Website content and publications may be cited or reproduced as long as Gender Action is credited as the source.

Irene Tinker and Elaine Zuckerman
Women’s Economic Roles and the Development Paradigm

A chapter in International Development: Ideas, Experience, and Prospects.
Oxford University Press, 2014. Edited by Bruce Currie-Alder, Ravi Kanbur, David M. Malone, and Rohinton Medhora.

For over fifty years, women’s organizations have challenged the development paradigm, influenced development agencies to include women’s concerns, and formed a global social movement that has altered gender relations throughout the world. Activists argued that many development programs have adversely impacted women. Altered household structures drew greater attention to gender relationships. Demands for women’s social and civil rights questioned the patriarchal structure of society. Today development agencies speak of equality; activists work to ensure that gender justice rhetoric is matched by expenditures, and by greater women’s political power, representation and rights.
IMF & Gender: a long way to go

In this Bretton Woods Project brief Elaine Zuckerman assesses the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Discussion Note,  Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity (WWE). This best IMF gender-focused report to date shows that the IMF has a long way to go to realize gender justice. WWE promotes an  instrumentalist strategy that upholds women s employment as an instrument to boost economic growth. It needs to complementarily promote women s and men s equal rights -- a key women s movement demand to end patriarchal patterns and feminization of poverty propelled by IMF structural adjustment loans. Maria Karamessinini s box demonstrates how Greece s IMF austerity program negatively impacts women. See the IMF & Gender's recommendations! The World Bank and women's unpaid care work in select sub-Saharan African countries

With the aim of reducing women's greater unpaid care work than men's and increasing women's paid employment, this paper examines the extent to which World Bank investments address unpaid care work. The paper conducts an in-depth gender analysis of 36 World Bank employment-related projects in Malawi, Mali, Niger, and Rwanda. It concludes that the vast majority (92 per cent) of reviewed projects fail to account for unpaid care work.

Exceptionally, Malawi's Shire River Basin Management Program and Niger's Community Action Program target women's needs as caretakers. But most reviewed projects do not address unpaid care work. Doing so would improve economic and human development and gender justice.

Building Back by Half? Gender Issues in IFI Investments in Post-Earthquake Haiti

This comprehensive advocacy report assesses IFI investments' gender sensitivity following the devastating January 2010 earthquake that caused around US$ 8 billion in damages. The World Bank committed US$ 667 million to Haiti for 21 projects from January 12, 2012 through August 2013. The Inter–American Development Bank (IDB) committed nearly double that amount – over US$ 1 billion – across 151 projects in that period. Gender Action assessed a sample of IFI projects' gender sensitivity. The report finds a spotty record for both institutions in 'mainstreaming' gender into their operations – from project planning, to implementation, to monitoring and evaluation. Since both women and men must play an essential role if reconstruction is to succeed, the report concludes with recommendations for increasing projects gender sensitivity. Gender Action's accompanying Database of IFI Post–Earthquake Haiti Investments contains financial and other data about the over 170 investments approved by the World Bank, IDB and IMF.

Caracol Industrial Park: Social and Gender Impacts of Year One of Haiti's Newest IFI-funded Industrial Park

Officially open for business since October 2012, Caracol Industrial Park (PIC) is expected to become Haiti's largest private employer and foreign investor. US$ 424 million in development aid from donors including the IDB and the US government have been committed to the Park and ten related projects. Women are expected to make up the majority of the anticipated 65,000-strong, mostly apparel assembly workforce.

This Gender Action report presents a snapshot of the Park's impacts on local residents and women in particular in its first year. Gender Action's Claire Lauterbach spent two weeks with research assistants Isabelle Théosmy and Falonne Conte from the State University of Haiti conducting interviews and site visits in and around PIC. While full PIC impacts can only be assessed after several years, PIC has not lived up to many of its preliminary promises. Although PIC has led to several infrastructural changes like electricity and job creation that area residents generally perceived positively, on balance, life has not much changed. The report highlights critical issues including: working conditions and salaries, the continued displacement of land-users from PIC grounds and other effects on area residents, particularly women. The report concludes with recommendations for making PIC truly benefit Haitians.

Updated: Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers

Gender Action provides a vital and user friendly toolkit for civil society groups to incorporate gender perspectives into their work on the IFIs or any other projects. All sections contain electronic hyperlinks to a vast array of available gender resources. Just click on an underlined word to be directed to the specific tool you need!

