again on Sakhalin Island, I heard strong
discontent about Shell's behaviour towards the local environment
and the harsh effects of the project on Sakhalin's social
fabric," said Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath of the Czech Republic
CEE Bankwatch Network, who conducted research for the report
on Sakhalin Island.
Calls for comment from British Petroleum and the EBRD were
not returned. The IFC said it was considering a response,
but did not answer questions from IPS by Friday.
According to the report, the BTC project didn't fare much
"Despite the pledges of the project sponsors and lenders,
it has failed to increase women's access to natural resources
and improved infrastructure, has not provided employment and
permanent income, nor has it empowered women to participate
in decision-making," it said.
The report finds that women's rights, trafficking and the
spread of HIV/AIDS have been major concerns for local communities
near the BTC pipeline. It relays statements from the police
chief of one of the regions around BTC as saying that the
increased narcotics trade and spread of AIDS is directly connected
with prostitution due to the pipeline's construction.
During the construction of the pipeline, there were an increased
number of foreigners as well as workers from other regions
within the country, bringing the development of related businesses
such as restaurants and hotels. As a result, the amount of
drug use, prostitution and alcohol consumption increased.
The groups behind the report held it up as further evidence
that the institutions backing the projects should either stop
bankrolling them or insist on much tougher social and environmental
standards, something the companies involved have resisted
because of the added costs of stronger environmental measures.
"Both the EBRD and the IFC have turned a blind eye to
the increased prostitution, human trafficking and HIV/AIDS
that the BTC and Sakhalin II pipeline projects generate,"
said Elaine Zuckerman of Gender Action.
Zuckerman says that public lenders should take steps to curb
abuse of women and integrate better gender protections in
their lending safeguards.
"What we are saying is that they need to create and,
of course more importantly, implement policies to prevent
the kind of gender impacts that large investments that they
are making have," she told IPS.
"On one hand they have these small projects that claim
to be financing health care services and on the other hand,
there are big bucks projects, like the pipelines, that in
fact undermine their own poverty reduction and health services
goals," she added. Those lenders have no rules to recognise
the rights of women by ensuring that social management, community
development, and consultations reach out to women and protect
them from gender-based human rights violations, the report
Critics say such big projects have traditionally brought
limited and short-term employment opportunities, and often
fail to provide promised support for local communities or
to help alleviate poverty.
<back to top>
Gender Action and CEE Bankwatch Network
Press release Monday 25 September, 2006
Sakhalin II and BTC Driving Increased Prostitution, Human
Trafficking and HIV/AIDS
A new report launched today documents the harrowing rise
of prostitution, trafficking, HIV/AIDS and violence against
women in communities affected by Shell’s Sakhalin II and BP’s
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline projects.
Based on field research with local people conducted by CEE
Bankwatch Network and Gender Action in April this year, "Boom
time blues: Big oil's gender impacts in Azerbaijan, Georgia,
and Sakhalin"  reveals the increased burden and poverty
for local communities and women as a result of the inflow
of predominantly foreign male workers as well as the environmental
degradation, land loss and damaged communal infrastructure
that Shell’s and BP’s mega-projects have delivered.
The report argues that the involvement of the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the two projects
so far has failed to "provide [the] suitable social safety
nets for vulnerable members of the community", which
the EBRD’s current environmental policy regards as necessary
for achieving "progress towards sustainable development".
Along with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the
EBRD has backed the BTC project with a USD 250 million public
loan and is reportedly on the brink of making a final funding
decision on the highly controversial Sakhalin II Phase 2 project
Fidanka Bacheva-McGrath of CEE Bankwatch Network, who conducted
research for the report on Sakhalin Island, said: "Again
and again on Sakhalin Island I heard strong discontent about
Shell’s behaviour towards the local environment and the harsh
effects of the project on Sakhalin’s social fabric. This new
report shows with examples from the BTC project of grave gender
and social impacts that once the public banks are in, they
provide very little help to communities affected by these
big oil projects. We hope that the public banks’ mistake with
the BTC project will not be repeated and that Shell’s persistent
lack of respect for international standards and local communities
will not be sanctioned by millions of dollars of public money
from the EBRD."
In 2006 the EBRD is preparing to revise its environmental
policy which fails to properly cover social issues. Currently
the EBRD policy does not have specific safeguards for vulnerable
groups, and CEE Bankwatch Network and Gender Action are calling
for the EBRD to introduce much more detailed policies and
safeguards that will require project sponsors to properly
identify and address social and gender issues during a project’s
design, construction and operation period.
Elaine Zuckerman, of Gender Action, concluded: "Both
the EBRD and the IFC have turned a blind eye to the increased
prostitution, human trafficking and HIV/AIDS that the BTC
and Sakhalin II pipeline projects generate. Lacking gender
policies, both institutions are ill-equipped to identify and
address such tragic social outcomes of their investments.
It is time for the EBRD and IFC to develop and implement binding
gender safeguard policies."
For more information, contact:
Fidanka Bacheva McGrath
CEE Bankwatch Network, Sofia, Bulgaria
Tel: +359 2 943 11 23
Mobile: +359 899 876 095
Gender Action, Washington DC, USA
Tel: +1 202-587-5242
Notes for editors:
1. "Boom time blues: Big oil's gender impacts in Azerbaijan,
Georgia, and Sakhalin" is available for download at:
2. Cited in the existing EBRD Environmental Policy
<back to top>
Montreal Woman Creates International Organization
Contact, published by the Ontario Older Women’s Network
Vol. 18, Issue 2. Summer 2006.
When Montrealer Elaine Zuckerman was living among the poor
in China in the 1970s, working on communes and in factories,
it reinforced her passion for social justice.
Having earned degrees at McGill University and the University
of Toronto, she went on to work for the World Bank as an economist.
When she saw how "structural adjustment" loans were
impacting on the poor, especially on women, she was moved
to create "Gender Action", a non-profit advocacy
campaign to hold International Financial Institutions (IFIs)
accountable on their promises to empower women and to leverage
the IFIs power to redress the unacceptable feminization of
Gender Action was launched in 2002. Today the organization
boasts a board and council of women and men from the U.S.,
the U.K., India, Canada, Rwanda, Kenya and China.
It is the only organization dedicated to promoting gender
equality and women's rights in all IFI investments such as
those of the World Bank. In a world where 70% of the poor
are female, Gender Action's vision is a World Bank and other
IFIs with mandatory gender policies and strategies that are
implemented to increase women's economic empowerment opportunities
and eliminate violations against their human rights.
How do "structural adjustment" loans impact on
women? Public health expenditure cutbacks usually result in
increasing women's home care for sick family members and thus
reducing their time available for paid work. Public sector
and enterprise restructuring in favour of infrastructure reduces
social benefits such as health and education and eliminates
many jobs for women. Country trade tariff reductions threaten
the livelihood of farmers, the majority of whom are women
in the poorest countries. Gender Action develops partnerships
with local citizens' groups in countries where IFIs invest.
