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5. Gender in a changing Bank.

Beyond Beijing

Activities linked to the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women led governments, NGOs, and development agencies to take stock of their approach to gender issues (Chapter 1). This stocktaking comes at a time when women are finding common ground across cultures and economic status in spite of great differences in their relative positions and the tremendous disparity between well-off and poor women (Sivard 1995).

Four themes run through the experience of the Bank (as reviewed in chapters 2 to 4) and other development agencies: (1) gender issues are relevant to development for equity reasons; (2) good gender analysis is essential; (3) attention is shifting from projects to country programs; and (4) clear targets and specific action plans are needed. Following the lead established in Beijing, many agencies are now justifying attention to gender on grounds of equity--and in a few cases of empowerment--thus broadening the earlier, narrower focus on economic efficiency and poverty alleviation. For example, the gender action framework (1) of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD countries clearly states that its goals are human rights and equity, not the integration of women into the development process. The DAC's strategic objective is gender equality in the context of sustainable, people-centered development. The report illustrates this point, noting that both men and women in equal partnership take the responsibility to define the development agenda, set the vision and goals, and develop strategies. The Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) 1995 policy on women in development and gender equity goes beyond its 1984 policy's emphasis on women as agents and beneficiaries of development to an emphasis on gender equity and women's empowerment. Similarly, the Bank's overarching focus on poverty reduction justifies attention to gender aspects on the basis of equity as well as economic efficiency.

The 1994 OED study noted the Bank's role in developing the concept of gender analysis during the early 1980s. The importance of effective gender analysis during project design is now generally recognized, and many agencies have developed guidelines for their staff on scope and methodology. Generally, these guidelines share several points that are relevant to the Bank: the importance of looking at both men's and women's roles; the recognition that women do not form a homogeneous group within a given country or culture; the need to look beyond productive activities to family and community tasks; and the need to analyze intrahousehold decision processes.

In the early years of WID concerns, the focus was mostly on bringing women into development activities at the project level. In the Bank, the WID assessments begun in the late 1980s initiated the shift toward country-level analyses of gender concerns that are now expected in all CASs. The DAC has also stated that the focus on WID must be broadened to include programs and country-level strategies. Many of the bilateral aid agencies and regional development banks have issued detailed gender action plans establishing gender priorities and targets, a step now almost completed in the Bank.

The 1994 study recommended a more systematic involvement of staff
with gender skills in economic and sector work and project work;
stronger promotion and use of sex-disaggregated data; and financial
support for innovative approaches under the Fund for Innovative
Approaches in Human and Social Development (FIAHS), which had just
been approved as the study was concluded. The strong increase in
quality and frequency of sound gender analysis certainly indicates
that staff or consultants with good gender skills (who need not be
gender specialists) intervene more systematically in project
preparation. Similarly, sex-disaggregated data were included more
frequently, but not yet systematically, in country assistance
strategies and project documents. OED impact evaluations also
document gender impact more systematically. The FIAHS funds were
used for activities that supported good gender integration in
sector and project work, and several regions set up matching funds
for gender work. Overall, progress is clear, but the focus groups
with task managers show a strong demand for further training and
technical support and for clearer recognition of their efforts.

Institutional support for gender in the Bank

The 1994 OED study highlighted the strong increase in institutional support for mainstreaming gender after FY87--the proactive years--that has been demonstrated in forceful statements from senior management and the Board and by the Bank's willingness to increase staffing for gender work. The study included recommendations aimed at improving the Bank's capacity to respond to this increased level of support (Box 5.1).

The President has firmly established his commitment to integrating gender in ESW and lending and to broadening the Bank's dialogue with borrowers, other agencies, and NGOs to include gender issues. His speech at the 1996 Annual Meetings showed this clearly. Since the Beijing conference, senior managers have frequently expressed their own support for mainstreaming gender, most recently' during a gender symposium for Asia. A gender committee reporting to the President and an expert advisory group are in place, each having met once.

Many encouraging steps have been taken at the regional level. The regional offices are completing their gender action plans, which were initiated shortly after the Beijing conference. The plans place a strong emphasis on reviewing gender aspects at the country level (through ESW and gender-specific reviews) and on integrating the findings into a substantive discussion of gender issues and priorities in the CASs. Gender specialists now work at the resident missions in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan, as well as in Peru. Staff have beet> nominated as "gender focal points" in all country departments in AFR and Asia. The Gender and Poverty Team set up in the Asia Technical Department to provide support to the two Asia regions has been able to function effectively by leveraging its small budget with trust funds, and by decentralizing support on gender in the country departments and the field offices. The team has produced useful country gender profiles, and it is completing a tool kit on micro-finance in collaboration with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest and the Agriculture Department. ECA, MNA, and LAC also have nominated several contact persons in addition to their regional coordinator. In AFR as in LAC, the work of the NGO liaison officers has provided opportunities for increased attention to gender issues. But there have also been some negative developments. The new assignments are in addition to a full work program, and few incremental resources, or none at all, have been allocated. The strong gender team established in the technical department to serve Africa had been actively supported in the early 1990s by regional managers, and the team was able to draw from trust funds to cover dissemination work and consultant positions. Yet in the past two years, the team has been reduced to part of one position as dedicated trust funds are exhausted.

