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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.

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Women's eNews

November 20, 2007

World 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 lending.

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 HIV-AIDS.

"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 last month.

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 infant health.

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 Lotze.

"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 Action.

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 care.

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

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Feminist 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 Women’s eNews.

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 Law School.

Media Resources: Women's eNews 11/20/07, Gender Action Website

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WBEZ Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview with Jonah Meadows

April 19, 2007

Wolfowitz, Women & the World Bank
Download 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.

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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

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Elaine 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

In Bretton 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 smart economics."

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 MIGA.

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 measurable impacts.

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.

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Pipeline Aid Projects Called Harmful to Women

by Bojana Stoparic, Women's e-News Correspondent
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 organizations.

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 full capacity.

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.

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 workers leave.

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 previously.

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.

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Comments on Gender Equality as Smart Economics: A World Bank Group Gender
Action Plan (GAP) (Fiscal years 2007-10) [1]

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 Annual Meetings
Bank Information 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 [2]. 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 [3]. These comments demonstrate that GAP responds to many past Gender Action criticisms -- on paper.

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) [4]. 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 [5].

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 [6]

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 [7]. 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 [8].

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 mostly female.

Moreover, Gender Action demonstrates that the gendered impacts of Bank economic sector policies have been harmful, as the next section explains [9].

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 [10]. 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 [11]. GAP nowhere acknowledges this contradiction.

IFC and MIGA. All previous Bank gender guidelines confined themselves to the IBRD and IDA, excluding the IFC and MIGA [12]. 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 [13].

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 [14].

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 [15]. 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 is laudable.

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 [16]. 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 Bank operations.

Training. Gender Action criticized past Bank gender training for not being mandatory [17]. Voluntary Bank gender training is overwhelmingly populated with gender experts [18]. Unfortunately, GAP does not propose mandatory training.

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 [19]. 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 Bank.

GAP identifies only one CSO partner - the International Center for Research on Women - to implement designing and conducting GAP evaluations.

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

[1] The World Bank’s Gender Action Plan (GAP) was launched at the September 2006 annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings in Singapore.
[2] 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.
[3] Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[4] 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 loan
conditionalities also undermine environmental safeguards, keeping the ECB on its toes.
[5] Gender Action 2005 and other publications and press clippings at
[6] See Gender Action’s Gender Guide to World Bank and IMF Policy-Based Lending, forthcoming, December 2006.
[7] World Bank 2002; ibid, footnote 2.
[8] 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, October 11,2006.
[9] 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. Serbia&Mont.PDF.
Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[10] Gender Action 2006 ibid.
[11] 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.
[12] Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[13] To give one example, MIGA is providing political risk insurance to private mining companies operating in the Democratic Republic of
Congo that have contributed to conflicts, mass rapes and sexual slavery:
[14] Clark, Cindy et al. Where is the money for women’s rights? AWID/Just Associates. 2005; Stephen Lewis ibid; Paula Donovan. Gender
Equality Now or Never: A New UN Agency for Women. July 2006.
[15] Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[16] Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[17] Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[18] Gender Action 2005, ibid.
[19] GAP Table 5.

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World Bank book asks: What about men and gender?

Lesley Wroughton

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 and conflict.

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.

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Social Setbacks as Big Oil Expands Pipelines

Emad Mekay

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 market.

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 Gender Action.

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 documentation.

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 better.

"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 says.

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.

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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" [1] 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". [2]

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

Elaine Zuckerman
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

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Montreal Woman Creates International Organization

Nina Herman

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 poverty.

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.

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The Limits of PRSPs

Elaine Zuckerman

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 be hindered.

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Elayne Clift

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, Wu Qing.

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 women's lives."

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.

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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 jobs.

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 to pay.

We can go sector by sector looking into the impact of SALs and see that the negative impacts have been very deep and pervasive.

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 societies.

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 projects.

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
poor women?

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 and
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. However,
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 sovereignty?

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.

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How Much Sky Do Chinese Women Fill?

March 03, 2004
Jing Du

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
Emad Mekay

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 Network.

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 World Bank.

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 mid-1980s.

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, it adds.

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 Gender Review'."
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 official.
"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 to women."

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 critique.

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)

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The Association for Women's Rights in Development Resource Net Friday File

Issue 103
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 development banks?
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 banks.

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 their work.

Gender Action was just established this year, why do you feel it was important to establish this organization at this time?
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 this issue.

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 is Rwanda's.

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 pressure.

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 their countries.

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Financial Times

Friday, November 22 2002
Nancy Dunne

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 Non-profit Organisations.

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 a toll.

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 survey."

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 door.

"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 recruitment.

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 efficiencies.

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.

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Oxfam Great Britain's Gender and Development Newsletter

November 2002

Targeting the top: Gender in the Rwanda PRSP
Elaine Zuckerman

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 it.
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 NGOs.
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 mainstreamed.
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 page.

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Oxfam Great Britain's Gender and Development Newsletter

July 2002 

Mainstreaming Gender in Advocacy Work on PRSPs
Elaine Zuckerman
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 content:

  • 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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