It enables them to analyze IFI loans and to undertake advocacy
to ensure these loans help rather than harm poor women and
men. Gender Action also publicizes the results of its research
and conducts advocacy directly on the lending institutions
and borrowing governments to eliminate harmful effects.
Last year Elaine travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina, China,
Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Thailand, gathering data and
stimulating local action. In the previous year the organization
produced a publication focusing on the impact of IFI policies
on women in Serbia and Montenegro. It enabled local groups
to pressure their government and the World Bank to create
employment, retraining and other compensatory programs for
single female parents and other vulnerable women who lost
their jobs through structural adjustment programs, as well
as achieving a 15% increase in women's pensions.
It goes to show what one young women with a vision can accomplish.
<back to top>
The Limits of PRSPs
Oxfam Great Britain's Gender and Development: Views,
Events and Debates
Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2006
"Gender Action is dedicated to promoting gender equality
and women's rights in all international financial institution
(IFI) investments. The IFIs are the largest source of public
financing for the poorest countries. With developing country
partners, we track and analyze IFI investments, and do advocacy
to ensure IFI investments empower women. We had a goal in 2005
to ensure that the IFIs would better promote women's rights
and gender equality in future.
"It was crystal clear by the start of the year that
there were massive challenges posed by the fact that the IFIs
are using mechanisms that have negative consequences for the
agenda of the international women's movements. In the name
of poverty reduction, the mechanism of the Poverty Reduction
Strategy Papers (PRSPs) approved by the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and World Bank Board of Directors since 2000 has
been a new vehicle for old 'structural adjustment' economic
policy reform programmes. There are now 50 'country-owned'
PRSPs. By the start of 2005, it had become clear that the
mechanisms that follow PRSPs—IMF Poverty Reduction Growth
Facilities (PRGFs) and World Bank Poverty Reduction Support
Credits (PRSCs)—impose painful economic measures on poor and
transition countries, deepening poverty.
"For example, health expenditure cutbacks increase women's
home care for sick family members, and reduce their time available
for paid work; and public sector and enterprise restructuring
eliminates many jobs and benefits. Women are often the first
to lose jobs and the last to be rehired if there are reductions
in the number of public sector jobs, because they are assumed
to be secondary breadwinners, despite the increasing number
of female-headed households in many countries. Developing
counties are also asked to reduce their trade tariffs and
this is not reciprocated by countries of the global North,
and this threatens the livelihoods of farmers, the majority
of whom are women, in the poorest countries.
"The PRSCs and PRGFs are administered by organisations
that fail to recognize these and other gendered consequences,
and the result is that the empowerment of women and the attainment
of gender equality are undermined as goals. To reverse this
pattern from 2006 and onwards, civil society must pressure
the taxpayer-funded IFIs, and the corporate interests behind
them, to stop imposing harmful economic reform agendas on
poor countries and people. Without eliminating these economic
reforms, advances in the goals of the women's movement will
THE WORLD BANK AND WOMEN TODAY
<back to top>
Women's Feature Service, syndicated in Asian newspapers
October 25, 2004
"You've come a long way, Baby!" a cigarette manufacturer
claimed when it pitched its product to women, even though
that product was harmful to them in the long run. Today, even
its critics agree that the World Bank has come a long way
in understanding the importance of women's participation in
economic development. But will the Bank's strategy for "investing
in women" pay off for women over time?
Elaine Zuckerman, founder of Gender Action established in
2002 to ensure that international financial institutions like
the World Bank promote gender equality and women's rights
in all their investments worldwide, is concerned. Formerly
an economist at the Bank, she is worried that without mandates
within the institution to enforce the implementation of their
gender strategy, not much will happen. Such mandates were
put in place around the Bank's environmental initiatives with
measurable results. Taking her cue from that success, Zuckerman
now advocates from outside the Bank to improve women's lives,
pointing out that the Bank has almost nine percent of its
staff dedicated to environmental issues, while there is still
less than one percent dedicated to gender.
"You can't just expect to win over the hearts and minds
of Bank staff or governments," Zuckerman says. That's
why she works with women from developing countries to pressure
their governments on behalf of women. Working with local partners
in Bangladesh, China, Eritrea and several other African countries,
as well as in Serbia and Montenegro, Gender Action has now
launched several projects to promote women's rights and gender
equality, particularly with respect to investments on behalf
of international financial institutions like the Bank, which
represent the largest public source of development financing
in the world.
Among Gender Action's four main programs, Engendering Poverty
Reduction Strategy Papers, or PRSPs, is critical. PRSPs were
introduced in 1999 by the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) as a prerequisite for borrowing by their
poorest client countries. PRSPs serve as national plans with
budgets that determine national investment priorities. They
play a critical role in a country's eligibility for multilateral
and bilateral investments. Gender Action's 2002 audits of
PRSPs revealed that "only a handful" of them addressed
gender issues "even superficially, and most PRSPs fail
to promote women's rights or gender equality." For example,
Albania's PRSP had "no clear representation of gender
issues within working, technical, and national and local government
consultation groups" and there was no cabinet level women's
ministry identified. Some countries, like Gambia and Guinea,
included women in grassroots consultations but no specific
gender advocates were identified within government or among
international agency stakeholders. In a great many cases,
no specific gender strategies were identified and gender analysis
or mainstreaming was minimal. Among 13 PRSPs published during
2002, three "almost mainstream gender, about eight spottily
apply an outdated Women in Development approach, and another
two almost neglect gender."
Gender Action has also issued a study it conducted in 2003
analyzing the World Bank's gender strategy, "Integrating
Gender in the World Bank's Work: A Strategy for Action." In
it's report, "Reforming the World Bank: Will the New
Gender Strategy Make a Difference?," Zuckerman claims
that the Bank's gender experts are unlikely to heed the Strategy's
appeal to redress gender disparities through Bank projects
so long as doing so is 'desirable' rather than mandatory.
Bank staff, the report says, need incentives to address gender
disparities just as they did to address environmental concerns.
The report concludes that "substantial progress has been
made in making gender a Bank priority," but says, "the
Bank's mere $600,000 one-year Incentive Fund for Gender Mainstreaming
to facilitate Strategy implementation during FY 2002 [the
first year of the Bank's Gender Strategy] reflects the low
priority gender commands among Bank priorities." Other
obstacles to implementation include too few gender experts
within the Bank and the assumption that Country Gender Assessments
(CGAs) will adequately or holistically address gender issues.
A case study in China, the Bank's largest client, indicated
that none of the Bank's written products there seriously recognized
or addressed gender gaps despite the timely availability of
the China Country Gender Review that was supposed to feed
into country operations, write Zuckerman and her co-author,
Zuckerman is also concerned that the Bank "has no policy
to counter the rapidly proliferating human trafficking problem
affecting many of its client countries in every region."