In the center, the Gender Analysis and Policy Team (GAP) has provided guidance and technical support to the regions for policy and sector work as well as for lending. Drawing from the experience of previous years, GAP has worked with each region to develop seminars and training workshops that focus specifically on gender concerns at the regional level, most recently in MNA and the two Asia regions. GAP has worked with the Training Department and the Leadership and Learning Center to integrate gender issues into training courses on traditional sectors and disciplines. Tool kits have been issued for the agriculture and the water and sanitation sectors, together with visual material Bank staff can use to help sensitize their borrower counterparts to gender issues. Available sources of funding have also been used successfully for gender-related preparation work, including the Institutional Development Fund; the Country Operations Support Fund, managed by the Asia Gender and Poverty team for the two Asia regions; and a special WID fund in MNA and ECA. Bank management reports that about half of FIAHS-supported operations include some attempts to incorporate gender issues into the proposed work and that the presence of social scientists hired with FIAHS funding has led to increased attention to gender. OED has found that FIAHS funds have been used for gender-related work even more frequently than management has acknowledged.

Looking ahead

To better understand the factors that contributed to the positive changes noted in chapters 3 and 4, OED organized two sets of focus group discussions. (2) Technical staff in the central vice presidencies and the regions responsible for providing policy and technical guidance to task managers identified the characteristics of a Bank in which gender would be mainstreamed (Box 5.2). Separately, task managers who had achieved excellent gender integration in a project or in nonlending work approved in FY94 and FY95 identified numerous factors that facilitated or hampered their efforts. Using their experience as a guide, OED identified four elements essential to integrating gender into Bank work (Box 5.3).

The responses of the two groups parallel the findings of the OED reviews. The 1994 study showed that the Bank had shifted from a reactive to a proactive stance on gender when senior management and the Board made clear to staff and borrowers their commitment to addressing these issues. The focus group participants applauded the renewed commitment to gender that senior management has demonstrated in the last 18 months, although they agreed this commitment was not uniform across all levels of management.

1. A clear strategy, with goals and targets, would be in place to
implement the Bank's gender policy; all levels of management would
actively support the strategy.

Top management would send a clear, consistent message to borrowers
and staff that gender is important for development effectiveness
and should be an integral part of country-focused analysis.
Management would set specific goals and minimum standards. One
practitioner said that in the truly mainstreamed Bank, a
"clear-cut, articulated policy for achieving gender goals has been
framed and definite targets have been set."

2. Gender would be considered an integral part of analytical work
for economic and sector work, country strategy, and lending work;
interventions would be planned to meet the needs of both men and

Country directors would ensure that gender is addressed in the
country work program and would allocate resources accordingly.
Country managers would be held accountable for carrying out the
work program. As another participant noted, "Reporting on country
activities must explicitly include the extent of attention to

3. Staff would be aware of the relevance of gender issues for Bank
work and would know enough to bring in technical support when

Gender would be recognized by all staff as an issue of efficiency
as well as equity. Staff, especially the country teams, would
receive guidance and technical support from gender practitioners
with formal responsibilities for contributing state-of-the-art
knowledge on gender issues in Bank work. The Bank budget would
allocate funds to meet gender concerns.

4. An institutional framework would be designed to support

Country teams, not just staff working specifically on gender, would
be given incentives to carry out gender-related actions and would
be held accountable. The country teams would be the focal point for
systematic efforts to raise awareness of gender issues, for
training tailored to specific needs, and for information
dissemination and cross-region exchanges. "It is important to
penetrate the country team," a practitioner pointed out.

But they also agreed that while leadership is necessary, in itself it is not enough to promote the changes mainstreaming gender requires. Success will depend on a comprehensive institutional knowledge of what works and what does not. It also needs appropriate skills, institutional support, and resources. During the focus groups, task managers and technical staff frequently cited the high-quality research on gender completed in recent years. But they insisted that many task managers, while willing to address gender concerns, do not feel knowledgeable enough to handle them or even to bring in the appropriate expertise.

1. All parties, especially Bank managers, must be openly committed
to achieving gender objectives. Borrowers must be aware of and
willing to address the issues.

Support from Bank management was seen as instrumental in
integrating gender into economic and sector work and projects.
"Management gave [the issue] a high profile in the dialogue with
the client--it was on the agenda at the donor consortium meeting,"
said one manager. "This gave a strong message to our clients, to
Bank staff, and to other donors." Another observed, "The biggest
factor was a clear signal from Bank management to the client
country and other donors that attention to gender issues was a
critical factor in our relationship with them."

Participants' experience with resource allocation in terms of staff

time and funding varied. "This [gender] was a major part of my work
program--that is, I had the incentives to do it well and was given
credit for good output," said one. Others cited resource
constraints, the problem of "having to do it in one's spare time,"
and lack of support from managers and other Bank staff who
"think ... that gender issues are not serious development issues."

