Feminist Economics and the World Bank: History, Theory and Policy (Routledge Iaffe Advances in Feminist Economics)

Feminist Economics and the World Bank

The past decade has witnessed a paradigm shift at the World Bank from a focus on structural adjustment to a focus on poverty reduction. As evidenced by the Bank’s 2001 report, Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice, an increased attention to gender issues has been an important part of this process. The premise of the report is that economic growth and development cannot be effectively addressed when gender inequality is not taken into account, because poverty increases gender inequalities and gender inequalities hinder economic development. This book brings together a range of responses from feminist economists and other social researchers on the issues raised in this report. With contributions from highly esteemed scholars such as Violet Eudine Barriteau, Diane Elson, Gale Summerfield, and Zafiris Tzannatos, this anthology critically examines the relationships between gender, growth, development, and the World Bank. It develops a history of the World Bank’s perspectives on gender, empirically evaluates the impacts of the Bank’s policies on three different regions of the world, explores the ideological and methodological commitments of the report from a variety of feminist and interdisciplinary social science perspectives, and inquires into future directions for feminist economic research. The book shows the importance and challenge of taking gender into account in development theory and policy. Its complex and nuanced analyses of the social relations of gender in a global context will be an important resource for policymakers, activists, and scholars. Edith Kuiper is Researcher at the Department of Economics and Econometrics at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Drucilla K. Barker is Professor of Economics and Women’s Studies at Hollins University, Virginia, USA.

Routledge IAFFE Advances in Feminist Economics IAFFE aims to increase the visibility and range of economic research on gender; facilitate communication among scholars, policy-makers, and activists concerned with women’s well-being and empowerment; promote discussions among policy-makers about interventions which serve women’s needs; educate economists, policy-makers, and the general public about feminist perspectives on economic issues; foster feminist evaluations of economics as a discipline; expose the gender blindness characteristic of much social science and the ways in which this impoverishes all research, even research that does not explicitly concern women’s issues; help expand opportunities for women, especially women from underrepresented groups, within economics; and encourage the inclusion of feminist perspectives in the teaching of economics. The IAFFE book series pursues the aims of the organization by providing a forum in which scholars have space to develop their ideas at length and in detail. The series exemplifies the value of feminist research and the high standard of IAFFE sponsored scholarship. 1 Living Wages, Equal Wages Gender and labor market policies in the United States Deborah M. Figart, Ellen Mutari and Marilyn Power 2 Family Time The social organization of care Edited by Nancy Folbre and Michael Bittman 3 Feminist Economics and the World Bank History, theory and policy Edited by Edith Kuiper and Drucilla K. Barker

Feminist Economics and the World Bank History, theory and policy

Edited by Edith Kuiper and Drucilla K. Barker

First published 2006 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group © 2006 Selection and editorial matter, Edith Kuiper and Drucilla K. Barker; individual chapters, the contributors

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006.

“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.” All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN10: 0–415–70064–7 ISBN10: 0–415–76381–9

ISBN13: 9–78–0–415–70064–1 (hbk) ISBN13: 9–78–0–415–76381–3 (pbk)


List of figures and tables Notes on contributors Acknowledgments

1 Feminist economics and the World Bank: an introduction

ix xi xvii




Gender and the World Bank: an institutional history and assessment


2 The World Bank, development, adjustment and gender equality



3 An assessment of efforts to promote gender equality at the World Bank



4 Rhetoric and realities: a comment




Policy evaluations 5 Engendering Development: a critique

63 65


6 Engendering agricultural technology for Africa’s farmers: promises and pitfalls CHERYL DOSS


vi Contents

7 Taking gender differences in bargaining power seriously: equity, labor standards, and living wages



8 World Bank discourse and World Bank policy in Engendering Development: a comment




Disciplinary paradigms/development paradigms 9 Colonizing knowledge: economics and interdisciplinarity in Engendering Development




10 Adjustment with a woman’s face: gender and macroeconomic policy at the World Bank



11 Gender and intrahousehold decision-making: international migration and other frontiers for development policy



12 Engendering development or gender main-streaming? A critical assessment from the Commonwealth Caribbean



13 “Disciplining” and “engendering” the World Bank: a comment




Explorations: future directions of feminist economic research


14 A seat at the table: feminist economists negotiate development



15 Why feminist economists should pay more attention to the coherence between the World Bank and the WTO MARIAMA WILLIAMS


Contents vii

16 Engendering the German Parliamentary Commission Report on “Globalization of the World Economy”



17 Women’s rights and Engendering Development





Figures and tables

Figures 2.1 Projects rated as achieving satisfactory outcomes, 1974–2001 7.1 Total foreign direct investment as a percentage of gross fixed capital formation 7.2 Wage-induced productivity growth 7.3 Average productivity growth and total FDI as percentage of gross fixed capital formation, 1972–1990

19 100 104 106

Tables 2.1 Evolution of the World Bank’s attention to gender and development issues 2.2 Gender policies of multilateral donor agencies 2.3 Gender analysis in Bank projects by sector 1988–1999 7.1 Trends in FDI in developing countries 7.2 Indices of labor productivity in selected South Korean manufacturing industries, 1976–1990 12.1 World rank of Caribbean countries on the Human Development Index, 1995–2001 12.2 Comparative rank of Caribbean countries on the Gender Development Index, 1995–2001 12.3 Earned income share, 1995–1998 12.4 Real GDP per capita (US$), 1999–2001 12.5 Women’s political participation in Caribbean countries, 2001

22 28 29 98 105 184 188 189 190 191


Rose-Marie Avin is Professor of Economics at the University of WisconsinEau Claire. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland-College Park, USA. She teaches courses on the economic development of the Third World and of Latin America, and on women and economic development. Her research interests focus on women in the Third World, especially in Nicaragua. She has written articles on gender issues in Latin America, more specifically on economic restructuring, the empowerment of Nicaraguan women, free-trade zones, the changing economic role of women in Brazil, and the role of international organizations in economic development. Drucilla K. Barker is Professor of Economics and Women’s Studies at Hollins University, Virginia, USA. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and her B.A. in Philosophy from Sonoma State University. A founding member of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE), she is the co-author (with Susan Feiner) of Liberating Economics: Feminist Perspectives on the Families, Work and Globalization, and the co-editor (with Edith Kuiper) of Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics (also published by Routledge). Violet Eudine Barriteau is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. She is the author of The Political Economy of Gender in the TwentiethCentury Caribbean. Her most recent publications include Confronting Power Theorizing Gender: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in the Caribbean, and “Women Entrepreneurs and Economic Marginality: Rethinking Caribbean Women’s Economic Relations” in Gendered Realities: Essays in Caribbean Feminist Thought. She is the inaugural Dame Nita Barrow Women in Development Fellow, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Suzanne Bergeron holds a joint appointment in Women’s Studies and Social Sciences at the University of Michigan Dearborn, USA, where she is also the director of the Women in Learning and Leadership program. She is the author of Fragments of Development: Nation, Gender, and the Space of Modernity, as well as numerous articles on gender, development and the World Bank.

xii Contributors Cheryl Doss is the Director of Graduate Studies for the M.A. Program in International Relations and a Lecturer in Economics at Yale University, USA. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on gender and intrahousehold issues related to rural households in Africa, especially those in Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia. In particular, she is interested in the gender implications of technology for agricultural households. Currently, she is working to understand risk management strategies among pastoralist households in East Africa, with a focus on the implications for women, and she is involved with a project looking at women and the distribution of wealth. Diane Elson teaches courses on gender, development and human rights in the Department of Sociology and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. She has previously held posts in the universities of Manchester, Sussex, York and Oxford. In 1998–2000, she served as Special Advisor to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and in 2004 she was the vice-president of the International Association for Feminist Economics. She is a member of the UN Taskforce on the Millennium Development Goals. Her recent publications include Progress of the World’s Women 2002; “International Financial Architecture: A View from the Kitchen”, Femina Politica, 11(1) 2002; and “Human Rights and Corporate Profits: the UN Global Compact-Part of the Solution of Part of the Problem?” in Global Tensions, also published by Routledge. Edith Kuiper is Researcher at the Department of Economics and Econometrics at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Her research interests are in the history and philosophy of economics. She is co-editor of Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economics (Routledge, 1995), author of The Most Valuable of All Capital: A Gender Reading of Economic Texts (2001) and she co-edited (with Drucilla K. Barker) Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Economics (Routledge, 2003). She is a founder and former President of the Dutch Network of Feminist Economics (FENN) and coordinator of the European Chapter of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE-Europe). Carolyn M. Long, now an independent consultant, was previously VicePresident of InterAction, the US coalition of NGOs, where she oversaw the organization’s initiatives to strengthen the development operations of US NGOs and to promote appropriate policies and programs for sustainable human development at the World Bank and other public donor agencies. She is the author of Participation of the Poor in Development Initiatives: Taking Their Rightful Place, which analyzes progress made in incorporating participation of the poor in projects and policies of large public donor agencies and recipient government agencies over a ten-year period. Focused largely on the World Bank, the book also analyzes strategies used by NGOs aligned with activists inside donor agencies to promote this work. She has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa.

Contributors xiii Sakuntala Narasimhan is a national award-winning Indian journalist specializing in gender and development. She taught a course on women and development at Virginia Tech, USA, on a Fulbright assignment (1990) and is the author of ten books including Empowering Women: An Alternative Strategy from Rural India. She has presented papers at the annual conferences of the International Association for Feminist Economics at Oslo (2001), Barbados (2003) and Oxford (2004) and was commissioned to report on the Fourth World conference on women (Beijing 1995), UNGASS (Beijing +5, New York 2000) and the World Summit at Johannesburg (2002). Aida Orgocka received her doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She helped found one of the first women’s non-governmental organizations in Albania. Her research interests address gender, health, international migration and development. Her most recent work on Albanian female high-skilled migration will appear in The New Albanian Diaspora. She is also publishing her work on Muslim immigrant women in the USA in professional journals such as Sex Education. Laura Parisi is Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada. Her areas of specialty are gender, feminist theory, international political economy, human rights, and international law and organization. She was a delegate to the UN Beijing +5 women’s conference in New York in 2000, and is the author of several publications on women’s human rights issues, including her most recent publication “Feminist Praxis and Women’s Human Rights” in the Journal of Human Rights (2002, vol. 1). Karin Schoenpflug received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Vienna and works in the economic policy division of the Austrian Ministry of Finance. She has taught at the Universities of Klagenfurt and Graz in Austria and at the University of Southern Maine in the USA. Her cultural and political commitments include working at Rosa Lila Villa, a GLBTQ center in Vienna, attending and organizing the world’s oldest Women’s Camp on Femø, Denmark, recently focusing on the lessons from the Northern European women’s movement of the 1970s. She is a member of International Association for Feminist Economics and her research interests include exploring utopian visions of feminist economics. Stephanie Seguino is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Vermont, USA. A central issue her research explores is the welfare effects of globalization. She has also studied the interrelationship between output, growth, and income distribution, exploring how the distribution of income between genders affects macroeconomic outcomes. Her most recent work has explored the effects of economic growth on gender equity in well-being in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Asia. A second branch of her work explores the determinants

xiv Contributors of investment and the effect of capital mobility on productivity, wages, and growth. She has also worked on living wage issues. Her worked is published in a wide variety of journals, including the Journal of Development Studies, the Cambridge Journal of Economics, World Development, and the Journal of PostKeynesian Economics. She has also served as consultant to the World Bank, USAID, the United Nations, and UNRISD. Gale Summerfield is Director of the Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program and Associate Professor of Human and Community Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has written extensively on gender aspects of reforms in post-socialist and developing countries. Her articles appear in journals such as International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Feminist Economics, World Development, and Review of Social Economy. She is co-editor (with Nahid Aslanbeigui and Steven Pressman) of Women in the Age of Economic Transformation (Routledge, 1994), and (with Irene Tinker) of Woman’s Rights to House and Land: China, Laos, Vietnam. Her current research interests address gender, human security, and transnational migration. Zafiris Tzannatos is Advisor to the World Bank Institute and at the time of writing the chapter in this volume he was Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He has previously held senior appointments in UK universities and the World Bank including being Advisor to the Bank’s Managing Director for Human Development, Manager for Social Protection in the Middle East and North Africa Region, and Leader of the Child Labor Program. He has advised many governments and international organizations on issues relating to development and social policy and has numerous publications, including 14 books, in the areas of gender equality, child labor and trade unions and more broadly labor economics. Mariama Williams, Ph.D., is an international economics consultant and an Adjunct Associate at the Center of Concern, Washington, DC. She is also the Research Adviser for the International Gender and Trade Network/ Caribbean Gender and Trade Network and co-research Coordinator, Political Economy of Globalisation (Trade), and Development Alternative with Women for a New Era (DAWN). Williams is also a former member of the board of the Association for Women’s Right and Development (AWID) and a Director of the Institute for Law and Economics (ILE-Jamaica). She is also a member of the International Working Group on Engendering Macroeconomics and International Trade and a consultant adviser for Gender and Trade to the Commonwealth Secretariat. Cynthia A. Wood is an economist and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State University, whose work has appeared in Feminist Economics and Nepantla: Views from South. Her research interests include

Contributors xv gender and development, Latin American economics, and postcolonial feminist theory. Brigitte Young is Professor of International and Comparative Political Economy at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Muenster. She also taught at the Institute of Political Science, Free University of Berlin from 1997 to 1999. From 1994 to 1995 she was Research Associate at the Centre for German and European Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and from 1991 to 1997 she was at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. Her research areas are globalization, financial markets, GATS, international political economy, feminist economics, and multimedia intercultural education. She has published widely in English and German. Her recent publications include: Gender, Globalization, and Democratization (co-edited) and Global Governance (co-edited). She is presently working on two manuscripts, Engendering the WTO (forthcoming) and Finance, Power and Social Reproduction (forthcoming).