Gender Toolkit for International Finance Watchers in English.

Boîte à outils sur le genre pour observateurs des Institutions Financières Internationales en français.

Herramientas de Género para Observadores Financieros Internacionales en Español.

Gender Action: Holding International Financial Institutions to Account: Ten Critical Achievements in Ten Years (2002-2012)

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

How Do IFI Gender Policies Stack Up?
Sarah Bibler
April 2013

Gender Action is often asked: Which International Financial Institution (IFI) has the strongest gender policy and/or strategy?

To answer this question, this paper compares and ranks IFI gender policies and/or strategies based on IFIs' published information.

Assessing the Effectiveness of World Bank Investments: The Gender Dimension
Claire Lauterbach and Elaine Zuckerman
March 2013

Although it is widely acknowledged that increasing the gender sensitivity of development aid increases its effectiveness, gender issues are usually inadequately addressed in World Bank investments and policy and strategy mechanisms. This is highlighted in a new Gender Action - United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) working paper entitled, "Assessing the Effectiveness of World Bank Investments: The Gender Dimension."

In this paper, Gender Action's Claire Lauterbach and Elaine Zuckerman evaluate the extent to which the World Bank integrates gender concerns in three sectors - 'agriculture and rural development'; 'sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS'; and 'conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction' - and in several policy and strategy mechanisms. The paper concludes that the Bank only superficially includes women's concerns in its investments and policy and strategy mechanisms. It provides recommendations for making Bank investments and policy and strategy mechanisms responsive to women's needs and rights.

Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Malawi
Claire Lauterbach and Isabel Matenje
February 2013

Women, over 70 percent of Malawi's agricultural workforce, are the backbone of Malawi's agriculture sector and central to Malawi's economy. But according to Gender Action research, IFI-financed agriculture projects in the country address gender issues inconsistently and risk undermining Malawi's food security.

Gender Action's new "Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Malawi" examines the five World Bank (WB) and African Development Bank (AfDB) investments active in early 2013. We find that though most projects identify gender issues and some have percentage participation targets for women, they frequently lack sex-disaggregated evaluation data and rarely contain project measures that address gender inequalities. Our recommendations include promoting and implementing women's full and equal participation in project design and implementation, in line with the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and National Gender Program, and designing and collecting sex-disaggregated data to measure projects' gender impacts. The success of these projects depends on IFIs addressing women's concerns and ensuring that they benefit from IFI agriculture investments.

Towards Food Security and Resilience in Haitian Agriculture: A Call to Action
Gender Action and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG)
November 2012

Food insecurity, exacerbated by two recent disastrous storms and a long period of drought, threatens the fragile progress achieved in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. It is now is a decisive time for the donor community to refocus its agriculture and food security policies and help the Government of Haiti implement programs that mitigate the impact of natural disasters on Haitian agriculture and meet the food security needs of the nearly 2 million Haitian children, women and families who are going hungry in Haiti today. This call to action, compiled by Gender Action and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, makes policy and program implementation recommendations to both the international donor community and the Haitian government, to begin the process of rebuilding that vital sector to Haiti's reconstruction and development.

From Ignorance to Inclusion: Gender-Responsive Multilateral Adaptation Investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region
Liane Schalatek (Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America), Sarah Little, Sarah Bibler & Celine Salcedo-La Vina
November 2012

Gender Action and the Heinrich Böll Foundation's newly released report "From Ignorance to Inclusion: Gender-Responsive Multilateral Adaptation Investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region" exposes women's persistent marginalization from climate adaptation projects. Across the MENA region, where women already suffer from social and political exclusion, climate change is expected to further exacerbate existing gender inequalities. Despite this, our report finds that multilateral development investments, like those of the World Bank, have not prioritized gender-sensitivity in adaptation projects.

Based on in-depth gender analysis of all of the active multilateral climate change adaptation-related projects in the MENA region, the report finds that too often these investments view women as passive victims of climate change, ignoring their extensive expertise and agency in adaptation activities. This both compromises women's human rights and undermines the effectiveness of climate smart projects. The report recommends that multilateral investments integrate gender dimensions and promote women's involvement as leaders in climate change adaptation and environmental management. "Ignorance to Inclusion" reinforces Gender Action and the Heinrich Böll Foundation's efforts to promote women's full, consistent and meaningful participation in climate change investments.

Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Zambia
Sarah Bibler and Claire Lauterbach
October 2012

Gender Action's new Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity Case Study: Zambia, examines the extent to which the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) fulfill their commitment to address gender inequalities and reduce malnutrition - an issue that disproportionately affects Zambian women and children.

Banking on Health: World Bank and African Development Bank Spending on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa
Claire Lauterbach
October 2012

Based on fieldwork in Cameroon and Uganda, 'Banking on Health' reviews World Bank and AfDB projects to highlight how good quality matters as much as high quantity in reproductive and sexual health and HIV/AIDS spending.

A database containing comprehensive information about World Bank and AfDB investments (2000-2012) addressing reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan African countries accompanies the report.

Haiti's National Housing Policy: Will it Work for Women?
Claire Lauterbach
September 2012

Gender Action's new case study, Haiti's National Housing Policy: Will it Work for Women? demonstrates that the Haitian government's World Bank-supported draft National Housing Policy risks burdening the poor, especially women, with expensive and unobtainable housing by relying on private solutions. The case study concludes with recommendations for strengthening the Policy to ensure that projects are affordable and accessible to all, especially the 1.5 million Haitians that remain displaced, almost three years after the January 2010 earthquake.

This case study is also available in French: La Politique Nationale du Logement: Aidera-t-elle les Haïtiennes?

The World Bank & Gender Based Violence Case Study: the Democratic Republic of Congo
Elizabeth Arend & Julie Ajinkya
November 2011

Gender-based violence (GBV) has reached epidemic proportions after more than a decade of violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the DRC's mineral-rich eastern region, where militia groups use rape as a weapon to control the lucrative supply of coltan, tungsten, tin ore, tantalum, diamonds and gold. In addition to numerous human rights and development organizations, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)-a global system that uses voluntary global standards to monitor oil, gas and mining sector management-confirmed that GBV is widespread in the DRC's mining regions in 2010. The World Bank & Gender Based Violence Case Study: the Democratic Republic of Congo assesses the extent to which WB extractive industry investments in the DRC address GBV.

IFIs and Gender Based Violence Case Study Haiti
Elizabeth Arend
March 2012

To commemorate International Women's Day 2012, Gender Action prepared this IFIs and Gender Based Violence Case Study that analyzes the extent to which World Bank and IDB shelter, sanitation and electricity investments address GBV in Haiti, as these projects have significant implications for Haiti's GBV epidemic. It also highlights an IDB-funded survey of GBV in Haiti, which took place before the earthquake, but we could not find any post-earthquake follow-up. While Gender Action applauds the World Bank's most recent investment to address GBV, our analysis demonstrates that neither the World Bank nor the IDB adequately address GBV within other critical post-earthquake investments. The case study underscores the urgent need for these institutions to fully implement their gender policies and explicitly address GBV across all sectors.

Broken Promises: Gender Impacts of the World Bank-Financed West-African and Chad-Cameroon Pipelines
Sonia Lowman
September 2011

Based on fieldwork done with Friends of the Earth member groups in Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana, Broken Promises reveals that the Chad-Cameroon and West African pipelines, financed by the World Bank, increased women's poverty and dependence on men; caused ecological degradation that destroyed women's livelihoods; discriminated against women in employment and compensation; excluded women in consultation processes; and led to increased prostitution.

Governing Climate Funds: What Will Work for Women?
Elizabeth Arend & Sonia Lowman
September 2011

As the international community mobilizes in response to global climate changes, climate change mechanisms must ensure the equitable and effective allocation of funds for the world's most vulnerable populations. Gender Action's new publication, Governing Climate Funds: What Will Work for Women?, highlights women and girls' disproportionate vulnerability to negative climate change impacts in developing countries, and demonstrates how they have been largely excluded from climate change finance policies and programs. The report examines two climate funds and two non-climate funds in order to learn how gender can be better integrated in global climate finance mechanisms. We show that women and girls must not only be included in adaptive and mitigative activities, but also recognized as agents of change who are essential to the success of climate change interventions.

Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity: A Primer
Alana Fook
April 2011

"Gender, IFIs, and the Food Insecurity" explores IFI-related causes and gender-specific impacts of recent soaring food prices. Based on 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 suggest targeted actions IFIs must take to address the disproportionately negative impact of food insecurity on women and girls.