She believes that the Bank needs to make a human rights case
for women's rights and not just an economic one. Standard
macroeconomic and sector policies, she says, will not be effective
alone in addressing women's needs.
Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of the Toronto-based Association
for Women's Rights in Development, concurs. She says the World
Bank has yet to realize the promises of the Fourth World Conference
on Women held in Beijing in 1995. Kerr believes that the gender
mainstreaming agenda that emerged from Beijing has been lost
for lack of political will and understanding among institutions
like the Bank, despite good intentions. "You can't just
add women and stir," she says. "Change must be much
more transformative." The Bank, she says, committed to
doing better with respect to gender, but "it's not there"
in terms of engaging with women's groups. Kerr thinks the
emphasis on poverty alleviation coming from the Bank is antithetical
to empowerment. "It's a neopolitical agenda. It doesn't
see women's needs as different. Trade liberalization doesn't
necessarily lead to justice or bring women, and men, out of
poverty. The assumptions are wrong. At the end of the day,"
she says," you can't show any significant changes in
According to documents available on the World Bank web site,
there is a clear rationale for investing in women. Pointing
to gaps and barriers in education and health as well as the
legal and regulatory arena, the Bank has explored a number
of ways to reduce those barriers and has broadened its policy
framework "to reflect the ways in which the relations
between women and men constrain or advance efforts to boost
growth and reduce poverty for all." Taking a gender and
development approach has allowed the Bank to "enhance
women's contributions to development" and to "focus
on gender differentiation and the factors underlying the structure
of gender relations within households." The Bank now
"support[s] member governments in designing and implementing
promising policies and programs, concentrating on the areas
where accumulated experience provides clear and unambiguous
operational direction." The Bank "is committed to integrating
gender issues into the mainstream" and to systematically addressing
gender issues in country assistance strategies as well as
in the design and implementation of its lending programs.
The institution says it wants to intensify staff training,
shift its skills mix, and commit to some degree of resource
reallocation within country departments.
So what does all this mean in real terms? According to Karen
Mason, director of Gender and Development in the Bank's Poverty
Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) Network, the Bank
has made "tremendous progress." In 2001 it undertook
to "engender development"by committing to a strategy for mainstreaming
gender in its work toward poverty alleviation and economic
growth. In dialogue with host governments, the Bank is now
obligated to conduct a gender analysis before implementing
new projects, according to Mason, who cites the example of
Vietnam, where the country gender assessment led to a Bank-funded
pilot project in which land titles held only by men were re-titled
to include women.
In 2003 the World Bank also established a "legislative
framework" for working with individual countries in order
to promote gender equality within the context of poverty reduction.
This framework calls for diagnosis, dialogue, intervention,
and annual monitoring. In some instances, there is conditionality
attached to Bank assistance; for example, a country may be
asked to increase the enrollment of girls in school before
a loan will be considered or granted. The Bank has also worked
with an external gender consultative group since 1996 and
says Mason, the institution is working closely with civil
society and academic representatives "to keep the Bank
on its toes." There is a non-governmental forum within
the Bank that partners with the United Nations to increase
collaboration. "We've made progress," Mason says,
"but we still have more to do."
Elaine Zuckerman and her colleagues are determined to see
that the Bank continues to move forward with a meaningful
gender strategy. Perhaps as an external civil society group
it will be able to move the Bank further at a time when macroeconomic
frameworks and structural adjustment just aren't enough to
truly engender development.
<back to top>
The Association for Women's Rights in Development Resource
Net Friday File
March 19, 2004
Gender Action — Structural
Adjustment's Gendered Impacts
Interviews with Elaine Zuckerman
By Janice Duddy
Interview with Elaine Zuckerman
AWID: What is the current status of Structural Adjustment
Lending (SAL) at the World Bank?
EZ: I believe structural adjustment lending is the predominant
framework for much World Bank lending today. As our paper
suggests, structural adjustment now comes in a great variety
of names. Because of this it is not always transparent or
obvious that many Bank loans that are SALs actually are.
Some of them with names like Poverty Reduction Support Credits,
Policy Support Credits, or Development Support Credits might
not necessarily be recognized by the public as structural
adjustment loans, but in fact they are SALs.
SALs pervade the entire Bank investment portfolio today.
SAL policies or measures permeate the framework of Poverty
Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) that the Bank and the IMF
require of the poorest and of most transition countries. What
used to be discrete SAL "conditionalities" now extend
to many other types of loans because of the PRSP connection.
The Bank and the Fund require PRSPs, which are national plans
with budgets, as a condition for lending to the poorest and
transition countries. Many of the loans that follow from PRSPs
are modeled on achieving SAL policy reforms.
AWID: Why has the World Bank increased its 25 percent maximum
SAL amounts? How is this impacting countries?
EZ: When we look historically at trends we can see that the
Bank began to increase SALs beyond its own 25 percent maximum
in 1998. That is exactly when both the East Asian and the
Argentine financial crises occurred. These economies dove
into recession around the same time giving the Bank an opportunity
to "come to the rescue" through SALs. SALs are created
to be very quick disbursing mechanisms that support policy
based structural adjustments of economies. Because these countries
were in dire economic situations and needed quick infusions
of cash they were very vulnerable to accepting SALs even with
their difficult conditions. The Bank offered these countries
quick disbursing SALs as opposed to the Bank's other lending
facilities providing very slow disbusing project loans. Under
these conditions, when countries badly needed injections of
cash, SALs were irresistible. However, in return countries
are expected to meet SAL conditions that are socially extremely
difficult. Our paper portrays the difficult conditions through
the examples of Serbia and Montenegro.
What we have seen since 1998 is a rapidly increasing allocation
to SALs as a proportion of total Bank lending. In Annex I
of our report we show that every year since 1997 the World
Bank has surpassed its 25% SAL limit. In 1999 and 2002 the
Bank devoted over 50% of its total loans to SALs.
Over the years, since the inception of SALs, some of us have
been complaining about the disturbing social impacts of SALs.
Throughout the 1980s SALs were disbursed with conditions that
said to governments, "you have to cut back your public
expenditures to reduce government deficits; do it wherever
you want". The first areas to get cut were the social
sectors — health, education, and water and so on. Because
SALs also required public enterprises to downsize, privatize,
or close completely, many people have lost their jobs. Also,
public sector institutions, like Ministries, have had to cut
back their spending very significantly. This has impacted
SALs have very seriously and harmfully impacted social services.
Health and education expenditures have been cutback and fees
have been imposed. These services have become unaffordable
to the poorest people who depended on these public services,
since the better-off almost everywhere use private schools
and private healthcare facilities. It is the poor people that
depend on the less fantastic, but accessible, public services.
With cutbacks or closing of public services the poor no longer
have access to them. Gendered impacts include women having
to take over previously public healthcare services and girls
being the first to be kept out of school when parents have
to pay fees. Since the mid-1990s social sectors expenditures
are supposed to be protected from SAL cutbacks but this rule
has not been consistently implemented.