This book is the result of both our enthusiasm about the leap made by the World Bank Gender Office in taking feminist economic interests and research into account in Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice, and our concerns about its limitations. We acknowledge Andrew Mason, of the Gender Office of the World Bank, for his participation in conference sessions on the report. We also thank Zafiris Tzannatos for his support and years of commitment to open discussions on these matters in an international forum of feminist economists. We thank all those who joined the discussions at the conference of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) in Los Angeles. Thanks also to IAFFE for providing us with an international forum and network for these discussions and a place to bring together scholars committed to critical discussions on gender and development. We also thank Robert Langham, Routledge economics editor, for his continued support and interest in this project. We thank the organization of the Marie-Jahoda Visiting Professorship for International Women’s Studies Chair of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) for providing the environment in which to work on the completion of this book. Thanks also to Ilse Lenz and Brigitte Young for their discussions that helped us to further articulate the conception of this book. Thanks also to Hollins University (USA) for their research support. We acknowledge and thank the Women’s Edge Coalition for permission to adapt “The Advocate’s Guide to Promoting Gender Equality at the World Bank.” The full paper is available at www.womensedge.org. We also acknowledge Routledge for permission to reprint “Adjustment With a Woman’s Face: Gender and Macroeconomic Policy at the World Bank,” by Cynthia Wood, reprinted from Struggles for Social Rights in Latin America, edited by Susan Eckstein and Tim Wickam-Crowley, New York: Routledge, 2003.


Feminist economics and the World Bank An introduction Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper

In the past decade the World Bank has made a substantial shift both in theory and policy. Previously economists in Washington determined the boundaries and conditions for World Bank programmes and loans. Now macroeconomic models and top-down approaches are augmented by cooperation with local groups and non-governmental organizations. This has been accompanied by a renewed focus on fighting poverty, a decentralization of authority, and an increased involvement of national governments. An increased attention to gender issues has been an important part of this process. During the 1980s only scant attention was paid to gender and women’s issues in the Bank’s publications and policies. This changed in the 1990s as the Bank began to study the effects of women’s education on poverty and fertility rates. The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing provided further impetus for the Bank to pursue research on gender and development. At that conference James Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank, made a commitment to develop a framework for gender and development in cooperation with NGOs and other international organizations working on these issues. In this process the attention paid to the relationship between gender and development broadened from a relatively narrow economic focus to a more interdisciplinary one that included discussions of identity, culture, and North–South relations. This research, which culminated in the 2001 report Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice, calls for including women’s economic status as a major economic indicator in the evaluation of World Bank projects (World Bank 2001). Taking the economic framework of the World Bank as a starting point for analysis, Engendering Development makes the case that economic growth and development cannot be effectively addressed when gender inequality is not taken into account. It starts from the premise that poverty increases gender inequalities and that gender inequalities hinder economic development. As James Wolfensohn puts it in his Foreword to the report, The World Bank is committed to a world free from poverty. And it is clear that efforts to achieve this must address gender inequalities . . . ignoring gender disparities comes at great cost – to people’s well being and to

2 Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper countries’ abilities to grow sustainably, to govern effectively, and thus to reduce poverty. (Wolfensohn 2001: xi) Of course, promoting gender equality is a complex undertaking, as the authors of the report, Elizabeth M. King and Andrew D. Mason, acknowledge in their preface. The research informing the report is multidisciplinary and draws on economics, law, demography, sociology, and other disciplines. The report is organized around the principal pathways through which gender inequalities are generated and persist: the role of social institutions, of economic institutions, of household power relations, resources and decision-making, and of economic change and development policy. Acknowledging that addressing persistent gender inequalities requires more than just economic growth, the Report proposes a three-part strategy for promoting gender equality: • • •

Rights: Reform institutions to establish equal rights and opportunities for women and men. Resources: Foster economic development to strengthen incentives for more equal resources and participation. Voice: Take active measures to redress persistent disparities in command over resources and political voice (World Bank 2001: 1–2).

Given the importance of the topic, and the sustained level of interest in it, Engendering Development can, in many ways, be seen as a major achievement for scholars, policy-makers and activists who have argued for including gender in economic theory and policy. The publication of this report, its explicit claim that gender issues are economic issues, the use made of feminist economic research, and the reception of the report in the World Bank motivated the editors of this volume to organize a set of sessions at the annual meetings of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) in 2002 in Los Angeles. The overwhelming interest in these sessions, attended by many of the authors in this anthology, most of whom have been involved in discussions about women, development, and the Bank for many years, as well as Andrew Mason, one of the authors of the report, motivated this project. It brings together a range of viewpoints from feminist economists and other social researchers on the paradigm shift articulated in Engendering Development. The essays in this anthology critically examine the relationships between gender, growth, development, and the World Bank from historical, empirical, and theoretical perspectives, and explore futures directions for research, policy, and activism.

Gender and the World Bank: an institutional history and assessment The first section of this book sets the stage for a feminist examination and critique of the World Bank’s policies on gender and development by providing

Feminist economics and the World Bank 3 a historical overview of the Bank’s gender policies and an examination of the institutional processes that culminated in the Engendering Development report. Zafiris Tzannatos, who has been involved in the research and development of gender policies and strategies at the Bank for many years, provides an insider’s perspective. Carolyn Long, a consultant on the civil society organizations in development, connects the report to advocacy efforts carried out by both Northern and Southern women’s organizations, and Sakuntala Narasimhan brings a journalist’s eye to the issues. Tzannatos provides a historical overview of the World Bank’s genesis, mandate, and approach to development, poverty, and gender. He locates the evolution of the Bank’s position on women and gender against the background of the larger changes in the Bank’s policies from reconstruction, to structural adjustment, to its current focus on poverty alleviation. His discussion of the evolution of gender issues within the Bank in terms of philosophy, internal organization, and activities allows the reader to better understand the institutional character and culture of the institution. The Bank’s preoccupation with macroeconomic issues and structural adjustment policies meant that thematic issues such as gender equality received scant attention until it began to prepare for the 1995 Beijing conference. Since then the Bank came to endorse the position that gender inequalities hamper growth, called for attention to gender equality in development efforts, and outlined how gender issues were to be identified and incorporated into Bank-supported projects and programs. Tzannatos concludes that although attention to gender issues at the Bank continue, and have become particularly visible since the onset of the new millennium, their impact on development and on women in developing countries and more generally on development is unclear. From her extensive experience in women’s organizations and other international NGOs, Carolyn Long assesses the Bank’s attention to the promotion of gender equality in its policies and projects. Her account of the Bank’s approach to gender in terms of history, organizational structure, and institutional culture is framed in terms of gender advocacy efforts carried out by women’s organizations and other external actors, and complements Tzannatos’ insider’s account. She includes a discussion of the actions that a number of Northern and Southern women’s organizations consider essential in promoting gender equality in Bank-funded initiatives. Long’s account is particularly critical of the lack of real institutional support for gender at the Bank. She considers the Bank’s gender strategies and adoption of Country Gender Assessments (CGAs), which analyze the gender dimensions of development across sectors and identify gender-responsive measures that will contribute to poverty reduction, growth, and human well-being, as an important step forward. The problem, however, is the lack of real institutional support, in terms of either budgets or administrative authority. The integration of gender concerns into projects and policies varies by region and depends on the interest, or lack thereof, of the particular Bank employees and countries in promoting gender equality. External pressure from NGOs and women’s

4 Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper organizations in both the North and South will be necessary to create the institutional changes necessary to turn the rhetoric of gender equality into real integration of women and women’s issues into Bank policies. This section concludes with a comment by Sakuntala Narasimhan. She asks whether the Bank has learned from its past mistakes and whether the changes now under way will make a positive difference in the ways that development funding affects women. Dam projects on the Narmada river in upper India, a road development project on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and the building of a coal-fired power plant in Orissa state in India are just three examples that lead her to doubt the learning abilities of the Bank. She concludes that development funding continues to have a negative effect on the well-being of many poor women in the South. Narishimhan agrees with Long that external pressure on the Bank is necessary to effect real reforms, and this in turn requires that the voices of poor, mostly rural, mostly uneducated, women in the South be heeded and the chasm between them and privileged, urban, educated women be closed.

Policy evaluations The second section of the book examines the explicit and implicit policy implications of the report in light of the actual economic conditions in three different regions: Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. As all of these chapters point out, the Bank assumes that economic growth is, for all practical purposes, synonymous with development. In development literature and in development practices, however, the concept has evolved to include a variety of non-economic dimensions including freedom, dignity, capabilities, inclusion, and so forth. Defined in this broader sense, development and gender equity can go hand in hand. In contrast, economic growth alone may not improve the well-being of the vast majority of people in the developing world, nor will it necessarily contribute to gender equity and the empowerment of women. Rose-Marie Avin’s chapter challenges the report’s assertion that women’s status and gender equality actually improved in parts of Latin America during the structural adjustment period of the 1980s and 1990s. Case studies from Brazil and Nicaragua provide the evidence for her challenge. In the Brazilian case, large numbers of women migrated to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to find work. However, due to capital-intensive import-substitution many of these women were not able to find jobs in the manufacturing sector and found work in the informal sector as street vendors, prostitutes, cooks, maids, and nannies. All women were not, of course, affected equally. Segmented labor markets meant that middle-class, Euro-Brazilian women were able to take advantage of educational and occupational opportunities while millions of poor, workingclass women were relegated to the low-paying, low-status occupations. Thus the Bank’s assertion that economic growth improves the status of women depends on its disregard of the importance of race, ethnicity, and class in determining women’s economic status.

Feminist economics and the World Bank 5 The Nicaraguan case tells an interesting story. During the period between 1979 and 1990, when the Sandinista government was in power, major policies were introduced that enabled women to participate fully in the political, economic, and social life of the country. For the first time working-class and peasant women had voice. With the defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990, advancements toward gender equity came to a halt. Structural adjustment policies resulted in widespread female unemployment and women’s burdens in households also increased. Cheryl Doss explores gender and development in an African context. She begins with the premise that improved agricultural technologies are key to reducing poverty and increasing the standard of living in Africa and notes that the report does not directly address issues of agricultural and technology, nor does it directly address issues of power relations. In order to improve the wellbeing of women in Africa it is necessary to develop policies and technologies that will improve agricultural productivity, and for such polices and technologies to be efficacious, it is necessary to investigate power and gender relations in households, communities, and countries. Women will only benefit from new technologies if the accompanying policies increase their options and control over their own lives. Doss considers three dimensions of the effects of technologies on women farmers. First she considers their effects on women’s workloads. Technologies that increase productivity may have a negative effect on well-being if women have to work harder or longer or lose control over the output. Technologies can also impact women’s access to resources, land in particular. Since women often acquire land rights through male relatives or village heads, technologies that increase the value of land may actually make it more difficult for them to acquire such rights. Finally, if women lose control over their activities once they become profitable, then their well-being will be harmed. Since women’s lives and situations are so varied, it is not possible to tell a priori how technologies will affect them. A nuanced sense of power relations in particular contexts is necessary to understand whether technologies will enhance or diminish women’s power and hence their well-being, and the report fails to provide this. Concerns about the effects of economic growth on women’s well-being inform the chapter by Stephanie Seguino. She notes that well-being is improved by paid work at living wages and by gender-wage parity. In developing countries, however, the combination of women’s segregation in export industries and increased capital mobility constrains their ability to improve their wages and working conditions. Credible threats of firm relocation effectively dampen women’s bargaining power relative to that of capital even as the demand for their labor increases. This leads her to question the Bank’s assumption that trade and market liberalization are beneficial to women’s well-being. Using the case of the Asian semi-industrialized countries (SIEs), she demonstrates an inverse relationship between economic growth and gender-wage parity. Evidence shows that the countries with the largest gender-wage gaps were the ones that grew the most rapidly during the period between 1975 and

6 Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper 1995. Using a neo-Kaleckian model to further illuminate the relationship between female wages and macroeconomic outcomes in an open economy, she shows that the decline in output and female employment resulting from higher female wages is more likely to occur if capital is footloose, if the price elasticity of exports is high, and if the spending propensities of capitalists and workers are similar. A more optimistic scenario in which higher female wages are consistent with economic growth is possible if firms have an incentive to innovate or if higher wages stimulate productivity. The case of South Korea demonstrates that this is possible, and the precise conditions need to be investigated further. A comment by Karin Schoenpflug concludes this section. She uses Michel Foucault’s discourse analysis to reflect on the arguments made by Avin, Doss, and Seguino and to deconstruct the rhetoric and policies of the World Bank. Four localities are particularly germane to her analysis: the constitution of subjectivity and issues of voice, processes of legitimization and the power of definition, the role of hierarchal dualisms, and the material consequences of practices of inclusion and exclusion. From this framework she concludes that Engendering Development is a powerful piece of institutional rhetoric that creates its own logic and legitimizes World Bank policies. These issues are explored further in the next section.

