Monday, May 04, 2009

Learning about gender mainstreaming in the World Bank

“You need money to mainstream gender, not much, but you do need money” was the critical lesson Ms. Mayra Buvenic, Director for Gender and Development at the World Bank shared with gender focal points of Brussels-based development NGOs at a meeting on 4 May 2009. The informal exchange of experience was organized by Concord and hosted by Aprodev. Members of the Concord Working Group on Gender and other participants learned about the recent work of the World Bank in this domain. At the same time, Ms. Buvenic was briefed on Concord activities related to gender equity in EU development cooperation and external relations.

De World Bank Gender Action Plan 2006-2010 is based on three key elements:

  • A focus on economic sectors, a key area for the Bank
  • A business case approach (“we show people in the Bank that gender equity pays”)
  • Financial incentives to promote attention for gender

The World Bank plan is entitled "Gender Equality as Smart Economics". According to Ms. Buvenic, it works. Until now, donors - including the World Bank - have pledged 60 million US$ to the programme and within two years the number of World Bank operations in economic sectors that have moderate or detailed gender equity components has risen from 25% to 34%. In World Bank terms the Gender Action Plan is a small program, if not minute. But the key is that the grant programme leverages money and involves staff previously not engaged with gender. The grant money is allocated internally with WB-task managers submitting proposals. Over 70% of the proposals that were honored in the last round, came from staff who had never before been involved in gender.

For the future Ms Buvenic indicated that it was essential that in the next replenishment of IDA (International Development Association - IDA-16) significant funding becomes available for gender. Also she announced that a future World Development Report was going to be dedicated to gender.

Eef Wuytz (International Planned Parenthood Federation - IPPF), representing the Concord Working Group on Gender, indicated that gender equity will be a key priority for Concord in its new Strategic Plan. The Concord Working Group currently undertakes various activities such as monitoring the development of an EU-EC Gender Action Plan for Equality and Empowerment in External Relations. This joint initiative of Council and Commission was launched last year and is evolving slowly – quite slowly actually. Ms. Wuyts expects that the Council and the Commission will adopt this comprehensive Gender Action Plan early 2010 during the Spanish Presidency.

More on gender and EU development policies is available on the websites of Concord and WIDE

See also Euforic's newsfeeds on Concord, Aprodev, and gender