Needed: A True World Bank Development Report on Gender Equality
The World Bank has published 32 reports since 1978 for 2012, "Gender Equality and Development” will be released in late 2011. Better late than never (gender equality was a Millennium Goal). There are voices who think early and independent evaluation of the report already indicates possible report missed opportunities.
An Independent Evaluation Group has highlighted challenges facing the World Bank’s effort on gender mainstreaming. Among them (see also a recent Boell analysis):
- Gender is only selectively integrated, not gender mainstreamed, with unnecessarily narrow entry points through Country Assistance Strategies (CAS) only consider gender implications of policy areas.
- Only a minority of World Bank loans are gender-aware. Development policy loans (for structural reforms) are not covered under the World Bank’s existing operational policy on gender.
- Gender coverage in country loans remains uneven across sectors, going from a high in health and education with more than ¾ of loans being “gender-informed” (although there is no definition of what this entails) to only 9 percent of loans in energy and mining.
- Gender funding at the bank is not tracked systematically and not funded as a “core business”. The Gender Action Plan, the main instrument of the World Bank in the past years to achieve gender equality, was funded by a separate contribution of a few World Bank member countries.
- The staff, management and incentive structure at the Bank remains largely gender-unaware: less than one percent of World Bank staff are gender experts; gender awareness is not made an indicator, and thus seen as a plus, for staff promotions, and there is no existing gender accountability and monitoring framework.
The author of this article suggests that given this list of shortcomings, the WDR will most likely be a missed opportunity for the Bank. It is certainly laudable, some would argue overdue, she further states, that gender equality gets the serious consideration it deserves in the current international development discourse, and having a World Development Report exclusively focused on gender equality gives it yet another ‘stamp of approval’ of being an intrinsic development issue. Too bad that the World Bank is not using this occasion to accompany the academic exercise, whose recipients will be mostly found outside of the World Bank, internally with a serious reflection and reconsideration of the Bank’s own understanding of and approach to gender equality. This would then really be an action-oriented WBDR (a World Bank Development Report) on gender equality.
W3BF will follow the publication of the Report later this year.