Disciplinary paradigms/development paradigms The third section of this book examines the ideological and methodological commitments of the report from a variety of feminist and interdisciplinary social science perspectives. It explicitly considers the ways in which disciplinary paradigms and boundaries contribute to the sense-making and legitimization of the report. These chapters note that although the Bank has adopted a new, multidisciplinary paradigm that includes attention to problems of poverty and other social issues, the changes are more apparent than real. We begin this section with Suzanne Bergeron’s examination of the Bank’s break with a narrow, economistic approach in favor of an approach that is responsive to poverty and inequality. She argues that although economists are encouraged to take a multidisciplinary approach and account for social and cultural factors in their analyses, they do in ways that preserve and strengthen the disciplinary core of economics. Rationality and market efficiency remain privileged concepts, and the critical and the transdisciplinary methods that characterize feminist theorizing remain outside the Bank’s framework. The new approach does account for the significance of market failures and externalities, norms, values, and institutions. It draws attention to the importance of health and education for women. However, the disciplinary boundaries of economics remain intact and intersectionality, a central concept in women’s studies, remains absent. Differences among women are obscured by universalistic accounts of women’s behavior and experiences. Integration into formal labor markets is seen as the key to women’s emancipation from traditional, patriarchal cultures. Women’s emancipation is not, however, seen as an end in itself, but

Feminist economics and the World Bank 7 rather as instrumental to the goals of economic growth. In contrast, a feminist transdisciplinary methodology would call on social constructivist and postcolonial insights to consider difference and representations and consider how both market and non-market social processes affect women’s agency and wellbeing. Cynthia Wood agrees with Bergeron that neoclassical economics remains the dominant paradigm at the Bank. She argues that as long as it remains dominant, neither political pressure nor other institutional changes will eliminate gender bias in adjustment policies. Neoclassical economics, with its emphasis on markets, prices, and economic growth, precludes gender analyses and marginalizes any consideration of the effects of structural adjustment on unpaid domestic labor. The Bank’s discussion of gender downplays considerations of structural adjustment and macroeconomics and focuses instead on social issues such as education, population, and health. Wood argues that publication of Engendering Development will do little to change this because, in reality, engendering macroeconomics entails considering unpaid domestic labor, and the current paradigm precludes doing this in any meaningful way. Moreover, eliminating gender bias in economic theory and policy requires not only that non-market activities be recognized and valued, but that differences in intrahousehold relations be considered. Intrahousehold relations are the subject of the next essay by Aida Orgocka and Gale Summerfield. Although the fourth chapter in Engendering Development analyzes intrahousehold bargaining processes, Orgocka and Summerfield argue that it has limitations. It does not include new interdisciplinary developments, and it is quite selective in the work it does include, stressing econometric studies rather than qualitative approaches. Moreover, the Bank’s analysis is focused on adult, heterosexual partners, and considers children mainly as the recipients of the parents’ largesse or as investments for the parents’ future support. Orgocka and Summerfield, in contrast, argue that understanding parent/child dynamics would contribute to a deeper understanding of the distribution of power and resources in households. And a better understanding of mother/daughter relationships is fundamental to constructing policies that promote gender equity since history is replete with examples of mothers passing down hurtful traditions to their daughters because their economic well-being was dependent on adherence to patriarchal gender norms. They use their qualitative research on gender and Muslim immigrants in the Midwestern United States to illustrate how factors overlooked in the Bank’s discussion enrich our understanding of mother/daughter interactions within the household regarding sex education for young women. Sex education is, of course, a key component of policies concerning health and reproduction. Orgocka and Summerfield’s work points to the importance of using qualitative research methods so that policy-makers can better understand different contexts and different expressions of agency in diverse groups of people. V. Eudine Barriteau provides a contextualized critique of the Bank’s report. She argues that it is best understood as a form of gender mainstreaming and

8 Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper explores the major shortcomings of gender mainstreaming in the context of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Gender mainstreaming views gender as arising from differences in male and female bodies and does not include feminist inquiries into ideology, power relations, and conditions of subordination. The report suffers from the same flaw and so its policies will not disrupt gender hierarchies. Barriteau points out that the report does not differentiate between the Caribbean and rest of Latin America. The experience of the Commonwealth Caribbean, however, provides evidence that women’s access to material resources is insufficient for bringing about positive change. Despite the fact that women have equal access to education and are becoming dominant in traditional male occupations, they remain economically disadvantaged relative to men. Men continue to be politically, economically, and socially dominant because the ideological dimensions of gender hierarchies are not fundamentally challenged. Thus, she argues that the Bank needs to revisit its conceptual analysis of gender. For Barriteau, material and ideological relations of gender are relations of power. The former concerning the relative access to resources by women and men, the latter concerning the social meanings of masculinity and femininity. Dismantling gender inequality requires a consideration of both. This section ends with a comment by Laura Parisi. She concludes that rather than promoting gender equality, the World Bank’s approach reifies masculinist neoclassical/liberal ideology. Observing that the term “engendering” can also mean “facilitating” or “enabling,” she argues that its use in the title of the report serves to divert attention away from the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and sexuality in the development dialogue. The report focuses on promoting neoclassical economic development rather than gendering development processes. Like women in development frameworks (WID), the World Bank seeks to include women in existing development projects rather than challenging the notion of development itself.

Explorations: future directions of feminist research The chapters in this section of the book briefly explore further directions for feminist economic research, activity, cooperation, and dialog on engendering development. It begins with an essay by Drucilla K. Barker, which explores some of the methodological challenges and dilemmas facing feminist scholars and practitioners who engage with large development institutions. She briefly summarizes some of the history of feminist economic engagement with gender, development, and transnational institutions. Throughout this history, feminist policy-makers and academics have endeavoured to start from the perspective of poor women and other marginalized people. The question is, how can they, located as they are in places of privilege such as academe or transnational organizations, discern what this perspective is. This chapter considers some possible answers to this query and concludes with a discussion of disciplinary and institutional power in feminist economics. Feminist economists are both insiders and outsiders in institutions such as the World Bank, a contradictory position

Feminist economics and the World Bank 9 that ultimately makes intervention and transformation possible. Some possible transformations and interventions are discussed in the next three chapters. Mariama Williams argues for feminist intervention in the coherence framework being constructed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO). The coherence framework coordinates the activities of these institutions in order to ensure consistency and complementarity in international economic policy-making, and it promotes trade liberalization as a tool for achieving economic development and growth. This should be troubling to feminists because the legally binding trade agreements of the WTO are already superseding national macroeconomic policies, regulatory regimes, and social welfare policies. The coherence framework being pursued will speed up and strengthen this process. Williams argues that the farreaching influence of the policies prescribed by the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO, backed up by a coherence framework, will not guarantee sustainable development nor will it foster a gender-balanced approach to economic growth. Feminist economists need to analyze and promote awareness of the impact of the coherence framework on social reproduction and social relations. The chapter by Brigitte Young provides an insight into promises and limitations of integrating gender into a high-level parliamentary report. In response to increasing controversies regarding the political, social, and economic effects of globalization, the German Parliament set up a commission to systematically investigate issues relating to globalization. Its mandate was to study the economic, social, and political impacts of globalization. Gender-mainstreaming was central to this mandate. Young was the only woman on the commission and provides the readers with an insider’s view of the processes through which gender was incorporated into a parliamentary report. Diane Elson’s chapter concludes this section. She critiques the treatment of women’s rights in Engendering Development on both a conceptual and an empirical level and offers an alternative account. The articulation of women’s rights in the human rights declarations and treaties of the United Nations, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), informs the conceptual alternative. In this context, women’s rights are ends in themselves and subordinate to economic policy. Her empirical alternative focuses on outcomes rather than inputs and brings in new data sources to evaluate the progress. The evidence presented belies the report’s rosy picture of progress toward gender equality and suggests instead that there has been regress rather than progress for women’s economic and social rights in many countries. Having no interest in rosy pictures, the authors in this anthology present complex and nuanced analyses of the social relations of gender in a global context. We hope these insights will inform policy-making and motivate further research.

10 Drucilla K. Barker and Edith Kuiper

References Wolfensohn, James D. (2001) “Foreword”, in Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice, New York: Oxford University Press. World Bank (2001) Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice, New York: Oxford University Press.

Part I

Gender and the World Bank An institutional history and assessment


The World Bank, development, adjustment and gender equality Zafiris Tzannatos

Introduction Though the world is integrating in many respects and location does not matter, capital constraints and gender inequality still matter big time in developing countries which are the focus of operations of the World Bank (from now on, the Bank). And location may also matter for the Bank: being situated between the International Monetary Fund and the White House, the Bank has not infrequently attracted the charge that it is an agent of uncritical liberal policies or an arm of US economic and political interests and more broadly foreign policy (Wade 2000). Thus, the “initial conditions” for an objective or at least a generally acceptable assessment of what the Bank does in the area of gender (or any other area) are not promising: the Bank’s resources are limited,1 critics of mainstream economics are many (though often short of providing a unified alternative), and the efforts by the remaining superpower to influence international outcomes are on the increase especially post-September 11, 2001. Against this context it is easy to come up with a verdict of failure. This is so because, first, the scale of poverty (hence development) is huge: two billion people live on less than $2/day. Second, any deviation even from the simplistic notion of what unfettered markets can achieve in theory must encounter the difficult issue of what the correct mix of public/private shares should be, when and in what sectors. Third, the charge that the Bank can swing at the wish of any single government needs to take into account the Bank’s collective governance structure in which practically all countries, industrialized and developing ones, are represented.2 Finally, the Bank is a changing institution, and its assessment – friendly or critical – must take into account the time period in which evaluations are undertaken: the recent statement “The Washington Consensus has been dead for years. It’s been replaced by all sorts of other consensuses” may have come late but is no less than a revolution in the Bank’s history (Wolfensohn 2004).3 These methodological, political and philosophical issues have not been resolved in the six decades of the Bank’s existence and are beyond the ability of a single chapter to summarize them or come up with definitive conclusions. In less ambitious terms, this chapter focuses on the activities and approach of a living

14 Zafiris Tzannatos international organization, the Bank, which tries to accomplish its mission of poverty reduction amidst conditions of changing economic realities, improvements in knowledge (including richer economic analyses), political realignments and international flux. The chapter starts with a review of the Bank’s genesis and its changing focus from reconstruction and structural adjustment to poverty reduction and more comprehensive approaches to development. It then focuses on the evolution of gender issues within the Bank in terms of philosophy, internal organization and activities. Given that many criticisms of the Bank evolve around the issue of human rights, the chapter discusses how the Bank’s economic mandate positions it versus a rights-based approach. Finally, the chapter summarizes some assessments of the Bank’s involvement with gender issues.

The Bank Genesis and structure The World Bank was created at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944, to facilitate the flow of international capital to a war-torn Europe.4 Following the successful growth of Europe, the Bank subsequently expanded its operations in developing countries and the official name became “International Bank for Reconstruction and Development” (IBRD).5 The name “World Bank” came to be used for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA – see below). These two organizations provide low-interest loans, interest-free credit, and grants to developing countries. The World Bank has now evolved into the World Bank Group (WBG) that consists of five closely associated institutions (the year is when each institution was established): 1 2 3 4 5

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (1945); The International Finance Corporation (IFC) (1956);6 The International Development Association (IDA) (1960); The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) (1966); The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) (1988).

All five specialize in different aspects of development but all focus on the “overarching goal” of the Bank, which is poverty reduction. The Bank is owned by 184 countries and is run like a cooperative.7 Member countries are represented by a Board of Governors. The Governors (typically ministers of finance or development) carry ultimate decision-making power in the Bank. They meet annually to decide on key Bank policy issues, admit or

World Bank, development and adjustment 15 suspend country members, decide on changes in the authorized capital stock, determine the distribution of net income, and endorse financial statements and budgets. Because the Governors meet only once a year, they delegate specific duties to their Executive Directors. The Bank currently has 24 Executive Directors who work onsite and constitute a “resident board” based in its headquarters in Washington, DC. The five largest shareholders (the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France) have one Executive Director each as do some others (such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia). Other member countries are represented in groups (“multi country constituencies”) by the remaining Executive Directors. The Executive Directors and the President of the Bank – who serves as Chairman of the Board – are responsible for the conduct of the Bank’s general operations and perform their duties under powers delegated by the Board of Governors. While the Bank is best known as a financier, one of its most important roles is in the provision of analysis and advice. In this respect the role of the Bank as an “intellectual actor” has been significant. In short, one can think of the Bank today not narrowly as a bank but rather a United Nations’ specialized (that is, development) agency. It is a complex institution as (a) its operations cover practically every aspect of development; (b) despite its focus on economics, its cooperative nature implies that its Executive Directors (acting on behalf of the Governors) bring into the Bank’s policies and operations the political views of the countries they represent; and (c) political considerations aside, the Bank is often stranded by conflicting guidance provided by economics – the dismal science.8 Internal dissatisfaction with the effectiveness of its operations as well as external criticisms coupled with changes in the economic paradigm (from Keynesianism and fixed exchange rates to monetarism and structural adjustment and then adjustment with a human face) have led the Bank to evolve over time and also to introduce internal and external oversight and monitoring mechanisms which range from objective assessments to (what amounts to) policing. More specifically, the Bank has a number of internal and external monitoring systems which include: 1 2

3 4


The Operations Evaluations Department (OED) which reports directly to member countries on the Bank’s performance;9 An independent inspection panel which responds to concerns of people affected by Bank projects and ensures that safeguard policies are being enforced; An Internal Quality Assurance Group (QAG) which monitors projects during implementation when adjustments can still be made; An Internal Auditing Department which oversees risk management and internal controls in accordance with the Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing of the Institute of Internal Auditors; A corruption and fraud investigation unit (called the Department of

16 Zafiris Tzannatos

6 7

Institutional Integrity, INT) that investigates allegations of fraud and corruption within the Bank Group or in connection with Bank-financed contracts, and any allegations of unethical behavior by Bank staff; The Ethics Office which reports directly to the Bank’s President and is responsible for outreach and communications on ethics matters; and A Quality Assurance and Compliance Unit which gives advice on safeguard issues in projects and ensures the consistent implementation of safeguard policies, such as the policy on indigenous people or the policy on involuntary resettlement.