Another affect of SAL cutbacks that we are hearing a lot
of complaints about today is privatization of the water sector.
Water supply is being privatized. Water, an essential need
for life, is not affordable to the poorest people who are
used to getting it free or highly subsidized. But SALs are
eliminating water subsidies in many countries.
Besides the social sectors, electricity and agricultural
are examples of other kinds of public services that are cut
back through SALs. On a continent like Africa where the vast
majority earn their living through farming with women composing
about 80% of farmers this is very significant. Previously
offered public services, such as agricultural extension services
and public supply of seeds and market space have been cut
back or eliminated by SAL measures. These kinds of public
expenditure reductions impact farming and the food supply.
Another SAL measure having a huge effect is the "liberalization"
of price regimes. Countries that had controlled prices, for
example on staple foods, have had to eliminate controlled
prices and allow prices to float to international market prices.
These international prices are just too steep for poor people
We can go sector by sector looking into the impact of SALs
and see that the negative impacts have been very deep and
AWID: What are some of the major impacts that SALs are having
on the lives of poor women?
EZ: Statistics show that in Africa about 80% of farming is
done by poor women. The kind of agricultural cutbacks talked
about above hit women farmers very seriously.
In education, when fees are imposed, girls are the first
to be held back from school. Little boys are sent to school
before their sisters, especially in traditionally patriarchal
In health service cutbacks, women have had to bear the burden
of providing healthcare services to their family members that
were previously provided by public clinics and hospitals.
When the home becomes the center of healthcare, it not only
increases women's already overloaded work burden but prevents
them from working in the market, from earning income.
In transition countries, such as Eastern and Southern Europe,
there were widespread, universal social services, like daycare.
Through SAL measures, these services are losing their public
funding. The burden falls on women to take over public daycare
functions that they had previously benefited from and that
had allowed them to spend more time in income-earning jobs.
AWID: What changes need to be made so that the World Bank
and other IFIs' loans assist rather than harm poor people,
particularly poor women?
EZ: End SALs. Development funds should support development,
not the banking industry or the WTO. Many SALs have trade
liberalization conditions that are congruent with the WTO
regime. This in itself may not be harmful if all countries
were allowed equal and free access to trade, but this is not
the case currently. The US and Europe still maintain many
subsidies and protectionist barriers. It would be much better
if the World Bank and IFI loans would not promote conditions
or policies that do not benefit developing countries.
Perhaps development aid should not be based on loans. Maybe
aid should be based on grants or some other mechanism that
do not indebt countries. Many countries are highly indebted
thanks to World Bank and other IFI lending regimes. The Word
Bank should end SALs that increasingly indebt poor and transition
countries. Because of the need to repay IFI loans of which
SALs compose a huge proportion, these loans reduce the net
flow of development aid that IFIs purport to increase. Also,
Bank and other IFI loans need to become more responsive to
local needs rather than promote their own blueprint or template
AWID: The World Bank is currently restructuring its structural
adjustment policy. Do you have a sense of what the new policy
will look like and what impact do you see it having on the
lives of women?
EZ: It appears, although I have not seen the new policy yet,
that it will weaken the opportunity to influence SALs. I understand
that the SAL policy has not yet been approved, it is now in
draft form and will be soon released for public consultation.
Some people in civil society have been able to see a draft.
What I understand from these sources is that the new policy
is likely to give the Bank more flexibility, fewer restrictions,
and less need to be accountable because the new policy is
much more amorphous and less specific than the previous one.
The previous SAL policy, which is known as Operational Directive
8.60 drafted in 1992, available on the World Bank web site,
includes environmental accountability clauses. Rumor has it
that the new proposed policy will include fewer environmental
accountability clauses than the previous version. It will
be much more difficult to specifically talk about the environment
because the new SAL policy will be much more open-ended. Instead
of SALs addressing issues like trade liberalization or privatization
as they have traditionally done, the new policy conditions
might not be so specific. The Bank might say broadly to a
client country, "Here is your rapidly disbursing money,
undertake structural adjustment, adjust your economic policies,
achieve better balance of payments". But there might
be less specificity and less opportunity for accountability.
We did talk about the Bank's 25% maximum on SALs earlier.
It is important to add that the current SAL policy specifies
that "normally" SALs should not exceed 25% globally
(there have never been any country restrictions) and it should
never exceed 30%. And yet, since 1997 the Bank has exceeded
25% annually and since 1998 it has exceeded the 30% absolute
global ceiling every year. I understand that the new policy
is considering doing away with this ceiling because the Bank
realizes it is not sticking to it.
Interview with Aleksandra Vladisavljevic
AWID: What are some of the major impacts that SAL are having
on the lives of
AV: The majority impacts we have addressed in the paper.
Generally speaking, I would say that SALs impact poor men
and women but because SALs are engaged with policy and policy
changes they impact the economy as a whole. Within the greater
economy it is minority groups, because they are in a weaker
position economically and do not have equal opportunities,
who feel the impacts of SALs most greatly.
SALs are moving countries towards a market economy, but a
market economy without a strong social welfare system. The
social welfare system is very important for women because
it provides them the social supports that allow them work
and contribute to society. These social supports under the
previous socialist system in Serbia and Montenegro included,
free access to health, education, and kindergarten. All of
these things brought many changes to society - women were
engaged in school, they were the majority of people attending
university, they were working, and they were part of society.
However, all of these social supports have been reduced in
the very poor economy that we now have in Serbia and Montenegro.
Now, we will not
able to afford to send our children to daycare, so women will
have to return home. This is totally opposite of what we,
in the feminist movement, are trying to accomplish.
AWID: What changes need to be made so that the World Bank
and other IFIs' loans assist rather than harm poor people,
particularly poor women?
AV: Because of its nature SALs are producing inequality within
society. To help reduce the preparation period of SALs should
include an impact assessment. Each policy introduced by a
SAL should be analyzed from the perspective of how this policy
will impact poor people.
It is also important to analyze how it is impacting the middle-class
in society. This is especially true in countries like Serbia
and Montenegro because the middle-class is shrinking. This
has a political impact on the democratic process because it
was the middle-class that was advocating for a democratic
society. Poor people, who were worried about finding work
supporting themselves and their family on a daily basis, could
not think about democratic systems, democracy, or laws and
policies that affected them. On the other hand, the people
who are rich do not need democratic rule because they can
pay. It was the middle-class that fought hard for democracy
and now SALs are destroying them.
It is important to analyze how policies are impacting different
groups within society. In order to do this we need to know
the socio-economic indicators of different groups in
society. Taking this into account we can examine the impact
of different policies and then propose specific policies and
measures for the mitigation of these negative consequences.
this can only happen from the perspective of the consequences
of SALs. You can not influence the causes because these policy
changes are the absolute nature of SALs.
