PROGRAMS & THEMES: Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity
Gender Action launched our new project on gender and food insecurity during the annual World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring meetings in April of 2011, highlighting how IFI investments in agriculture, nutrition and rural development often exacerbate food insecurity in developing countries, and how women and girls disproportionately suffer harmful impacts.
Our primer "Gender, IFIs, and Food Insecurity" explores IFI-related causes and gender-specific impacts of recent soaring food prices. Demonstrating that IFI-led agriculture, macroeconomic, financial and trade policies in developing countries intensify gender inequalities and disproportionately impoverish women and girls, this primer recommends targeted actions IFIs must take to address the disproportionately negative impact of food insecurity on women and girls.
Our first case study on Ethiopia applies our Essential Gender Analysis Checklist to four active World Bank investments that focus on agriculture, land management and nutrition, and finds that not one of these projects embraces a gender rights perspective or analyzes differential impacts on men and women, boys and girls. Following our analysis, the case study provides targeted actions IFIs must take to address the disproportionately negative impact of food insecurity on women and girls, as well as recommendations for the G20 and civil society organizations to pressure IFIs to promote gender-equitable investments.
Gender Action's second food insecurity case study examines the degree of gender sensitivity in World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) investments in Haitian agriculture and rural development. Rural women, who constitute the majority of Haiti's small-scale and subsistence farmers, face significant gender discrimination in the agriculture sector. They also suffer disproportionately from rising food prices and increasing food insecurity. Our gender analysis shows that World Bank and IDB investments lack a human rights perspective and pay inadequate attention to gender inequalities that could hinder women and girls' ability to participate in and benefit from project activities. The case study also presents recommendations for IFIs, the G20 and civil society to promote women's rights and gender justice in Haiti's IFI agriculture and rural development investments.
Gender Action's food insecurity case study Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Kenya examines the role of women in current IFI agricultural investments in Kenya. Applying Gender Action's Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers, the case analyzes the extent to which three World Bank and two African Development Bank (AfDB) projects in Kenya fulfill the banks' commitments to address gender issues and promote gender equality. Although seventy percent of Kenya's farmers are female, the projects analyzed by Gender Action in this case mostly lack a gender rights perspective and pay inadequate attention to gender inequalities that hinder women and girls' ability to access project benefits. Commendably, one project promotes gender integration, collects sex-disaggregated data and facilitates women's participation throughout the project cycle, but the other four projects, by failing to do so, perpetuate women's marginalization in an industry for which they provide the majority of labor. These investments, made in the form of loans, further indebt a country already suffering from decades of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment policies, which have undermined Kenya's female-driven agricultural markets and exacerbated food insecurity. Gender Action's analysis concludes with targeted actions for IFIs to address the disproportionately negative impact of food insecurity on women and girls, and redress their gender-insensitive agricultural investments in Kenya.
Gender Action's new Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Zambia, examines the extent to which the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) fulfill their commitment to address gender inequalities and reduce malnutrition - an issue that disproportionately affects Zambian women and children. Since the 1980s, IFIs, including the World Bank, have contributed to Zambia's food insecurity by pushing the government to adopt agriculture trade liberalization, privatization of agriculture enterprises and services, and removal of government fertilizer subsidies and price controls. These measures have reduced incomes of Zambian subsistence farmers, the majority of whom are women. This case study applies Gender Action's Essential Gender Checklist to two active World Bank and two active and one completed African Development Bank (AfDB) agriculture projects in Zambia to assess the extent to which the IFIs fulfills their commitment to address gender issues, promote gender equality, and reduce malnutrition. The case study demonstrates that overall, both the World Bank and AfDB do not approach food security from a women's or human rights perspective. Neither addresses gender inequality in Zambian agriculture nor adequately measure women's project participation, access to project benefits, and projects' differential impacts on men and women, boys and girls.