In addition the Bank undertakes periodic assessments of its overall operations as well as of more general development assistance. For example, in 2002 the Bank undertook a study of the effectiveness of development assistance over the past half-century (World Bank 2002a).10 Through its own learning based on the results of these monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, as well as changes in economic realities and thinking, the Bank started moving away from supporting narrow infrastructure projects, and its mission evolved into poverty reduction incorporating more explicitly the gender dimension, as the next sections indicate. But the process has been neither linear nor smooth. The Bank went through a phase in the 1980s when its policies were derived from what came to be known as the “Washington Consensus”11 while its operations focused on structural adjustment without explicitly incorporating social concerns (in a belief that the benefits of macroeconomic adjustment will quickly “trickle down” to the social sectors).12 Then, by 2004, the Washington Consensus was declared dead. This long journey is discussed in the next sections. Changing focus: from reconstruction to adjustment and poverty reduction Postwar international economic order was very much shaped by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Bank. The creation of the former two organizations was based on rather clear justifications. The monetary disorder of the interwar period had taught policymakers the value of international monetary cooperation. Similarly, there was a need for a multilateral mechanism to induce “closed economy/inward looking” governments to commit themselves to nondiscriminatory trade policies. Thus the debate surrounding the creation of the IMF and GATT was based primarily on how they should operate, not over what they should do. In contrast, the writing of the Articles of Association (constitution) of the Bank required a lot of elbow grease: why is there a need for a multilateral institution to lend to governments when capital had been traditionally channeled through private capital markets or loans and grants provided on a bilateral basis? Thus the debate surrounding the creation of the Bank was (and still remains) very much about what it should do, not just how it should do it. The four add-on

World Bank, development and adjustment 17 institutions to what was originally one World Bank and the switching of focus from reconstruction to development to adjustment and later on to poverty reduction and a more comprehensive approach to development attest to the struggle of an organization that tries to define what it does. A critical junction in the Bank’s history was the appointment as its president of Robert McNamara, formerly US Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam era. During his tenure at the Bank (1968–81), the Bank shifted from an emphasis on infrastructure to agriculture and rural development in an attempt to address people’s basic needs, particularly the rural poor. Poverty was adopted “big time” into the Bank’s thinking in 1972 backed by the admission that 40 percent of the world’s population lived in absolute poverty. During the rest of the decade the Bank’s work on poverty was very much linked to human development which culminated with the 1980 World Development Report13 on Poverty. During the McNamara era, the Bank promoted the view that directing investment (in basic infrastructure and human resources development) toward the poor through redistribution would contribute to economic growth as well as to poverty reduction. It should be noted that it was during McNamara’s era that the Bank first introduced structural and sectoral adjustment lending (in 1979)14 though the Bank was not then part of the general movement towards supply-side economics that was already taking place in the academic profession since the 1970s. The adoption of supply-side economics came to be a prominent feature of the Bank in the 1980s. An appropriate instrument (adjustment lending) was already in place when the steady advance of poverty reduction was halted by the global economic crisis of the early 1980s, soon after McNamara left the Bank. In fact adjustment (or policy-based) lending as a broad instrument of aid was widely used by the Bank during the early years after World War II, but thereafter the focus shifted to investment lending. In the years after McNamara left the Bank, which coincided with the Ronald Reagan presidency in the United States, program lending was resurrected and poverty was moved to the back burner (Stern and Ferreira 1997: 549). Under a new president (A. W. Clausen, 1981–86) the Bank changed its poverty focus and gave less prominence to measures hinging on ideological stances (such as population control). Attention switched mainly on to achieving growth through structural adjustment. Adjustment, in terms of its theoretical justification or results on the ground, became a thorny issue for the Bank in the 1980s. The charge here is that the Bank directed reforms in a specific direction (the Washington Consensus) through its lending program, policy dialogue, and selective research (Edwards 1997). The developing countries’ massive move toward trade liberalization and structural adjustment in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been associated by many analysts with the role of the Bank (and the IMF). In addition, there were “less impressive performances” of the Bank throughout the 1980s associated with the mounting levels of debt in developing countries (where more stringent monitoring by the financial institutions was called for), the reluctance of client countries to adopt the Bank’s policies (bypassed through “conditionality”),

18 Zafiris Tzannatos pessimism that the resumption of growth will be quick (slow “trickle down”) and a neglect of environmental issues. Somewhat paradoxically, in the 1980s there was little emphasis on cost-benefit analysis and even that was in decline (Little and Mirrlees 1991) notwithstanding the fact that the Bank’s focus was to “get the prices right.” The worse-than-anticipated effects of adjustment policies, if not noticed internally, were noticed by others. For example, UNICEF’s Adjustment with a Human Face (Cornia et al. 1987) and UNDP’s Human Development Report (1990) called for a richer approach to development than just focusing on structural adjustment programs in a hopeful pursue of economic growth. In fact, during the tenure of the next president (Barber B. Conable, 1986–91), the Bank continued seeing economic growth brought about by conventional policies as a precondition for reducing poverty but also acknowledged that supplementary actions were necessary. This was reflected in the 1990 World Development Report as a two-part strategy, namely, to increase the income of the poor through broad-based growth and ensure that the poor had access to basic social services. This World Development Report also noted transfers and safety nets as important complements to the basic two-part strategy.15 The fiftieth anniversary of the genesis of the Bank (1994) provided an additional impetus for renewing demands for a radical transformation in the Bank’s approach and practices. In the meantime (1992) “a damning document came to be written” (Kapur et al. 1997). The document was commissioned by yet another president of the Bank (Lewis Preston, 1991–95). The so-called Wapenhans Report (Effective Implementation: Key to Development Impact, 1992) was an in-house assessment of the Bank’s entire loan portfolio (World Bank 1992b). The gist of the Wapenhans Report was that a large and increasing number of Bank projects were failing, even when assessed only on narrow economic criteria. The “50 Years is Enough” campaign and the appointment of a new president (James D. Wolfensohn, 1995–2005) resulted in greater attention being given to openness, accountability, debt reduction, participatory approaches, institutions and an end to environmentally destructive lending and structural adjustment. The experience with adjustment lending and its mixed outcomes during this period lent impetus to the Bank’s internal learning process. Several OED and Bank reviews analyzed the economic and social impact of adjustment and fed back the lessons learnt into the design of adjustment operations. Today, internal evaluations no longer shy away from admitting that the performance of adjustment operations has been mixed, especially during the 1980s.16 They also indicate that heavy reliance on conditionality was ineffective for several reasons: it can be difficult to monitor whether a government has in fact fulfilled the conditions, particularly when external shocks muddy the picture; governments may revert to old practices as soon as the money has been disbursed; and when assessments are subjective, donors may have an incentive to emphasize progress in order to keep programs moving. They finally notice the difficulty in securing country commitment to reform: naturally, governments change over time and do not

World Bank, development and adjustment 19 Percent 100





0 1974











Figure 2.1 Projects rated as achieving satisfactory outcomes, 1974–2001. Source: World Bank, internal evaluations.

feel obliged to fulfill their predecessors’ policies. It is thus not surprising that only 60 percent of adjustment operations achieved (per OED evaluations) satisfactory or better outcomes in the 1980s, a figure that rose to above 80 percent in the 1990s following design improvements and increased country selectivity based on lessons of experience (Figure 2.1). Similarly, the issue of insufficient attention to the social sectors, which was a particular problem of early adjustment operations, is now given more attention. Though the Bank is still thoroughly committed to the statement that “on balance poor people benefit from adjustment and reform as much as other groups,” it does now recognize that “even successful, market-friendly reforms have benefits and costs that are distributed unevenly, especially in the near term, and the design and implementation of adjustment operations need to take this factor into account.” Irrespective of whether the Bank could have done better in the past or can do better today, it is very much a different organization than it was in the 1980s. In the 1980s the Bank’s support for education, health, nutrition and other social services accounted for less than 6 percent of its lending but exceeded 18 percent in the 1990s (World Bank 2001a: 5). Today the Bank is the world’s largest external funder of education and of the fight against AIDS, while it remains among the most important ones of health programs. Similarly, since 1988, the Bank has become one of the largest international funders of biodiversity projects and its environment strategy covers from poor people in rural areas in developing countries to broader issues of climate change, forests and water resources.

20 Zafiris Tzannatos In 1996, the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) launched the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to reduce the external debt of the world’s poorest, most indebted countries, thus enabling them to reorient their budgetary priorities toward key social and human development sectors.17 The way the Bank is doing business also changed over time with increasing reliance on stakeholder participation and partnerships, both local and international.18 Unlike in earlier periods when most projects were prepared and supervised from Washington, the Bank has now offices in 70 countries around the world that reach out to and collaborate with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a variety of areas ranging from education to the environment and AIDS. In recent years, more than two-thirds of development projects approved by the Bank involved the active participation of NGOs in their implementation, and most of its country strategies benefited from consultations with civil society. The Bank has also increased its activities in the areas of corruption and conflict-affected economies.19 More recently (1999) the Bank introduced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) approach which was approved by the Boards of both the IMF and the Bank. This approach is based on poverty reduction strategies prepared by the countries themselves and serve as a framework for development assistance. The underlying goals of the PRSP are to ensure broad-based country ownership of poverty reduction strategies; develop strategies that take a comprehensive, long-term perspective; focus on results that matter for the poor; and build stronger partnerships between low-income countries and the international donor community. An internal Bank review of the PRSP process claimed that there seems to be widespread agreement (among national PRSP teams, donors and civil society organizations) that in low-income countries with active PRSP programs there is an increased emphasis on “pro-poor spending.” While these results are encouraging, this is obviously a narrow measure of success. It is important to bear in mind that these budgetary reallocations will translate into improved poverty outcomes only if there are corresponding improvements in budget execution and service delivery. All this does not mean that the situation is rosy. A more interesting issue relates to whether the much-heralded international debt relief policy in the 1990s had an impact on economic growth. A recent independent study found that international debt relief in the 1990s had only limited efficiency, effectiveness and relevance (Ministry of Foreign Affairs (The Netherlands), 2003). The amounts of debt relief were too small to start with, were given in the wrong modalities and were accompanied by too many new loans. Only in a minority of countries has debt relief led to visible stock or flow effects and in none has the debt burden become sustainable. Debt relief has rarely contributed to economic growth, particularly in the poorest and most highly indebted countries. This may suggest that the inflow of new loans from multilateral institutions to HIPC threatens their long-term debt sustainability. There is an element of déjà vu in all this as it resembles the case of structural adjustment: sound framework and intentions but perhaps too good to be true given the inherent conflict of

World Bank, development and adjustment 21 interest when the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) act as both gatekeepers and creditors, a conflict that entails the risk that countries receive aid precisely because they have already a high debt burden.

The Bank and gender equality The Bank’s thinking and activities on gender (or other thematic) areas20 can be only as good as its overall philosophy and quality of operations. In situations like those outlined in the previous section, when the Bank shifted to broad macroeconomy issues accompanied by an ideological belief that all that is needed is to just get some liberal economic fundamentals right, gender issues were sidestepped. Indeed, the Bank has been relatively slow in addressing the role of women and broader gender issues in the economic development process. Academic attention on gender issues may be said to have started with Esther Boserup’s seminal publication on Women’s Role in Economic Development (1970). Around that time, gender anti-discrimination policies started being introduced (at least in the majority of OECD economies). The Bank created a position of an Advisor for Women in Development only in 1977 (Table 2.1). It then gradually started paying some attention to gender issues and issued the Operational Manual Statement 2.20 21 (OMS 2.20) in 1984 (World Bank 1984). This statement presented an overview of the general objectives and key features of the appraisal of investment projects. Within this broad framework, the statement discussed how to investigate and address the impacts of investment (not adjustment) projects on women.22 The Bank’s regularly published statistical compendium (World Development Indicators) included information on some female indicators (such as maternal mortality, education and health) for the first time in 1988 at a time when only one-quarter of Bank reports included references to women in development. Then things starting changing relatively fast, for example, two years later substantial discussion or recommendations on women in development were included in 62 percent of all economic and sector reports (ESW) produced by the Bank. This was partly because of external pressure either directly (for example, the “50 Years Is Enough” Campaign) or indirectly (for example, the publication of critical research on gender, adjustment and macroeconomics). Viewed from heterodox macroeconomics and feminist analyses, the Bank’s operations did not score highly (Çagatay et al. 1995). A special issue of the journal World Development 23 contained papers arguing that, while progress has been made in the inclusion of reproductive work into national income accounting and gender-disaggregated analysis of structural adjustment policies and programs (Benería 1995), there were major shortcomings in the way gender issues were conceptualized (or not) in the macroeconomic approaches and programs of the World Bank (and IMF). Emphasis on gender issues started increasing relatively fast in the first half of the 1990s – partly in preparation for the Bank’s participation in the Beijing

22 Zafiris Tzannatos Table 2.1 Evolution of the World Bank’s attention to gender and development issues Year



First Women in Development Advisor is appointed.


Operational Manual Statement 2.20 addresses the impact of Bank assistance on women as part of project appraisal for certain types of projects.


Women in Development (WID) Unit is created.


Operational Directive (OD) on poverty reduction recommends that women’s issues be considered in designing poverty reduction programs.