AWID: As I understand it, by early 2003 SALs compromised
90% of total loans in Serbia and Montenegro. What has this
meant for those countries? Does this impact a government's
AV: During early stages SALs were usually given for infrastructure.
But in the last ten years they have become mainly policy-based.
This means that in order to get credits you have to do certain
things, such as opening markets and working with the monitoring
and policy controls of the IMF. All of these things affect
the sovereignty of the government. You need resources in order
to get your economy on its feet, resources must come from
the World Bank because they are the only resources available.
But credits come with conditions that are now increasingly
policy-based, they are no longer infrastructure-based. It
is a triangle between society, the wish of government, and
on the other side IFIs.
AWID: In the publication you list many gendered impacts of
SAL in Serbia and Montenegro. Which of these impacts do you
see as the most damaging? What are the first steps for making
changes in this gendered impact?
AV: The most damaging is the fact that no one, neither government
or the World Bank, take into account that there will be consequences
if they do not conduct a specific gender analysis. Also considering
the poor, the Bank and governments do not have specific analysis
of how SALs will affect them. We can look to the example of
environmental assessments at the Bank.
Environmental issues have become very important with environmental
impact assessments taking place on SALs. This is essentially
what should be done for gender.
The current state in which women are invisible within
society is most damaging. We need to put pressure on the World
Bank and the Gender Unit to make gender impact assessments
mandatory. This will in the long term solve many problems.
This should also be done by governments on the country level.
AWID: How can this knowledge and experience gained from this
detailed analysis of Serbia and Montenegro's experience with
SAL be shared and transferred to other countries?
AV: Different policy groups, government, and the World Bank
need to examine the gender impact of policy. To do this, each
country should have their own detailed analysis. I am not
in favour of a "cut and paste" strategy, even though
two countries may be very similar. What are problems in Serbia
and Montenegro may not be the same in another country. Hopefully
this report will provoke people to think about the importance
of doing their own case-specific analysis in their country.
The specific context of the SALs in Serbia and Montenegro
is that they are very interconnected, they rely on each other,
and that 90% of the total amount of loans from the World Bank
are policy-based. This is quite different from other countries.
These difference between countries and between the SALs should
be kept in mind when looking at the gender impact of policy
in individual countries.
<back to top>
How Much Sky Do Chinese Women Fill?
March 03, 2004
On March 8, 2004, International Women's Day, a large number
of Chinese newspapers printed an interview with Elaine Zuckerman
about the status of the women's movement worldwide. The original
original interview is available at:
DEVELOPMENT: Groups Prod World Bank on Gender
January 21, 2004
WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (IPS) - The World Bank needs to hire more
experts on gender equality, press borrowers to include gender
issues in its investments, and offer more incentives for its
staff to work toward eliminating gaps between men and women
worldwide, says a recent study.
It adds that the bank's 2002 'Gender Mainstreaming Strategy',
which outlines its policy towards ending gender inequality,
remains a positive work that sorely needs greater commitment
from the Washington-based bank and other development agencies.
The study, 'Reforming the World Bank: Will the New Gender
Strategy Make a Difference?', is among the first to look at
the bank's little-known gender strategy and its efforts to
put it to work.
The report does so by comparing the bank's gender activities
to its efforts to address environmental issues.
It was produced by Gender Action, a non-profit advocacy group
that lobbies multilateral banks to give greater assistance
to women in developing countries, and China Women's Health
These groups say they want to see women and men participate
in and benefit equally from multilateral investments, the
largest public source of development financing in the world.
Gender Action says programmes sponsored by development banks
and funds, such as privatisation of state-owned
enterprises, rural development and agriculture, and water
and sanitation projects, tend to overlook gender gaps or fail
to ensure that women's needs are considered, although 70 percent
of the world's poor are women.
The study, commissioned by Germany's Heinrich Boell Foundation,
demonstrates the little attention the issue gets from the
It says the number of gender experts in the institution has
grown from only 1 in 1977 to some 115 today, while the team
of environmental experts rose from 1 in the early 1980s to
roughly more than 700.
Thus, environmental experts constitute roughly seven percent
of bank staff and consultants, while those working in gender
represent less than one percent, the report concludes.
At the same time, it adds, the core team of 10-12 workers
in the World Bank's gender unit has expanded little since
The majority of the bank's 115 "gender experts"
are country-based employees who add responsibility for gender
issues to other demanding tasks.
The report adds that while it is compulsory for bank staff
to examine the possible environmental impact of every operation,
there is no such rule for gender.
"Although environment issues are still not addressed
satisfactorily, they receive much deeper attention than do
gender gaps," it says.
The vast majority of bank staff that do not work directly
on gender issues have never heard of the gender strategy nor
looked at the bank's web pages that provide tools for "engendering"
investments and other activities.
According to the report, those employees say they lack the
time and incentives to examine the material, and feel overwhelmed
by the proliferating number of bank strategies -- about 15
-- and an ever-growing list of institutional priorities.
The small amount -- 600,000 dollars -- that the bank spent
on an incentive fund to implement its gender strategy in 2002
reflects the low priority the issue commands among bank priorities,
The World Bank invests roughly 18 billion dollars annually.
According to a case study in the report on China, the bank's
largest client in terms of loans and population, no World
Bank activity in the country "seriously addresses gender
gaps, despite the timely availability of the 'China Country
The report says the bank's poverty reduction projects in China
neglect major gender issues, such as the feminisation of poverty
and agriculture, the exploding rate of trafficking in poor
rural women and girls and the fact that these groups have
the world's highest female suicide rate.
A bank official says the report is factually correct but that
it addresses these issues out of context.
"If the bank was about doing work on gender as a primary
goal, it would probably be right on target. But that's not
the case à it's an issue of being out of context vis-à-vis
whatever else the bank is doing," added the official,
who asked to remain unnamed.
It is easier for both the bank and borrowing countries to
work on environmental issues, for example, than on gender
issues, which require strong will from a borrowing government
to overcome such things as cultural sensitivities, added the
"It's much easier for a government in country X to accept
that it has to be careful with the environment, with the air
or with water than it is that they should give more rights
The bank official said other parties, like the World Bank's
donor countries, are responsible because they are devoting
fewer resources to gender issues.
Gender Action President Elaine Zuckerman countered the official's
The report, she told IPS, "is not out of context because
our particular framework was to evaluate the bank strategy;
it wasn't to check out the donor context".
"They (bank officials) have been trying to win the hearts
and the minds of staff on gender equality, or gender mainstreaming
as the bank calls it, but it's always been through a hearts-and-minds
strategy and not through mandates, like (for) the environment,"
added Zuckerman. (END/2004)
<back to top>
The Association for Women's Rights in Development
Resource Net Friday File
Friday, November 22, 2002
Interview By Janice Duddy
Note that the paragraph on Women's Eyes on the World Bank
has been updated from the original.