Case Studies

Haiti Gender Shadow Report: Ensuring Haitian Women's Participation and Leadership in All Stages of National Relief and Reconstruction
Fall 2010

As Haiti's devastation deepens nearly one year after its January 12, 2010 earthquake, the need for human rights-based gender interventions remains critical. This final Haiti Gender Shadow Report (GSR), jointly prepared by many women's rights activists in the Haiti Equality Collective, provides the crucial gender content that is missing from the Haitian government's World Bank-led Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), the operative blueprint for recovery that Haiti plans to implement. The GSR demonstrates how a post-disaster strategy that ignores the gendered effects of disaster will inevitably fail to benefit the majority of its population, and that sustainable recovery is not possible without the inclusion of women and women's perspectives.

Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development Investments in post-earthquake Haiti
Elaine Zuckerman, Elise Young and Lisa Vitale
Fall 2010

Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development Investments in post-earthquake Haiti demonstrates that the vast majority of World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) post-earthquake investments in Haiti approved through mid-October 2010 represent lost opportunities to help Haiti's predominantly poor female farmers, prevent gender-based violence, and support gender-inclusive development efforts.

Critique of the World Bank's Gender Road Map (2011-2013)
Elizabeth Arend
October 2010

Although the World Bank's "Road Map for Gender Mainstreaming" includes a greater reproductive health focus than its parent document, the World Bank's "Gender Action Plan (GAP): 2007-2010," Gender Action's critique reveals that the Road Map repeats many of the GAP's critical failures. The Road Map ignores multiple civil society criticisms through its lack of a human rights framework, its incomprehensive approach to reproductive health and its lack of robust, transparent gender-related data. In addition, the Road Map almost exclusively focuses on economic empowerment as the sole means to achieve gender equality, and does not include a plan to build gender mainstreaming capacity in Bank country offices.

Speaking up for Gender: A Step-by-Step Guide to Holding IFIs Accountable
Diana Arango & Nicole Zarafonetis
April 2010

Speaking Up for Gender is a user-friendly Guide providing grassroots groups and others affected by IFI projects with information, tips and guidelines for submitting a gender discrimination complaint to an IFI accountability mechanism.

En defensa de la igualdad de género: guía paso a paso para que las IFI rindan cuentas disponible en Español.

Doubling the Damage: World Bank Climate Investment Funds Undermine Climate and Gender Justice
Anna Rooke

This new paper is a first-look examining how the new World Bank-administered Climate Investment Funds will impact both climate and gender justice.

The Gender Dimensions of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The Challenges in Development Aid
Marcia.E.Greenberg and Elaine Zuckerman

IFI Gender Audit and Advocacy: A Toolkit for Chinese Civil Society Organizations
Mande Limbu, Elaine Zuckerman and Jingyi Zhang
November 2008

Gender Action/WLSLAC’s Joint Gender Audit of a Representative Sample of 50 IFI Investments in China
Gender Action and WLSLAC

Empty Promises: Gender Scorecard of World Bank-managed Post-Tsunami Reconstruction in Indonesia
Suzanna Dennis and Warisha Yunus
September 2008

Mapping multilateral development banks' spending on reproductive health and HIV and AIDS
Suzanna Dennis and Elaine Zuckerman
June 2008 Gender & Development Volume 16

Mapping Multilateral Development Banks' Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS Spending
Suzanna Dennis and Elaine Zuckerman
September 2007

Gender Justice: A Citizen's Guide to Gender Accountability at International Financial Institutions

Gender Action and the Center for International Environmental Law
July 2007

The Gender Dimensions of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The World Bank Track Record
Elaine Zuckerman and Suzanna Dennis with Marcia E. Greenberg
June 2007

Policy Space and the Gendered Impacts of International Financial Institutions
Elaine Zuckerman
In the April 2007 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Asia Program Special Report No. 136, The Policy Space Debate: Does a Globalized and Multilateral Economy Constrain Development Policies? Edited by Bhumika Muchhala

Gender Equality as Smart Economics: A World Bank Group Gender Action Plan (GAP) (Fiscal years 2007-10): A Critique

Elaine Zuckerman
January 2007

Gender Guide to World Bank and IMF Policy-Based Lending
Suzanna Dennis and Elaine Zuckerman
Gender Action, December 2006