In the Policy Paper Enhancing Women’s Participation in Economic Development the shift to gender analysis becomes visible. Operational Policy (OP) 4.20 is issued establishing the goals of reducing gender disparities and enhancing women’s participation in economic development.


The publication Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy explicitly recognizes that Governments can play a significant role in the reduction of gender inequalities.


External Gender Consultative Group is established.


Gender and Development Board is established.


Position of head of the Gender and Development Board is raised from a chief/manager to a director level.


The publication of Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice provides an analytical framework for gender inequalities and derives implications for relevant policies. Publication of Integration of Gender Into the World Bank’s Work: A Strategy for Action.


Operational Policy 4.20 revised. Bank Procedure 4.20 statement issued.

Conference (1995).24 By 1994, the Bank’s Board endorsed for the first time a Policy Paper in the area of gender (Enhancing Women’s Participation in Economic Development), and the Bank issued an Operational Policy statement on the gender dimension of development (Operational Policy 4.20). The Bank’s policy was to focus operationally on five sectors (agriculture, education, health, financial services and labor) but did not – and still does not – require that all investment programs address gender issues. Structural adjustment programs – representing at least one-third of total Bank commitments – were not included under the Operational Policy.

World Bank, development and adjustment 23 In 1995 the Bank prepared a report Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy which followed a simple but powerful line.25 It first observed that gender inequalities persist or, alternatively (though not so bluntly) that “trickle down” takes time. It then discussed how inequalities hamper growth and concluded that public policies can have a significant effect on development. More importantly, the report argued that such policies were not to be restricted only to economic ones but to be extended to other areas (such as the legal framework). The report was part of the preparation for the Bank’s participation at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 and was followed by another report (Advancing Gender Equality: From Concept to Action) also published in the same year. The latter report provided an overview of the Bank’s support to the efforts of member countries to integrate gender equality into the development efforts and outlined how gender issues are identified and incorporated into Bank-supported projects and programs. In its “Beijing+5” report (World Bank 2000) the Bank noted three main points: disparities persist; they are costly; and rights and institutions are important complements to growth policies. The report recommended establishing legal, economic and social institutions, including equality of rights, promoting growth and undertaking active measures to promote equality in the command of resources and political voice. Though these recommendations were not derived from a human rights perspective, they did nevertheless acknowledge the link between economics and rights – an issue discussed below. The link between gender equality and poverty reduction was forcefully made in another publication (the 2000/2001 World Development Report, Attacking Poverty) that argued that gender relations affect all aspects of poverty, including income, opportunity, security and empowerment (World Bank 2001b). Examples cited were that girls in poor families may receive lower quality nutrition, less health care and inferior education than their brothers. Likewise, female household members often have less access to and control over the household’s productive resources and income than do male family members. Overall, the report questioned at times the relevance of the standard neoclassical economic theory (whereby households are usually regarded as sharing a single utility function and an equitable distribution of resources and well-being) while results of studies based on less conventional paradigms were openly acknowledged. By far the most important analytical basis for the Bank’s involvement in gender issues was included in the report Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice (World Bank 2001c).26 The subtitle is in itself indicative of the Bank’s broadening its approach to the study of gender issues. The report focused on gender inequalities and their economic and social implications in developing and transition economies. It examined the conceptual and empirical links between gender equality, public policy and development outcomes, and made a strong case for applying a gender perspective to the design of development policies. It argued that societies that discriminate by gender pay a high price in terms of their ability to develop and reduce poverty. The report recognized that

24 Zafiris Tzannatos there is growing evidence that several aspects of gender relations – the gender-based division of labor, disparities between males and females in power and resources, and gender biases in rights and entitlements – act to undermine economic growth and reduce the well-being of men, women, and children. Gender-based divisions of labor and gender inequalities also contribute to poverty. The report spent some time in identifying (or restating findings from previous research) that the primary channels through which gender systems affect growth are the productivity of labor and the allocative efficiency of the economy (specifically through investments in human capital, especially girls’ and women’s education27 and health), investments in physical capital (especially women’s access to capital) and the functioning of markets and institutions.28 The report also emphasized the beneficial effects on improving women’s rights, resources and voice (World Bank 2001c: Chapter 2) as well as the role of infrastructure, equal access to productive assets and resources, and quality of governance. As far as the implications for countries are concerned, the report proposed a threepart approach that emphasizes institutional reforms based on a foundation of equal rights for women and men, policies for sustained economic development, and active measures to redress persistent gender disparities. The Bank’s gender strategy By the start of the millennium, the World Bank was in a position to recognize from its own learning that its effectiveness in helping member countries can increase by paying more attention to gender issues. The time was ripe to come up with a more coherent and holistic gender approach. This materialized with the discussion of the Bank-wide gender mainstreaming strategy at the Board of Directors in 2001 (World Bank 2001d). The Gender Strategy called for a selective integration of gender issues into the Bank’s work based on the readiness of countries. It thus adopted a soft-pedal approach29 towards the clients (developing countries). It proposed to work with governments and civil society in client countries, and with other donors, to diagnose the gender-related barriers to and opportunities for poverty reduction and sustainable development; and will then identify and support appropriate actions that will reduce these barriers and capitalize on the opportunities. The Gender Strategy thus envisages that the Bank should play a supportive vis-à-vis member countries creating an enabling environment. More specifically, the basic process for the implementation of the Gender Strategy has three steps: preparation of periodic, multi-sectoral Country Gender Assessments (CGAs – see below); development and implementation of relevant policy and operational interventions; and monitoring the implementation and impacts of these policies

World Bank, development and adjustment 25 and interventions. The Bank thus would play an advisory role towards creating an enabling environment and, where governments choose particular genderresponsive actions involving Bank assistance, the Bank would provide additional support for changing the gender patterns that are deemed to be costly to growth, poverty reduction and human well-being. The process of mainstreaming gender issues within the Bank is to be implemented through four actions: integration of the gender dimension into analytical work; support of the integration of gender issues into Bank operations; alignment of resources with the new Gender Strategy; and development and implementation of systems to monitor and evaluate processes and impacts.30 The implementation of the Gender Strategy thus involves a potentially wide range of activities that range from analytical work to policy advice and lending. The Country Gender Assessments A key component of the Gender Strategy is the Country Gender Assessment (CGA), that is, a study analyzing country-level gender critical areas in which gender-responsive actions are likely to enhance growth and reduce poverty. A CGA would normally include: •

A profile of: (i) the different socio-economic roles of males and females, including their participation in both the market and household economies; (ii) gender disparities in access to, control over and use of assets and productive resources; (iii) gender disparities in human development indicators; (iv) inequalities between males and females in the ability to participate in development decision-making at the local and national levels; and (v) laws, institutional frameworks, norms and other societal practices that lead (implicitly or explicitly) to gender discrimination and/or gender inequality; the country context, including the country’s policies, priorities, legal and regulatory framework and institutional arrangements for implementing its gender and development goals; and a set of gender-responsive priority policy and operational interventions that are important for poverty reduction and development effectiveness.

The CGA may be a stand-alone document or a section of another report. It may contain original analytical work or may simply refer to such work, produced by the Bank or by other agencies (government, international, academic). Operational Policy/Bank Procedure on Gender The developments since the mid-1990s culminated with the issuing of a new version of the existing Operational Policy (OP) as well as the introduction of a Bank Procedure (BP) on Gender and Development (OP/BP 4.20). The foundation for both the OP and the BP was indeed the Gender Strategy, especially

26 Zafiris Tzannatos the basic process of creating an enabling environment for country-led, countryspecific strategies with the Country Gender Assessments as the basic instrument. OPs are Bank policies that follow from the Bank’s Articles of Agreement and the general conditions and polices approved by the Board of Executive Directors. They establish parameters for the conduct of operations and are focused statements of policies. The OP on Gender and Development (OP 4.20) includes a statement of philosophy, clearly linking the OP to the Bank’s poverty mandate and emphasizing the need for sustainability. The OP also includes a statement of policy for all Bank assistance, detailing how the Bank will work with its clients, and a commitment to monitoring and evaluation. The new OP finally stresses the need to cross reference other relevant Bank policies, such as those on poverty reduction, investment and adjustment lending, and project supervision. The objective of Bank Procedures ( BPs) is to explain how Bank staff are to carry out the policies set out in the OPs. Hence, BPs spell out the procedures and documentation required to ensure Bank-wide consistency and quality. The BP 4.20 focuses on the procedural steps for the preparation of CGAs and lays out the minimum content of a CGA. The BP also prescribes that consultation with country stakeholders is a central feature of the CGA process. Included in the BP are also steps for integrating the CGA findings into the Bank’s assistance program for a country and for monitoring and evaluation. In conclusion, the Strategy, the Country Gender Assessments, the Operational Policy and the Bank Procedure provide a clear framework and instruments for the Bank to deal with gender issues in the context of development and poverty reduction. The internal arrangements for dealing with gender issues are examined separately below. Gender and family issues within the World Bank The internal treatment of gender equality was naturally perceived by the Bank as key to its credibility when discussing gender issues with developing countries in the sense of aligning preaching to practices. In 1992 the Bank commissioned an internal report (the Stern Report31) that provided its first action plan for recruiting, retaining, and promoting women at decision-making levels. It had no less than 33 recommendations and introduced numerical targets. For example, the ratio of women in middle level management jobs was to increase to 27 percent by 1997 (a target reached before that date) while the target to increase women in top jobs was to increase from 7 percent to 15 percent (this was met by 1997). The report also recommended more attention to work-life issues. Many of the ideas of those days have subsequently become reality as AWS (Alternative Work Schedule),32 part-time work options, telecommuting, and supportive services such as advice on child care, elder care, housing, education.33 Additional recommendations related to sexual harassment. Since 1992, the Bank has adopted strong sexual harassment policies and created a network of Anti-Harassment Advisors as well as an integrated Conflict Resolution System; and has provided guidelines on Working with Respect in the Bank Group

World Bank, development and adjustment 27 to every staff member. Many of the gender issues are now rightly addressed in the broader context of diversity as many of the strategies for improving women’s representation are applicable to other subgroups. There was a follow-up to the Stern Report in 1998 (World Bank 1998b). The new report reviewed pay, promotion and performance with a view to identifying and redressing remaining gender differences among staff. It was based on econometric analysis and also a qualitative assessment undertaken by external (consulting) firms. The report noted that while differences in pay still exist, there was a marked decline in the unexplained part of salary gender differentials from about 17–25 percent in 1992 down to 6 percent in 1998. It identified that the main source of current differences is not discrimination in promotion but at the recruitment stage (grade assignment at entry and resulting salary offers).

Comparisons and evaluations The International Finance Corporation (IFC) Recall, the World Bank refers conventionally to two organizations: IBRD and IDA. The discussion so far referred to these two units but the role of the private arm of the Bank (IFC) is potentially increasing in the era of globalization and the greater role of the private sector. Though the Bank and IFC share the same Board of Directors, their policies are not always identical. For example, IFC does not have an operational policy on gender issues. Still, all IFC projects must comply with applicable environmental, social and disclosure policies designed to ensure that the business areas in which it invests are implemented in an environmentally, socially and financially responsible manner. The IFC’s manual on public consultation (World Bank 1998a)34 explicitly states that consulting women and being gender sensitive are key components of a successful consultation program. In terms of monitoring results, IFC focuses on areas such as job creation for females working in industry and small-to-medium enterprises; access to credit for poor and low-income women; increased access to affordable education for poor and middle-income females; and increased opportunities, advice and financing for female entrepreneurs. Thus, technically, the Bank’s Gender Strategy is of limited relevance to the way IFC conducts its business. For example, IFC does not have to conduct the same kind of countrylevel analytical studies that the Bank (IBRD and IDA) conduct. Still, there may be areas where the Bank and IFC can collaborate with IFC, for example on issues of common interest such as female entrepreneurship or women-owned businesses. Comparison with other multilateral and bilateral development agencies The Bank’s current approach to gender equality and its Gender Strategy compare favorably to what other multilateral and bilateral organizations do (see Table 2.2).

28 Zafiris Tzannatos Table 2.2 Gender policies of multilateral donor agencies Institution

Gender-related objective


Increased support for functional literacy programs; elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education; infant and maternal mortality; one of two cross-cutting issues in four areas of focus. The focus is on women.


Improved status of women and elimination of discrimination is one of five strategic objectives. From 1998, it adopted gender mainstreaming as the key strategy to promote “ gender equity,” but the focus remains the improvement of the status of women with concurrence and cooperation of men.


No gender considerations explicitly indicated.


Fuller integration of women into all stages of the development process and improvement in their socioeconomic situation through a gendered analysis.


Gender equality and advancement of women. Focus on equality of capacities and opportunities to ensure that women and men participate equally in the development process as agents and beneficiaries.


Reduced gender disparity and increased women’s participation in economic development as part of overall poverty reduction strategy.

Source: World Bank (OED), 2001a: 7.