How is Gender Action advocating for gender in the multilateral
An interview with Elaine Zuckerman from Gender Action, a newly
established organization that is promoting a campaign to promote
women's rights and gender equality within the World Bank,
International Monetary Fund, and other multilateral development
Could you briefly describe the work of Gender Action?
Gender Action is a new advocacy campaign that was established
in 2002 to promote women's rights and gender equality in large
international investments in developing and transition countries,
which from now on I will call developing countries. Gender
Action aims to ensure that women and men equally participate
in and benefit from multilateral investments which are the
largest public source of development financing in the world.
Gender Action has various strategies to undertake this advocacy
including first of all and primarily partnering with southern
civil society groups (mostly women's groups but they could
be others) to convince their governments to mainstream gender
concerns into multilateral investments in their countries.
Secondly, Gender Action tries to persuade donor governments
to hold multilaterals accountable on gender and has been doing
this by partnering with international citizen groups. Notably
in Gender Action's first year of existence it was a founding
member of an unprecedented coalition called the Coalition
for World Bank Reform established in 2002 with about 30 international
non-profits participating. The third strategy for Gender Action
is monitoring and reporting on multilateral progress in mainstreaming
gender. What I see as the fourth strategy is conducting gender
advocacy directly on the multilaterals. I think that is the
most challenging of all of the strategies because it is very
difficult to get managers and staff inside of the multilaterals
to directly listen to outsiders since there are strong incentives
to respond to the inside.
Gender Action is focusing its gender advocacy mainly around
the multilateral development banks. But, it is also trying
to ensure other institutions working within developing countries,
including citizen organizations working on the environment,
labour, and debt cancellation address gender gaps and promote
women's rights in their work as well. I just mentioned to
you the Coalition for World Bank Reform. It has in it many
different environmental groups, such as Friends of the Earth,
Environmental Defense; it includes the AFL-CIO, Oxfam, CARE,
Catholic Relief Services, Jubilee 2000, etc. Without making
it an explicit goal of Gender Action, I have been trying to
convince them in our meetings to promote women's rights in
Gender Action was just established this year, why do
you feel it was important to establish this organization at
I feel that it was important to establish Gender Action now
because in 2000 I had the opportunity to review World Bank
investments across sectors around the world for their attention
to gender issues. My finding was that the large investments,
for example structural adjustment and privatization of state
owned enterprises; rural development and agriculture; infrastructure
of all kinds like water and sanitation, transport, and telecom
neglect gender gaps and gendered needs and make little attempt
to improve women's livelihoods or to ensure that women's rights
are achieved even though women compose 70% of the world's
poor. The poor are supposed to be the development targets
of the World Bank and the other multilateral development banks.
My 2000 review was not confined to document analysis. I also
interviewed a large number of Bank mangers and staff. One
key managerial group I interviewed were the seven Chief Economists
in the World Bank. Each World Bank region has a Chief Economist
in addition to the IFC Chief Economist. I tried to assess
their views about the importance of gender issues in their
work, especially in their macroeconomic initiatives. By the
way the Bank's regional Chief Economists play very key roles
in Bank decision-making, sitting at the Vice-Presidential
level and they head the regional Poverty Reduction and Economic
Management teams. A couple of the Chief Economists were quite
aware of gender gaps, several were mildly aware, but one of
the regional Chief Economists told me that he had no time
for gender issues because his region has much more pressing
concerns to address such as macroeconomic imbalances, depreciating
currencies, and bank and enterprise closings. He seemed exasperated
when I pointed out the gendered impacts of these issues and
politely ushered me across the hall to speak to a 'lady' who
would be more interested in gender issues. Because of this
kind of thinking in the World Bank I think it is extremely
timely to launch Gender Action's advocacy campaign now.
Here is another interview example of why to launch Gender
Action now that arose when I interviewed a senior professional
Bank staff who had worked for many years for the Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA) and who has worked
for the Bank for several years. He felt shocked by the patriarchal
mindset that he found in the World Bank compared to CIDA.
He attributed this to the fact that you had staff from the
world over who come to the Bank with these patriarchal mindsets
and don't have the same kind of gender orientation and gender
training that CIDA requires for all staff and managers. So
you can see why Gender Action is needed now and has been needed
for so long.
What do you see are the fundamental changes that need
to be made within the World Bank and other multilateral development
bank (MDB) structures with regards to gender?
Continuing on the previous thread, I think that we need to
change the mindset of staff. Except for the relatively small
number of gender experts inside the MDBs committed to mainstreaming
gender within their MDB work, most MDB staff neglect gender
issues and many staff feel that addressing gender gaps and
promoting women's rights are irrelevant to development and
economic growth. I recently spoke to a World Bank country
economist before I visited a transition country to ask her
for some material on what they have done on gender and she
just had nothing to say perhaps because she has never considered
I think that MDBs need to embrace the importance of women's
rights from scratch. Human rights have hardly been introduced
into the MDB economic framework. It needs to become second
nature for Bank staff to automatically identify and devise
strategies to address gender gaps and to promote women's rights
in all projects. We are very far from that goal right now.
How would you see the impact of multilateral development
bank investments changing if gender was adequately considered?
All other things being equal, adequately considering gender
in MDB investments should result in less poverty in the world.
This expectation is based on the World Bank's own compelling
research, for example demonstrated in "Engendering Development"
which correlates less poverty and greater economic growth
with fewer gender gaps in countries worldwide. So, if MDBs
targeted poor men and women according to their needs we would
expect that poverty levels would decline, an objective that
has eluded the development community. Also, poverty, which
needs to disappear, would stop becoming increasingly feminized.
What are Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and
why has this been an important focus for Gender Action?
In 1999 both the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund launched PRSPs in response to civil society demands to
reduce the unsustainable debt that poor developing countries'
owe to the multilateral financial institutions. Initially
required for the most indebted countries, now the Bank and
the Fund have introduced PRSPs into other developing countries.
Other aid agencies are also using PRSPs to determine their
assistance strategies. These agencies include the regional
development banks, most bilateral aid agencies, some large
international civil society groups, and so on.
What has happened is that PRSPs have become really important
in the Bank and the Fund lending process. The Bank and the
Fund used to play a role in preparing Poverty Framework Papers
(PFPs) that were prerequisites for Bank and Fund lending.
Now PRSPs have replaced them but they are supposed to be prepared
in a different way than PFPs. PRSPs are supposed to be country-owned,
addressing both government and also broad civil society interests
that are supposed to be solicited through a participatory
process. Those characteristics have been realized to varying
extents in various countries. Some countries feel very cynical
about PRSPs thinking that they don't really represent their
interests. Because PRSPs have come to play a critical role
in country eligibility for multilateral investments and in
national planning and budgeting, Gender Action has made PRSPs
an initial major gender mainstreaming target.