2. A sufficient body of knowledge of gender-related issues in the
country must be available, and it must be applied in the framework
of relevant research results.

Bank staff should draw from all available knowledge sources, from
the latest research to local work and the experience of development
agencies and universities. One participant noted, "We were able to
tap into a network of university-based ethnographers and
anthropologists (based in the United States) with a lot of
experience in thinking about gender issues as they relate to
classroom behaviors. This turned out to be surprisingly applicable
to the rural Third World context we were working in." Participants
mentioned as positive factors the "rigorously analyzed evidence" of
the high return to educating girls and the fact that high-level
managers have publicly promoted this evidence.

3. Bank teams must have adequate skills in handling gender issues,
as well as easy access to practical examples of successful

Although the participating task managers were arguably among the
most experienced and competent to integrate gender aspects in their
work, they felt uncertain when it came to working with gender
issues "on the ground." They called for more information on
experience relevant to their work, wider dissemination of
field-tested methods and techniques, and increased training
opportunities. They also emphasized the need for strong social
expertise in both Bank and borrower teams.

4. Innovative approaches should be tested and piloted under local

Good design and implementation of gender-related objectives build
on a thorough knowledge of the local situation and an understanding
of the points of view of different stakeholders. Several task
managers described how a pilot phase enabled them to test
innovative strategies and adapt these to the local situation in
partnership with the stakeholders.

The focus group participants found that the current focus on country management has opened a potential avenue for country teams to increase their attention to gender and expand the dialogue with borrowers. They emphasized that current efforts to improve the quality of the CAS papers "could be a great instrument to mainstream gender if adequately followed up." But they also cautioned that adequate incentives and clear lines of accountability must be set. They concluded that while progress is being made, gender is not yet mainstreamed. The participants were concerned that proposed institutional changes might put this progress at risk.

On July 1,1996, staff working on gender (3) briefed CODE on the implementation of the Bank's gender policy. Staff reported that "progress has been made ... but gender issues are still far from being successfully integrated in all the Bank's work." (4) Staff explained that each region was finalizing a gender action plan. Bank management and regional representatives also expressed concern that efforts to mainstream gender remain vulnerable and could be curtailed under the new Bank structure and processes. Yet, a crosscutting issue such as gender is relevant to all networks and sectors, and mechanisms are needed to draw on potential synergies across countries and sectors.

Participants in the focus groups emphasized that gender continues to need "champions" in the networks and regions--managers and staff who are formally assigned to promote and guide work on gender issues and are evaluated in part on their work in this area. In recent weeks, management has agreed that the poverty reduction and economic management network (PREM) will include families on poverty and on gender. (5) PREM is an appropriate "home" for leadership on gender, as long as the skills of social scientists are recognized as integral to gender analysis and systematic links to other networks and to regional offices are established.


Following the July 1996 briefing described in the section above, CODE reaffirmed that gender issues are economic and social issues and not exclusively women's issues, and as such they permeate all aspects of the Bank's work. This update shows that some excellent work on gender issues is being done and that projects with gender-related actions are associated with satisfactory outcomes. Regional offices have produced a flurry of ideas and innovative initiatives. Gender action plans are being completed, and the social action plans include gender. The high standards and commitment of many staff, both those who work explicitly on gender issues and task managers, are exemplary. But the integration of gender concerns into Bank work is not yet systematic.

The summary of this study presents detailed recommendations. Generally, the current emphasis on portfolio management at the country level and on technical excellence through "networks" opens a window of opportunity. So do ongoing efforts in the Bank to better document development progress through performance indicators, to understand the social dimensions of development through social assessments, and to involve stakeholders in decisions that affect their lives. In order to be effective, each of these efforts should include gender concerns. Success requires a coherent strategy at all levels of management and a realistic understanding of the skills and resources needed to integrate gender issues into Bank work.


(1.) Draft dated October 10,1996, based on the Development Assistance Committee report presented in Beijing.

(2.) A total of 115 staff were invited to contribute, and 43 did so. The focus groups used the groupware technology, alternating between individual inputs from each participant and group discussion, in order to document individual experiences and identify points of consensus and disagreement within the groups. Two sessions were held with task managers and one with gender technical staff.

(3.) The Gender Analysis and Policy Group team in the Poverty and Social Policy Department, Human Capacity Development, and gender coordinators in each region.

(4.) Progress in Mainstreaming Gender into World Bank Work, note prepared for the Committee on Development Effectiveness meeting of May 17,1996 (postponed to July 1,1996).

(5.) This is similar to the current Poverty and Social Policy Department, except that staff with coordination responsibilities on nongovernmental organizations and participation will move to the Social Development Family of the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network.
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Title Annotation:Mainstreaming Gender in World Bank Lending: An Update
Author:Murphy, Josette
Publication:Mainstreaming Gender in World Bank Lending
Date:Jun 1, 1997
Previous Article:4. Gender in nonlending services.
Next Article:Annex: study methodology.

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