In fact, the Bank was the first multilateral donor organization to mandate consideration of impacts on women as part of project appraisal. However, other multilaterals, like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), African Development Bank (AfDB), and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have adopted policies and process-related goals focused on increasing economic opportunities and reducing barriers to the economic and social well-being of women. Their approaches are justified, as in the case of the Bank, on the grounds of efficiency, equity and poverty reduction. Evaluations The Operations Evaluation Department (OED) undertook two recent assessments in the area of gender equality: Integrating Gender in World Bank Assistance (World Bank 2001a) and The Gender Dimension of Bank Assistance: An Evaluation of Results (World Bank 2002b). Both noted progress and identified areas of improvement. The first report examined how the Bank has performed at country level. It noted that, on the positive side, gender issues have been better integrated in the Bank’s work since the 1994 policy was introduced. At regional level, some regions (such as Africa and South Asia) achieved better integration in their

World Bank, development and adjustment 29 Table 2.3 Gender analysis in Bank projects by sector 1988–1999 (%) Sector group

Investment only % of projects approved with gender analysis

Investment and adjustment % of projects approved with gender analysis

Population, health and nutrition Agriculture Education Water supply and sanitation Social protection Electric power and energy Environment Finance Industry Mining Multisector Public sector management Transportation Urban development Oil and gas Telecommunications

89 56 68 34 73 7 34 16 14 12 13 11 7 30 4 0

88 53 66 34 74 7 34 12 13 17 24 11 7 29 4 0

Weighted average



Source: World Bank (2001a).

country programs. The report also noted that the Bank’s analytical work in these regions is becoming clearly more gender aware. Improvements in the other regions (such as East Europe and Central Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean) were either more recent or lacking. In the health and education sectors, two of the five sectors of focus identified in the 1994 strategy paper, the Bank has progressed well. In another sector, agriculture, the Bank has made progress, but there still remains a need for uniform treatment of critical issues such as access to and control over productive assets and services. The report concluded that there remains a long way to go in terms of implementation especially in the so-called hard sectors (see Table 2.3). The second report examined the results of the Bank’s activities during the previous decade. It addressed the extent to which the Bank helped to (a) reduce gender disparities in the education and health sectors; ( b) increase the participation of women in economic activities; and (c) influence institutional changes that support the advancement of women. The evaluation was based on 12 countries and, like the 2001 report mentioned above, found satisfactory results in the education and health sector. Though the report acknowledges that causality is difficult to establish, it found weak or mixed results with respect to the other two areas (economic participation and institutional aspects). The report noted that projects tended to have better on-the-ground impacts when gender issues had been analyzed at the country and project levels, and genderdifferentiated needs or impacts were recognized in project and program design.

30 Zafiris Tzannatos More recently (2003) a monitoring report on the implementation of the Gender Strategy during its first year (World Bank 2003a) noted that five CGAs were prepared (in addition to the 7 CGAs already completed) and another 26 were planned. This (38 CGAs) compares to about 100 countries that are active borrowers of the Bank. While this is encouraging, the report noted that of 39 core diagnostic reports prepared since the Gender Strategy was issued only seven had integrated the gender dimension into their analyses. The situation was better (in terms of increased attention to gender issues) in terms of lending, especially in selected sectors such as education, health and social protection. The report identified as challenges the need to increase the attention to gender issues in analytical and lending activities, ability to work with partners, and the evaluations not just of inputs but of outcomes. Needs versus rights The objective of the Bank’s gender and development policy is to assist member countries to reduce poverty and enhance economic growth, human well-being, and development effectiveness by addressing the gender disparities and inequalities that are barriers to development, and by assisting member countries in formulating and implementing their gender and development goals. In other words, in the economic context within which the Bank operates it assists member countries to design gender-sensitive policies and programs to ensure that overall development efforts are directed to attain impacts that are equitable and beneficial for both men and women. Still, as an international organization, the Bank may need to go further than this as it cannot ignore key universal declarations (such as, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). In addressing human rights issues the Bank has traditionally exercised caution.35 In principle, the Bank’s Articles of Association prohibit interference in the political affairs of its members. Also, the Bank’s clients are sovereign. Finally, the Bank needs to exercise restraint in its use of conditionality. Despite its economic focus, the Bank is increasingly becoming more vocal (though more often through its officers than in official forms) about the links between the economic participation of poor people and equality in dignity and rights (Stern 2003).36 A series of Bank publications (such as World Development Report 2000/01) recognize the importance of fair and inclusive institutions, empowerment, accountability, transparency and participation. The Bank supports the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus which endorse respect for human rights as part of a multifaceted response to the development challenge. The Bank would argue that the objectives of sustainable poverty reduction, human wellbeing and development effectiveness underlie its operational policies, including specifically those aimed at promoting gender equity and protection of vulnerable

World Bank, development and adjustment 31 groups, in particular, indigenous peoples and those subject to involuntary resettlement. Two issues that need to be taken into account in assessing the Bank’s approach to human rights are, first, the Bank has no means to legislate human rights obligations for its members, nor is it nor can be the world’s policeman that enforces its members’ human rights obligations: the Bank has neither the mandate nor the instruments to do so. Second, rights-based approaches as stated by the United Nations, “with a rights-based approach, effective action for development moves from the optional realm of charity into the mandatory realm of law with identifiable rights, obligations, claim-holders and duty-bearers” (UN 2000) are rather categorical for an organization that seeks to develop effective and efficient policies under economic constraints and budget choices. The principle of indivisibility of human rights results in the absence of guidance on how to prioritize in a resource-constrained environment which characterizes an economic organization. An unsatisfied need as a violation or abuse of human rights provides little guidance as to how to resolve a policy or resource constraint or to rectify what all may agree is an unsatisfactory situation. The generality and ambiguity of many human rights provisions present difficulties of interpretation and implementation. And many will recognize that enactment of laws alone does not ensure fair and equitable treatment of all citizens. A more relevant issue here is whether the Bank’s contributions are consistent with efforts to promote achievement of human rights. It can be argued that many of the Bank’s practices are or can be supportive, albeit indirectly, of practices which are fundamental to human rights. Such practices include, first, the identification of the poor (especially with respect to particular subgroups, such as women and men, children, youth and the elderly, or particular ethnic or regional groups), second, participatory approaches to project design and implementation and third, accountability and transparency of information systems.37 The Bank’s move (if only in rhetoric terms – as critics would put it) into the area of human rights was preceded by its in-house research. For example, it is now acknowledged that gender equality – not only in health and education, but also in voice and rights – is an important element in development (Goldin et al. 2003). Aside from the obvious direct benefits for women, equality in these dimensions is seen having instrumental benefits in terms of growth and poverty reduction. The Bank’s cross-country research confirms that low investment in female education has been a barrier to growth in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa, compared with East Asia, which has closed the gender gap in education more rapidly. Since the 1990s, the Bank has increasingly emphasized the importance of establishing the rule of law and of the state playing a role of facilitator and enabler of development. It acknowledges that increasing the efficiency of legal and judicial systems, providing greater access to justice, and reforming the public sector at large to enhance accountability and transparency can significantly contribute to the achievement of human rights. The Bank now supports judicial reform projects that strengthen good government and good governance. Such

32 Zafiris Tzannatos projects are not justified on the grounds of human rights per se but because they can enhance the effectiveness of Bank support as it is the absence of information on people’s rights and means to pursue them which often prevents policies and projects from realizing their intended benefits.

Summary and conclusions For more than half of its history the Bank has addressed women’s and gender issues both in development and also in its internal organization and, since the 1990s, it started making accelerating progress in integrating gender issues into its activities. For example, between 1995 and 2000 the Bank lent more than $3.4 billion for girls’ education programs, and was also the single largest lender in the world for health, nutrition and population projects, three-quarters of which contained gender-responsive actions. Attention to gender issues in various key Bank documents38 also increased during the 1990s. Several organizational changes designed to facilitate greater attention to gender and development issues were also institutionalized, including the issuing of an Operational Policy on the gender dimension of development in 1994 and its subsequent revision (2003), the creation of a Gender and Development Board (1997), the adoption of a Gender Strategy in 2001 and the issuing of the Bank Procedure in 2003. The Bank has been contributing to capacity-building and has been organizing conferences on diverse areas relating to gender issues such as laws and more broadly institutions. These typically cover issues such as gender equality and citizenship, women’s relationship to the State, gender-based violence, how laws can provide equality of rights and access, and how institutions can create the enabling environment to enforce rights. The Bank’s lending continued to be on a wide range of areas affecting gender equality such as support for artisan enterprise institutes, “women and justice” programs, community empowerment projects, water and sanitation, reducing female genital cutting, and helping poor women and girls obtain identity cards and birth certificates to enable them to “become citizens” (and, thus obtain, for example, microcredit and access to basic services). The Bank is also active in promoting gender equality through nonlending activities, including work on gender and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome and on emerging issues such as gender and the digital divide. A new initiative on gender and macroeconomic policy is under way that aims to identify effective actions for integrating gender into country level analysis and policy dialogue. Though the Bank was slow to start with, it moved relatively fast in the 1990s and found itself well positioned in the new millennium. Engendering development is at least being discussed and (to an extent still to be assessed) mainstreamed in the Bank’s approach and operations. Internally, there have been significant improvements in the employment conditions and prospects of female staff at all levels as well as their partners and families. And more recently the Bank became fully committed to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (World Bank 2003b).39

World Bank, development and adjustment 33 The Bank has now an analytical understanding that authorizes it to get involved with gender issues through economic justifications (instead of human rights ones). It has a clear Gender Strategy and also the operational tools to put theory into practice. As a broad development institution (rather than a specialized one – such as UNIFEM) the Bank would never be able to focus 100 percent on a specific issue. This means that it will always be debatable whether dedicating 30 percent or 60 percent of its activities to gender issues would constitute little or enough attention.40 At the broadest level, the Bank’s evolution and current state is effectively the result of an organization that has a mission related to a difficult (if not an unsolvable, in some specific time horizon) problem, that is, development and poverty reduction. In short, the Bank does not have a narrow technical mission. Approaches to development and poverty are characterized by analytical uncertainty and easily dominated by ideological or interest-based disagreements about goals, priorities and causation. Although in the 1980s the Bank adopted with little reservation the recipes of supply-side economics, this was not the case before and surely things are different today. Less easy to agree is whether the change has been substantial and whether progress has been too little too late. Some or many may argue that the 1980s were a lost decade for the Bank. Its belief that markets in developing countries would respond fast and efficiently to structural adjustment did not materialize. The collapse of the planned economies did not help either as it lead towards the belief that since one economic system was proven wrong, its theoretical alternative (that of unfettered markets) must be right. Whether it was due to the “50 Years Is Enough” campaign or the Bank’s new president in 1995 or the financial crises of the late-1990s, the Bank today is a different institution than it was during the post-McNamara era till sometime in the 1990s. Different does not necessarily mean better and the point here is that, by focusing on the aggregate macroeconomic picture, women and development got the short stick from the Bank in the 1980s and this continued for sometime into the 1990s. The more recent treatment of gender issues at the Bank does not, however, support the view that the Bank is now gender blind. This can improve further somewhat paradoxically because of the hegemonic tendencies of some of the Bank’s stakeholders (Wade 2001). For example, the US Executive Director at the Bank in the 1990s did push hard for augmenting the Bank’s gender agenda. The first year’s implementation report of the Gender Strategy concluded despite the progress to date in gender mainstreaming, the Bank’s effectiveness can be improved by paying more systematic and widespread attention to gender issues in the context of our poverty reduction mandate. The opportunities for improving the development impact of the Bank’s work through gender mainstreaming include making Bank interventions more responsive to country gender conditions and commitments, making these

34 Zafiris Tzannatos interventions more strategic, and improving the alignment of Bank policies, processes, and resources to support such interventions. In conclusion, if the economist’s answer is “the glass is twice as big as it ought to be,” then perhaps the Bank is too small to address all developmental issues. But despite past failures (partly due to reasons of biased ideology or hegemonic interferences), the Bank seems to have come a long way on gender issues. Again from an economist’s perspective “on the other hand, the Bank has some way to go.”

Acknowledgments The author would like to thank Drucilla Barker, Edith Kuiper, Karen Mason, Susan Razzaz and Haneen Sayed for useful comments on an earlier draft. Remaining omissions and errors are of the author.