Just saying a little more about the role of PRSPs in national
planning and budgeting, if you look at PRSPs, as I have, you
will see that they look just like national plans. They have
replaced what have traditionally been the national plans of
countries. All countries prepare 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 year national
plans, identifying and prioritizing sectors for investments
and including budgets. Well PRSPs do exactly that, they look
exactly like national plans and that is what they have become,
de facto national plans. Few PRSPs have paid attention to
gender issues or have promoted women's rights. They have been
incredibly neglectful. I only know of one PRSP that has done
a fairly good job of mainstreaming gender issues, and that
How has the work of Gender Action been received thus
far by the multilateral development banks?
Gender Action has actually been welcomed by the multilateral
development banks. The head of one regional development bank
gender unit is a veteran women's rights promoter who worked
for a couple of decades in non-profit women's groups. She
said to me that Gender Action's external pressure is needed
more then ever because previous attention to gender issues
in her bank has been eroded. I was inadvertently inspired
to establish Gender Action during a discussion with Karen
Mason, the Head of the World Bank Gender Board, when she pointed
out that a key reason for the mandatory environmental impact
analyses of every MDB investment, for the huge core of environmental
experts, and for the extensive institutional structures devoted
to the environment in the Bank was the relentless, external
environmental advocacy campaign that was begun in the 1980s.
Although implementation is imperfect, the environmental campaign
was very effective. But there has been no counterpart external
campaign for gender we concluded. In this discussion a light
bulb flashed in my head that I had to establish the external
gender advocacy campaign that is needed to complement the
internal pressure that the internal gender units are undertaking
within the Bank. The internal units are very constrained in
how much they can accomplish although they are trying very
hard to ensure that gender is accounted for in all Bank work.
They themselves feel that they need complementary external
Women's Eyes on the World Bank was established exactly for
this same reason, as an external advocacy campaign on the
World Bank at the 1995 Beijing Fourth World Conference of
Women. Women’s Eyes was composed of a network of women's
advocates working in various non-profit organizations in Latin
America and the US. During its initial years, Women's Eyes
monitored World Bank progress toward implementing the Beijing
Platform for Action and undertook powerful advocacy promoting
World Bank mandates to analyze gender and mainstream gender
equality in all operations and policies. However, by the late
1990s, Women’s Eyes - US petered out because its most
active members transferred to demanding jobs with different
interests. The Latin American chapter remained active until
recently and is interested in continuing its advocacy. Gender
Action is building on and deepening Women's Eyes' efforts
to make the multilaterals accountable for gender. Because
Gender Action has been established as an organization dedicated
solely to doing multilateral gender advocacy, it will by definition
sustain its campaign to ensure multilateral investments promote
women's rights and gender equality.
How could women's organizations more effectively influence
the World Bank and other multilateral development banks?
I feel that as many possible women's organizations in developing
and developed countries need to get on board in multilateral
development bank gender advocacy. I was really pleased for
example to see that AWID was getting involved with this gender
advocacy work because AWID is such a powerful organization
reaching so many interests worldwide. A key element of the
persistent environmental campaign has been numbers and partnerships
so I welcome as many as possible women's organizations to
get involved with this gender advocacy campaign on the multilaterals.
Women's organizations need to analyse bank projects in their
countries and publicize how the majority of poor, usually
women, are not being targeted. They need to show how women
should participate in multilateral project identification,
design, and implementation and facilitate that process in
<back to top>
Friday, November 22 2002
Attracting entrepreneurs to the good cause
Non-profit groups can be just as demanding of business skills
and competitiveness as their for-profit counterparts
The do-good world of non-profit organisations is hardly a
snake pit ofcut-throat competition, but these days its champions
must possess as muchnerve, foresight and entrepreneurial ability
as their for-profitcounterparts.
Elaine Zuckerman already knew that when she began studying
for her thirdgraduate degree and entered the International
Executive MBA programme atGeorgetown University in 1997.
Intrepid and cerebral (she studied in China during the Cultural
Revolution), she worked for multilateral development banks
for 20 years, becoming an authority on gender equality and
its correlation with sound development policies. She shifted
her career path after seeing little progress on women's rights
programmes in the development banks. In June, she launched
Gender Action, a non-profit advocacy group, to lobby banks
over providing greater assistance to women in developing countries.
"There is widespread demoralisation among staff working
in big bureaucracies. [Bureaucracy] stifles creative energy,"
she says. "The most important, creative social change
is coming out of the non-profit sector, not official aid agencies."
The non-profit sector is also attracting new interest from
commercial managers and executives. According to the Association
of Executive Search Consultants, "hectic and stressful
lifestyles" are drawing business talent to "meaningful,
mission- driven work". But it warns executives against
assuming that leading a non-profit businessis simple. "Non-profits
face their own stresses, with fund-raising at theforefront."
About 10 per cent of the US workforce is now employed in
the non-profit sector, which spends about $552bn annually,
according to Alejandro Amezcua of the National Council of
About 1.6m organisations have been granted tax-exempt status
by the Internal Revenue Service. Half of these are based on
religions. About 70 per cent of all non-profit employees are
women, who often transfer into paid positions from volunteering.
The sector's most visible need is for professional fundraisers.
The stockmarket collapse has diminished the assets of many
endowments and foundations that support non-profit organisations.
A survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy of the largest grant-makers
found that more than 100 had to reduce giving in 2001. Anecdotal
evidence suggests the situation has worsened in 2002. Scandals
surrounding a few charitable organisations have also taken
Contributions from individual Americans are the lowest since
levels ofgiving were first recorded, the Chronicle says. "Respondents'
primaryreason for dropping a non-profit group was a perceived
lack oftrustworthiness," according to its most recent
The biggest problem is not getting people to give but getting
people to ask," says Robert Zimmerman, a San Francisco-based
non-profit group consultant. "Some people think because
they are doing good work, the money should pour through the
"When Ms Zuckerman decided to set up her own shop, she
could not foresee the funding challenges. She is keeping Gender
Action afloat with the proceeds of consultancy contracts she
receives from other more established non-profit groups. She
is also searching for a wealthy benefactor.
While funding is drying up, charities are finding their services
more in demand as the economy languishes. President George
W.Bush is asking non-profit groups to expand their roles in
civic life.The sector is facing other challenges. Some states
and localities are talking about imposing new taxes on non-profit
groups. State budget cuts have cost them many of the contracts
they receive to carry on their work.
Established NGOs have found that to keep their doors open
they must focuson business as intently as they do on causes.
They are seeking financial experts for their boards and luring
executives from the business world.
Although executive pay for non-profit bodies lags behind
the business sector, it is rising faster. According to the
Chronicle, the heads of the biggest foundations received more
than double the raises given their business counterparts last
year. Some of the largest non-profits offer chief executives
up to $400,000.