This paper is also available in Spanish as follows, thanks to generous translation work from Choike:
Guía de Género Sobre la Política de Préstamos del Banco Mundial y el FMI
Suzanna Dennis y Elaine Zuckerman
Diciembre de 2006

Boom-Time Blues: Big Oil’s Gender Impacts in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Sakhalin
A Report by Gender Action and CEE Bankwatch Network, September 2006
Based on research and analysis by Fidanka Bacheva, Manana Kochladze and Suzanna Dennis

See press coverage on Boom-Time Blues

The Gender Dimensions of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The Challenges in Development Aid
Marcia Greenberg and Elaine Zuckerman, June 2006
Forthcoming chapter in a UNU-WIDER book, Making Peace Work and a freestanding WIDER discussion paper

An Introduction to Gender Budget Initiatives
Elaine Zuckerman
Presented in 2005 to macroeconomists and other stakeholders involved in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Process in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Also see Elaine Zuckerman’s related presentation on Engendering Macroeconomics in PRSPs

The Gender Dimensions of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: An Analytical Framework for Policymakers

Elaine Zuckerman and Marcia Greenberg
Published as an article in Gender and Development, An Oxfam Journal, Volume 12, Number 3, November 2004, Oxford, and as a chapter in the book, Gender, Peacebuilding, and Reconstruction, edited by Caroline Sweetman, Oxfam, Great Britain 2005

Invest in Women Internationally
Elaine Zuckerman, 2005. A chapter in 50 Ways to Improve Women's Lives: The Essential Guide for Achieving Health, Equality, and Success for All edited and published by the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO). Available for purchase from NCWO and

Gender and Post-Conflict Reconstruction: The World Bank Track Record

Adriana Quinones, Published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2004

The Gendered Impacts of World Bank Environment and Infrastructure Projects in China

Presentation by Elaine Zuckerman at the Third Non-governmental Organization Forum on International Environmental Cooperation in China, 2003

Structural Adjustment’s Gendered Impacts: the Case of Serbia and Montenegro

Aleksandra Vladisavljevic and Elaine Zuckerman, 2004

Reforming the World Bank: Will the Gender Strategy Make a Difference? A Study with China Case Examples (Updated Version)
Elaine Zuckerman and Wu Qing, Published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2005

Reforming the World Bank: Will the New Gender Strategy Make a Difference? A Study with China Case Examples
Elaine Zuckerman and Wu Qing, Published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2003

A Gentle Touch? Gender and the World Bank — A Critical Assessment
Nasreen Khundker, Prepared for the 2004 Gender Action-Heinrich Böll Foundation-Bank Information Center Panel Discussion of "Reforming the World Bank: Will the New Gender Strategy Make a Difference?"

Do Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers Address Gender Issues? A Gender Audit of 2002 PRSPs
Elaine Zuckerman and Ashley Garrett
Published by Gender Action, 2003

This paper is also available in French as follows:

Les cadres stratégiques de lutte contre la pauvreté (CSLP) tiennent-ils compte de l'inégalité des sexes?  Évaluation des CSLP de 2002 en fonction du principe de l'inégalité des sexes
Elaine Zuckerman et Ashley Garrett
Une Publication de Gender Action 
A Primer on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and Gender
Elaine Zuckerman
Published by Gender Action, 2002

Why Engendering PRSPs Reduces Poverty, and the Case of Rwanda
Elaine Zuckerman
Published by the World Institute for Development Economics and Research, 2001, Helsinki

‘Engendering’ Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): The Issues and The Challenges
Elaine Zuckerman
Published by Gender and Development, An Oxfam Journal, Volume 10, Number 3, 2002, Oxford

Evaluation of Gender Mainstreaming in Advocacy Work on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs)
Elaine Zuckerman
Paper prepared for Oxfam, Great Britain, 2002

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and Gender
Elaine Zuckerman
Paper prepared for GTZ, Germany, 2002

The World Bank and Gender
Gender Action. Chapter in Responsible Reform of the World Bank by the Coalition for World Bank Reform, 2002


© 2012 Gender Action, All Rights Reserved


Stay Connected!

Friend GA on Facebook!
  Follow GA on Twitter!  
  Join GA's Mailing List

Donate to Gender Action

Gender Action is proud to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign
CFC#: 57340