Notes 1 The Bank provides approximately $20 billion/year in development assistance against another $40–50 billion provided by other multilaterals and bilaterals. This total of $60–70 billion of official aid is only a fraction of private flows which can be more than five times the amount transferred through official aid in a typical year. 2 The Bank has 184 members. 3 Jim Wolfensohn was then the Bank’s president. In July 2005 he was succeeded by Paul Wolfowitz, former US deputy defense secretary in the George Bush administration. 4 The Bank and the International Monetary Fund (established at the same time) constitute the Bretton Woods institutions and can be viewed as the crowning achievement of the English economist John Maynard Keynes. Another, lesser known protagonist was the American Harry Dexter White who later became a victim of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist campaign. 5 Though the initial emphasis of the Bank was on Europe, countries in other regions were also getting significant support, for example, Japan and India. By 1960 the Bank had lent $1.4 billion to eight Asian member countries out of 13 total members. The early years reflected the Bank’s worldwide emphasis on infrastructure projects. 6 IFC is the private arm of the Bank and cofinances private undertakings and provides services to the private sector in developing countries. 7 To become a member of the Bank a country must first join the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Membership in IDA, IFC and MIGA are conditional on membership in IBRD. 8 It is a little known fact that the Bank made a loan equivalent to $40 million to Italy to build an atomic power plant in 1959. There were no protests at the time. 9 OED is the evaluation unit at the Bank, independent of management and reports directly to the Board of Executive Directors. It evaluates outcomes by considering (a) the relevance of the intervention’s objectives in relation to country needs and institutional priorities; (b) the efficacy of the intervention – that is, the extent to which the developmental objectives have been or are expected to be achieved; (c) the efficiency of the intervention – that is, the extent to which the objectives have been or are expected to be achieved, using the minimum resources. In addition, the benchmark for a satisfactory investment project is an economic rate of return of

World Bank, development and adjustment 35




13 14 15 16 17




at least 10 percent. Additional consideration is given to sustainability of benefits over time and the institutional development impact on the ability of a country to make more efficient, equitable and sustainable use of its human, financial and natural resources. The study noted the progress overall during this period which included global gains of life expectancy at birth in developing countries by 20 years, the drop in adult illiteracy by nearly half (from 47 percent to 25 percent), and the decline of the number of people living in abject poverty (defined as living on less than $1 a day) after rising through most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The study noted, however, that development assistance has not been always fully effective and the development process has been uneven. For example, Africa as a region saw no increase in its overall per capita income between 1965 and 1999, AIDS reversed gains in social indicators, and many of the transition economies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia experienced sharp rises in poverty in the 1990s. This refers to a package of policy prescriptions attributed to the World Bank and IMF and includes fiscal discipline, reorientation of public expenditures, tax reforms, interest rates liberalization, competitive exchange rates, trade liberalization, openness to foreign direct investment, privatization, deregulation and securing property rights. “Trickle down” (or Trickle Down Economics – TDE) refers to the belief that once free market policies are introduced at the macro level, there will be significant and quick beneficial effects on the whole economy (especially in terms of employment creation and improvements in the social sectors). World Development Reports are annual and constitute the flagship publication of the Bank. They vary in the subjects they cover (for example, poverty, the role of the state, labor or infrastructure). McNamara left the Bank in 1981 having maintained the position that the Bank should remain independent of the US Government. Subsequent World Development Reports started presenting a more balanced view on the appropriate role for the state in human development, infrastructure and began undertaking some excursions into the areas of political economy. They go on to identify the fact that this is more the result of insufficient country ownership and insufficient attention to social dimensions. As of 2003, 26 countries are receiving debt relief projected to amount to US$40 billion over time. With other forms of debt relief, the HIPC Initiative will cut by two-thirds the external debt in these countries, lowering their indebtedness to levels well below the average for developing countries overall. Examples of such partnerships are: with the World Wildlife Fund to protect forests; with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to sponsor the renowned Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research; with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) which aims to improve the capacity of microfinance institutions to deliver financial services to the poorest people; with UNICEF and ILO in the area of child labor; with WHO, UNAIDS and the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM); or with partnerships which are formed around specific initiatives such as the one to fight river blindness which has successfully prevented more than 600,000 cases of blindness, has opened 25 million hectares to cultivation, and annually treats more than 22 million people for the disease. The Bank has launched (since 1996) more than 600 anticorruption programs and governance initiatives in nearly 100 client countries and currently works in 40 conflict-affected countries supporting international efforts to assist war-torn populations, resume development and prevent relapse into violence. The Bank defines “gender” as a “theme,” not a sector. A theme is cross-sectoral and applies to all sectors, and this is obviously the right way of approaching the issues concerned.

36 Zafiris Tzannatos 21 The Bank subsequently started a process of converting Operational Manual Statements to Operational Policy and Bank Procedures statements. This process resulted in richer language on the economic, financial, social and institutional analysis of investment projects. 22 However, OMS 2.20 was never clear in its intent as (a) some argued that gender analysis is required in projects where it is generally acknowledged that women are a particularly important group of project participants or beneficiaries and (b) others have argued that an analysis is required in all projects to determine when women are important participants or beneficiaries. Still, in the mid-1990s (and till the onset of the new millennium) the Bank’s gender and development policy was embodied in the aforesaid document plus a policy paper, Enhancing Women’s Participation in Economic Development (World Bank 1994a) and Operational Policy 4.20 (The Gender Dimension of Development). 23 World Development, Vol. 23, No. 11, November (1995). 24 It would be wrong, though, to assume that the Bank was idle on gender analysis before the mid-1990s. For example, Elson (1995) rightly criticized the Bank for applying gender-blind structural adjustment programs in the 1980s but did not fail to note the significant analytical work the Bank or researchers sponsored by the Bank were carrying out in key areas for gender and development (such as agriculture: see Collier (1990, 1994) or Moock (1976)) or the “pioneering study by Tzannatos (1992) [that] demonstrated that if gender discrimination patterns of occupation and pay were eliminated, total output, as well as women’s income, could increase significantly)” (Elson 1995: 1857). 25 Some of the theoretical underpinnings of the report can be found in Tzannatos (1999). 26 This research report was supported in part by the governments of Norway and the Netherlands. 27 It should be recognized that though education does not guarantee rights or power, it is a critical condition for empowering women. 28 Greater gender equality and a less rigid or extreme gender-based division of labor is expected to promote growth by raising the total level of productive capital in the society, and specifically by increasing female productive capital – capital that has important pro-growth effects. 29 There is a lively debate whether policies (including legislation) should reinforce/ legitimize existing trends or lead to new directions. 30 The report went further to specify accountabilities, funding, staffing, tools, capacitybuilding and partnerships for the successful implementation of the strategy. 31 Named after Ernie Stern, a Managing Director at the Bank. 32 Flexibility over weekly working hours. 33 Since 2002, the Bank has extended conventional family benefits to same sex partners. Ironically, despite its mission to support the poor in developing countries, the equal treatment of same sex partners for benefit purposes has the practical implication that the additional benefits the Bank will have to pay will most likely accrue almost exclusively to US nationals as foreigners have to be heterosexual spouses to get a visa from the US authorities. 34 See also http://www.ifc.org/enviro/Publications/Practice/practice.htm. 35 The Bank does not use the human rights record of its client countries to determine its assistance to them, although the quality of policies and institutions is used to determine the level of IDA assistance the poorest countries receive. 36 Nicholas Stern was the Chief Economist of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003. 37 For example, in the area of core labor standards where many Bank members have signed declarations and research can show that there can be positive economic effects (Aidt and Tzannatos 2002), the Bank encourages the promotion of good practice associated with human rights such as freedom of association.

World Bank, development and adjustment 37 38 Such as the Country Assistance Strategies (CASs) which outline the Bank’s program in member countries. 39 This document reiterates the strong linkages between gender equality and all the MDGs and argues that working for gender equality offers a compelling, win-win approach for policy-makers and planners towards attaining and implementing the goals in areas such as poverty, education, health, nutrition and the environment. It also provides examples of how gender equality can be integrated into MDG policies and interventions. It concludes with a call to integrate gender into MDG policies and interventions especially in the areas of poverty, education, health and nutrition, and the environment. 40 Of course, if gender is defined not as a sector but as a (cross-cutting) theme, then nothing less than 100 percent can be satisfactory, and the issue then becomes one of both substance and measurement.

References Aidt, T. and Z. Tzannatos (2002) Unions and Collective Bargaining: Economic Effects in a Global Environment, Washington, DC: World Bank. Benería, L. (1995) “Toward a Greater Integration of Gender in Economics,” World Development, 23(11): 1839–50. Boserup, E. (1970) Women’s Role in Economic Development, London: Gower. Çagatay, N., D. Elson and C. Grown (1995) “Introduction” (to special issue on Gender, Adjustment and Macroeconomics), World Development 23(11): 1827–38. Collier, P. (1990) “The Impact of Adjustment on Women,” in World Bank Analysis Plan for Understanding the Social Dimensions of Adjustment, World Bank, SDA Unit, Africa Region. —— (1994) “Gender Aspects of Labor Allocation During Structural Adjustment – A Theoretical Framework and the Africa Experience,” in S. Horton, R. Kanbur and D. Mazumdar (eds), Labor Markets in an Era of Adjustment, Vol. 1, Washington, DC: World Bank. Cornia, G., R. Jolly and F. Stewart (eds) (1987) Adjustment with a Human Face, Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press. Edwards, S. (1997) “Trade Liberalization Reforms and the World Bank,” American Economic Review, 87(2), Papers and Proceedings of the Hundred and Fourth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, May: 43–8. Elson, D. (1995) “Gender Awareness in Modelling Structural Adjustment,” World Development, 23(11): 1851–68. Goldin, I., H.R. Rogers and Nicholas Stern (2003) The Role and Effectiveness of Development Assistance Lessons from World Bank Experience, Washington, DC: The World Bank (A Research Paper from the Development Economics Vice Presidency of the World Bank). Kapur, D., J. Lewis and R. Webb (eds) (1997) The World Bank: Its First Half Century, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Little, I.M.D. and J.A. Mirrless (1991) “Project Appraisal and Planning Twenty Years On,” in Proceedings of the World Bank Annual Conference on Development Economics, Washington, DC: World Bank: 351–82. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Netherlands) (2003) Results of International Debt Relief 1990–1999, Policy and Operations Evaluation Department, May. Moock, P. (1976) “The Efficiency of Women as Farm Managers: Kenya,” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 58: 831–5.

38 Zafiris Tzannatos Stern, N. and F. Ferreira (1997) “The World Bank as an Intellectual Actor,” in D. Kapur, J. Lewis and R. Webb (eds), The World Bank: Its First Half Century, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press: 523–609. Stern, Nicholas (2003) “Development and Human Rights,” Address to Panel at the LSE Workshop, Washington, DC, March 5. Tzannatos, Z. (1992), “Potential Gains from the Elimination of Labor Market Differentials,” in Women’s Employment and Pay In Latin America, Part I: Overview and Methodology, Regional Studies Program Report No. 10, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1999) “Women and Labor Market Changes in the Global Economy: Growth Helps, Inequalities Hurt and Public Policy Matters,” World Development, 27(3): 551–69. UN (2000) The United Nations System and Human Rights: Guidelines and Information for the Resident Coordinator System, New York: United Nations Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), March. UNDP (1990) Human Development Report, New York. Wade, R. (2000) “US Hegemony and the World Bank: Stiglitz’s Firing and Kanbur’s Resignation,” mimeo. —— (2001) “The US Role in the Malaise at the World Bank: Get Up Gulliver!” paper presented at a panel on International Institutions and North/South Conflict, American Political Science Association Annual Meetings, San Francisco, August 28–30. Wolfensohn, J.D. (2004) Address at the Shanghai Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction. Shangai: People’s Republic of China, May 26. World Bank (1980) World Development Report on Poverty, New York: Oxford University Press. —— (1984) Operational Manual Statement 2.20, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1990) World Development Report on Poverty, New York: Oxford University Press. —— (1992a) The Stern Report (Excellence Through Equality: An Increased Role for Women in the World Bank. A Report of the Advisory Group on Higher-Level Women’s Issues, April, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1992b) The Wapentians Report (Effective Implementation: Key to Development Impact), Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1994a) Enhancing Women’s Participation in Economic Development: A World Bank Policy Paper, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1994b) Operational Policy 4.20, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1995a) Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1995b) Advancing Gender Equality: From Concept to Action, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (1998a) Doing Better Business Through Effective Public Consultation and Disclosure: A Good Practice Manual, Washington, DC: International Finance Corporation. —— (1998b) Assessing Bias in Pay and Grade at the World Bank, Development Research Group, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2000) Advancing Gender Equality: World Bank Action Since Beijing, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2001a) Integrating Gender in World Bank’s Assistance. Operations Evaluation Department, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2001b) 2000/2001 World Development Report: Attacking Poverty, New York: Oxford University Press.

World Bank, development and adjustment 39 —— (2001c) Engendering Development: Through Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2001d) Integrating Gender into the World Bank’s Work: A Strategy for Action, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2002a) The Role and Effectiveness of Development Assistance: Lessons from World Bank Experience, Washington, DC: World Bank (OED). —— (2002b) The Gender Dimension of Bank Assistance: An Evaluation of Results, Washington DC: The World Bank (OED). —— (2003a) Implementation of the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy: First Annual Monitoring Report, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2003b) Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2003c) Operational Policy 4.20 (revised), Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2003d) Bank Procedure 4.20, Washington, DC: World Bank.


An assessment of efforts to promote gender equality at the World Bank Carolyn M. Long

Introduction During the past 25 years, donor agencies and other development organizations have worked to promote gender equality in their programs with varying degrees of commitment and success. As time has gone by, research and actual experience have shown that gender equality is essential to development effectiveness. In order for countries to grow and prosper, all human resources must be maximized. If left unaddressed, gender disparities undermine otherwise wellconceived policies and programs. One of the most important public donor agencies is the World Bank. Its record thus far in promoting and institutionalizing gender equality in its policy and operational initiatives has been quite unsatisfactory. However, by the Bank’s own admission, the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, and, in particular, NGO advocacy efforts which were launched there, motivated the Bank to increase its efforts to promote gender equality within its initiatives (World Bank 2000: 2). Since 2001, the World Bank has taken three important steps to increase its commitment to gender equality. These are: 1



Public release in 2001 of a critical evaluation of the Bank’s efforts to promote gender equality during the previous four years. The evaluation was carried out by the Operations Evaluation Department (OED), an internal but autonomous part of the Bank. Publication of a major policy research report which documents the pervasiveness of gender discrimination and defines a three-part strategy to promote gender equality. Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice (2001a) proposes a strategy to reform institutions to establish equal rights and opportunities for women and men; to foster economic development to strengthen incentives for more equal resources and participation; and to take active measures to redress persistent disparities in command over resources and political voice. Adoption by Bank management and endorsement by its board of Executive Directors of a new gender mainstreaming strategy, a central component of which is a Country Gender Assessment (CGA) to be prepared for all active

Efforts to promote equality 41 borrowing countries. The results of these assessments will be used in dialogue with borrower governments to identify priority gender-responsive policies and interventions in high-impact sectors important for poverty reduction and economic growth. Whether these steps will result in significant progress by the Bank in promoting gender equality remains to be seen. To fully understand these recent steps, it is important to place them within the historical context of the Bank’s efforts to incorporate a focus on gender equality in its operations. This chapter provides a brief history of steps taken by the Bank to promote attention to gender equality in policies and projects, an assessment of how well the organization has done in these activities thus far, current thinking at the organization and a description of advocacy efforts carried out by women’s organizations and other external actors. The chapter also includes views of a number of Southern and Northern women’s organizations on gender advocacy at the Bank and what actions they think are essential in order to promote gender equality in Bank-funded initiatives.