A squeeze on funding is pushing establishment business ventures
to fund goodworks. Bill Drayton of Ashoka, a global network
promoting "social entrepreneurship", foresees structural
changes in the social sector and a takeover of many functions
by independent, competitive citizens' organisations. He predicts
"the emergence of hybrid and entirely new institutions
to address societal needs". And he predicts "a floodtide
of superb new careers".
Some of these new careers will be in the growing non-profit
services sector. Mr Zimmerman's Zimmerman Lehman, provides
assistance in fundraising, training, marketing, planning and
Several foundations are funding management expertise programmes
for non-profit grantees in the hope of stretching their investments.
Accordingto Mr Amezcua, non-profits are partnering more, with
one another and with business, to raise cash or produce operating
Not all non-profit groups are starving, particularly if their
issues are hot. Kathleen Newland, formerly with the Carnegie
Endowment, co-founded the Migration Policy Institute with
a colleague last year to study the movement of people worldwide.
With a start-up grant from the Ford Foundation, she won other
funding from the European Union, Greece, Italy, Mexico and
theUK. In a suite of colourful offices in Washington,
the staff has grown to 21- counting three interns. The institute
is advising the Greek government- which holds the EU presidency
next year - and wants to make migration a signature issue.
"If you are interested in human issues, there is not
an awful lot going on in the for-profit sector," says
Ms Newland. "There is a whole range of issues that business
does not address.
"Ms Zuckerman had some good news when she held her first
full board meeting last week in a borrowed conference room.
Gender Action had won its first project grant. It is only
$10,000 but she saw it as a sign that schmoozing with potential
donors was starting to pay off at last.
The next day she was called and told the funding might be
in jeopardy. But she is pressing on. "Everyone tells
me I'm doing everything I have to do to make this work,"
she says, as she prepares to lunch with another donor prospect.
<back to top>
Oxfam Great Britain's Gender and Development Newsletter
Targeting the top: Gender in the Rwanda PRSP
The Rwanda PRSP differs from the vast majority in that it
fairly well mainstreams gender analysis throughout the document.
This was very much the result of a deliberate strategy to
target key personnel in Government responsible for producing
Although Rwanda’s Interim PRSP, like other countries’,
gave only cursory attention to gender, this was accepted as
a deficiency by the Ministry of Finance’s National Poverty
Reduction Programme (NPRP) staff in charge of preparing
the document. The result was a political commitment
to make stronger efforts to address gender in the full PRSP.
At the same time the Ministry of Gender in Rwanda has strong,
committed leadership that has benefited from considerable
donor support and assistance. It contains core staff
who do excellent policy and advocacy work. They work
very closely with their counterparts in civil society, notably
with Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe, an umbrella group of women’s
Following the disappointing coverage of gender in the IPRSP,
the Ministry of Gender decided to form a more effective gender
mainstreaming strategy to promote an engendered PRSP.
This involved contracting the services of an external gender
expert a year before the PRSP was finalized, who together
with the Ministry and civil society developed and implemented
a three stage mainstreaming strategy.
The first stage involved developing an in-depth critique of
the IPRSP from a gender perspective and suggesting detailed
engendering tools and monitoring indicators for every issue
in every chapter. For example, the critique noted the
poverty chapter’s description of a household survey
underway failed to mention the need for sex-disaggregated
data. It proposed ensuring the household survey collects
such data. Another example is the critique demonstrated
that the legal and prudential framework section of the enabling
environment chapter did not mention gender issues. It
recommended that the PRSP discuss the gendered impacts of
Rwanda’s new law on matrimonial, inheritance and property
rights as well as of other laws.
The second stage was a series of meetings with key stakeholders
including members of the PRSP writing group, aimed to generate
their buy in to the importance of mainstreaming gender.
These meetings culminated in a workshop which brought together
all of those responsible for preparing the document and other
stakeholders. The workshop was opened and closed by
the Ministers of Finance and Gender, and received a lot of
press coverage ensuring increased political will. In
content it was very practical, and used a teamwork exercise
based on the previous critique to analyse the gender-devoid
IPRSP contents sector by sector. These included among
others poverty and vulnerability, macroeconomics, debt, privatisation,
agriculture, water and sanitation, health, education, justice
and the police. Using practical tools participant teams
formulated recommendations on how to engender the PRSP text.
The third and final stage was the setting up of an inter-agency
‘PRSP Engendering Committee’ to promote gender
mainstreaming. The committee contained pivotal stakeholders
in the process, including the Director of the PRSP writing
team, a Ministry of Gender department director and representatives
of civil society. This committee had responsibility
to review and comment on PRSP drafts and ensure gender was
The final Rwandan PRSP is indeed a lot more gender sensitive
and aware than the majority of existing PRSP documents, and
the Rwanda experience demonstrates the importance of carefully
targeting key stakeholders including those responsible for
writing the document (who are generally men and rarely gender
aware). This strategic targeting had a lot more impact
on the finished product, and stands in contrast to other countries
where there was much discussion of gender during the participatory
discussions that failed to make it into the final document.
Also see Gender Action papers on PRSPs and gender on the Publications
<back to top>
Oxfam Great Britain's Gender and Development Newsletter
Mainstreaming Gender in Advocacy Work on PRSPs
Advocacy work on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs)
has become an important Oxfam strategy for reducing poverty.
It is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future, given
that PRSPs have become mandatory in legitimising borrowing
from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Oxfam's main strategy has been to influence participatory
processes, increasing the involvement of civil society organisations,
and inviting inputs from a broad spectrum of civil society
voices. In many countries women have played important roles
in the consultative process and issues of gender equality
have been raised and discussed. However, civil society submissions
on gender equality issues have not influenced PRSP content
significantly. In future, Oxfam plans to expand its PRSP work
by trying to ensure that gender equality issues are fully
integrated into PRSP content, budgets and implementation.
The report identifies three impediments to engendering PRSP
- Policy evaporation: PRSPs have failed to integrate gender
because of the widespread stakeholder assumption that the
involvement of women, and consideration of gender equality
issues in participatory processes, would feed into PRSPs.
With this belief, Oxfam invested heavily to ensure participatory
processes became gender-inclusive, and highlighted key gender
issues. But PRSP writing teams have hardly paid attention
to participatory inputs.
- Conceptual confusion: Most PRSPs produced to date apply
an obsolete women in development (WID) approach. They mention
a few female problems in isolation, such as girls not attending
school, women's reproductive health problems, and domestic
violence. They do not apply a gender and development (GAD)
approach, which would reveal inequalities between women
and men, and propose solutions to eliminate these inequalities.
- Staffing and culture: According to country-level managers,
insufficient staff capacity on gender and cultural barriers
to gender mainstreaming are key elements which hinder Oxfam's
work. Some staff falsely believe their countries have achieved
gender equality because they have anti-discrimination laws,
and women's associations.
This Links article summarizes some of the findings presented
in, "Evaluation of Gender Mainstreaming in Advocacy Work
on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs)".
The full paper, prepared for Oxfam, Great Britain, 2002, is
available of the Publications page.
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