Where gender staff is situated in the World Bank In 1997, the most recent reorganization of the Bank created a matrix organization. As of November, 2003, there were four managing directors, six regions and six networks, each headed by a vice president. These networks are Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM), Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD), Human Development (HD), Financial Sector (FSI), Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS), and Private Sector Development and Infrastructure (PSI). The role of the networks is to provide corporate and human resources functions, knowledge management, quality control and technical assistance to the regions. The PREM network houses the Gender and Development Unit (also called the “anchor”) which has 14 staff members. The PREM network has a Gender and Development Board (a “sector” board) chaired by the Unit’s director. Members of the board currently include representatives from each region as well as several sectors and networks across the Bank. Examples of sectors and networks represented in the Gender and Development Board include the World Bank Institute, the legal department, transport, human development, social development and human resources. The sector board functions as a board of directors for the gender anchor, and as such, determines the overall approach to be taken to promote gender concerns (subject to approval by management and the Executive Directors (EDs)). Unlike most sector boards which are made up of managers with budgets, the Gender Sector Board’s members are primarily gender specialists who are not managers and, in most instances, have no budgets. Each region has a gender coordinator. The effectiveness of these specialists varies considerably, depending on their particular approaches to their task and their ability to influence their regions or to raise money from donor trust funds.

42 Carolyn M. Long

Philosophical approach to gender issues at the World Bank First and foremost, gender issues at the World Bank are analyzed within the organization’s prevailing paradigm of economic reform and globalization. Although in recent years, social inclusion, empowerment and good governance have come to be seen by the Bank as essential elements of development, the core of the paradigm continues to be economic reform and globalization. Bank staff members striving to promote gender equality do not question whether this emphasis, itself, contributes to the continuing marginalization and impoverishment of women in their societies. Within the Bank’s economic paradigm, gender equality is promoted primarily through an “economic efficiency” argument, i.e. that attention to gender concerns is important so as to develop better projects and policies in order to achieve economic growth and reduce poverty. A different philosophical approach – which feminists around the world espouse – is that women have the right to equality, and they should be assisted in standing up for their rights vis-à-vis their husbands and families, communities, local government and the state. This second argument is not voiced by many in the Bank because it implies that women’s rights are human rights. The Articles of Agreement that established the Bank specify that the organization is not to engage in politics. Therefore, historically, the Bank has not taken stands on human rights issues but, under pressure from civil society groups and UN organizations, it is beginning to consider a human rights approach. The Bank’s recently completed policy research report (World Bank 2001a) should help advance the debate in the direction of gender equality as a woman’s right. For now, gender specialists in both the anchor and the regions still primarily use the efficiency argument and see their task being to win the “hearts and minds” of Bank staff regarding the importance of gender concerns. Many, perhaps even most, staffers interpret the Bank’s gender policy as representing a Women in Development (WID) rather than a gender-analysis approach. A WID strategy involves efforts to incorporate or include women and their concerns in development initiatives. A gender-analysis development approach (GAD) examines both women’s and men’s roles to determine how they contribute to development, the constraints each faces in striving to be productive members of society, and appropriate interventions to enable each to achieve a higher level of well-being. At the Bank, the WID approach remained dominant. This may explain partly why girls’ education is an area where the Bank has vastly increased its investments over the past several years. Clearly, the Bank increased its investments as a response to research evidence showing the great benefits of closing the gender gap in school. But as a staff person noted, “The Bank seems to have done very well in girls’ education because it didn’t threaten anyone.” Bank staffers may also be more comfortable with a WID approach in terms of their interactions with borrower governments since the Bank maintains that it cannot impose actions on governments. However, as signatories to the 1995

Efforts to promote equality 43 Beijing Platform for Action from the Fourth World Conference on Women, governments have already espoused gender equality. By promoting attention to concerns of gender equality, Bank staff would simply be encouraging governments to implement these commitments.

Brief history of promotion of gender equality at the World Bank In 1977, the Bank appointed a Women in Development Advisor and in 1986, established a WID Unit. According to a 1996 joint analysis of Bank efforts toward gender equality done by the International Center for Research on Women and the Overseas Development Council, “Serious momentum in the Bank began in the mid-1980s.” However, the report also states The Bank has done significantly more on behalf of women as mothers than as workers . . . There is in the Bank an intellectual consensus surrounding the importance of investing in women in the social sectors that does not exist with regard to women’s roles in economic development. (Buvinic et al. 1996: 2) In 1994, four years after the Bank adopted poverty reduction as its overall mission, the Bank’s board endorsed the first gender policy paper from which the Operational Policy statement on the gender dimension of development (Operational Policy 4.20) was derived. The Bank’s policy was focused operationally on five sectors (agriculture, education, health, financial services and labor) and did not – and still does not – require that all investment and structural adjustment programs address gender issues. It is important to note that structural adjustment programs – representing at least one-third of total Bank commitments – were not included under Operational Policy 4.20. After the arrival of James Wolfensohn as Bank president in 1995, and his statements of support for gender integration into Bank work – including his attendance at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 – the Bank began to increase its emphasis on the promotion of gender equality. Persuaded by the importance of girls’ education for advances in family health and well-being, the Bank has lent approximately US$5.3 billion for girls’ education since the Beijing conference (Mason 2002). In the areas of health, population and nutrition, the Bank is now the largest provider of external funds for such programs in low and middle-income countries. Since Beijing, two-thirds of these loans have included gender-related goals. In terms of the future, a report prepared by the Bank in early 2000 for the Beijing Plus Five meeting reinforces the Bank’s overall commitment to gender equality, at least rhetorically, when it says Recently the Bank has renewed its focus on poverty reduction as its primary mission and adopted a broad definition of poverty that includes empowerment, opportunity, and security as well as income as necessary to the fight

44 Carolyn M. Long to end poverty. These changes have set the stage for the Bank to sharpen its focus on gender equality. (World Bank 2000: vi)

Assessment of progress on gender equality at the World Bank through 2000 Mainstreaming a focus on gender issues According to the Evaluation of the Gender Dimensions of World Bank Assistance’s Phase I Report (World Bank 2001b), prepared by the OED and reviewed by the Bank’s Executive Directors in October, 2001, three basic steps are necessary to successfully mainstream a focus on gender issues in any institution. These include clear instructions to staff, measures to institutionalize and operationalize the policy, and monitoring and evaluating the policy and its implementation (World Bank 2001b: 29). Measured against these criteria, the Bank still has a great deal to do to systematically integrate gender concerns into its initiatives. In the OED evaluation, the following reasons are given for such limited progress: • • • • • • •

The 1994 gender policy is seen as poorly understood and open to wide interpretation by Bank staff, even among staff who work on gender issues; There have been no clear plans set in place to implement the gender mainstreaming strategy; There are no effective systems in place to institutionalize the policy; Resources for gender mainstreaming have been inadequate; No time-bound benchmarks were set to measure the degree of mainstreaming nor has implementation of the strategy been rigorously monitored; There aren’t incentives for staff to integrate gender issues, nor are there mechanisms in place to determine accountability; The Bank hasn’t built the necessary capacity among its staff to mainstream gender issues (World Bank 2001b: 5).

These very same issues were noted in OED’s evaluation of gender dimensions of Bank assistance done in 1997, an indication of little, if any progress on mainstreaming in recent years!2 The Bank’s gender policy As an operational policy, the gender policy is required to be followed by staff. However, because the 1994 policy was vague, it was open to wide interpretation, and could be safely ignored by staff without consequence. The gender policy could be contrasted with “safeguard” policies, a group of ten individual polices which cover such issues as environmental assessment and protection, involuntary resettlement, indigenous peoples and dam safety. Bank Procedures (which specify

Efforts to promote equality 45 procedures and documentation required for Bank-wide consistency and quality) and Good Practices (statements containing advice and guidance on policy implementation based on experience) are both prepared for safeguard policies but were not for the 1994 gender policy. The absence of these further undermined the policy’s effectiveness since the Bank Procedures provide the framework and detailed requirements of a policy which then can be monitored for compliance. Historically, even in cases where staff has genuinely wanted to pay attention to gender equality in projects and policy formulation, such efforts have been dependent on approvals by country directors or project task team leaders for funding. Since the reorganization in 1996, country directors have controlled the budgets for their country programs. It has been only when these directors agreed to specific requests that gender-related activities have been funded. This has been a major impediment to gender mainstreaming. Beyond one’s own interest, there have been no incentives for including gender-related activities or sanctions for not doing so. Indeed, trust funds provided by donors (e.g. the Norwegians and the Dutch) have financed at least a portion of gender-related work done by the Bank over many years. Gender issues in Bank-funded projects Given the Bank’s limited monitoring of its own work to incorporate gender issues into its initiatives, it’s difficult to give an accurate portrayal of the extent of mainstreaming. The data that exists indicates the following. The Bank’s published reports include these results: • • • •

From 1965 to 1985: less than 10 percent of Bank-funded projects included specific gender-related actions. From 1988 to 1994: the percentage increased to 30 percent, with the strongest efforts made in improvements to women’s health and education, and to increase their options in agriculture. As of 2000: the percentage of projects including some consideration of gender issues in their design had almost doubled since 1995, climbing to more than 40 percent of all Bank projects. The percentage of projects that finance gender-related activities or support policy changes designed to reduce gender inequalities averaged 26 percent in 1995–99 (World Bank 2001b: 9).

Although these statistics show a slow, steady progression, internal Bank evaluations reveal a somewhat different story. The most recent evaluation by OED, completed in late 2000, indicates: • •

Between 1988 and 1999, only 38 percent of the Bank’s investment projects have any meaningful reference to gender issues; Less than 28 percent of these projects included gender action plans or components;

46 Carolyn M. Long • •

At least 60 percent of all projects didn’t explicitly consider gender issues in a meaningful way during preparation; Less than 15 percent of projects used gender disaggregated data in preparation (World Bank 2001b: 17).

Women’s participation in policy formulation Starting in 1997, NGOs around the world began an effort to promote participation of civil society organizations in the formulation of the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) in borrower countries. As part of this larger effort, Southern women’s organizations began to be invited to meetings held by the Bank. The OED evaluation found that all CASs reviewed which were prepared after 1997 were rated satisfactory as regards gender awareness. However, the evaluation states “even in CASs with good gender analysis, the link with recommendations is weak” (World Bank 2001b: 24). NGOs have done extensive work to promote systematic and genuine participation of civil society in formulation of the CAS, and the Bank has developed guidelines for staff members to promote such involvement. Nevertheless, NGOs are still not involved systematically in the formulation of the CAS. The more common experience is that NGOs are consulted, and their views may or may not be taken into consideration when the CAS is finalized. Bank systems and procedures that ensure that real participation happens should be enforced more strongly and need to guarantee that women’s organizations are always included. The Poverty Reduction Strategy process, launched in 1999 by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), requires governments to carry out a participatory process with civil society and other stakeholders involved in its formulation. However, according to available reports, gender concerns have been largely overlooked in the first 33 interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and while certain gender issues were addressed for the first time in some of the first nine final PRSPs completed in November, 2001, they were not treated in the depth necessary (World Bank 2002). One exception is Rwanda whose PRSP does mainstream gender issues with very few exceptions and treats gender concerns in some depth (Zuckerman 2002: 10). The promotion of gender equality in Bank project and policy initiatives has been largely dependent on individual initiative by gender specialists working in the Bank’s regional offices and in the gender “anchor.” Therefore, success in integration of gender concerns into projects and policy formulation varies considerably by region, depending on the particular gender specialist, the regional vice president, the regional chief economist and the individual country directors and their willingness, or lack thereof, to promote gender equality. The Latin America and Caribbean region is considered by many to have been successful in its approach to gender mainstreaming in recent years, largely due to the efforts of the regional gender specialist there until 2002.3 She defined her work as providing services to task managers based on an efficiency model. She believed that the majority of task team leaders were willing to incorporate

Efforts to promote equality 47 gender concerns in their projects if they were given the proper help. She raised money from donor trust funds to underwrite her work and had good results in having gender issues addressed in project formulation and design. She also identified implementation constraints with clients. Because very little technical assistance is provided to borrowers during the implementation phase of projects, she piloted a technical assistance (TA) facility in Ecuador with a gender specialist available to coordinate assistance to projects in several countries. The coordinator identified providers of TA (either consultants or NGOs) in the countries themselves. When the TA facility was first set up, the regional gender specialist sent an e-mail to 11 Bank task team leaders to ascertain their interest in using it. Nine responded positively within a week (Correia 2001). According to some Bank staff members, successful work in gender mainstreaming is also being done in other regions. However, in Europe and Central Asia, the gender coordinator post remained vacant for well over a year before being filled in 2002, and task team leaders in Africa express little interest in promoting gender equality.

Current thinking and action on promotion of gender equality at the World Bank Specific work being carried out in the Bank at present is encouraging. The policy research report noted on page 40, this volume, which was completed in 2001, makes the case as to why gender equality must be viewed as an integral part of development initiatives that aim to reduce poverty and encourage economic growth. Other research done earlier by the Bank within the context of the Special Program of Assistance to Africa shows the linkages between gender inequality, growth and poverty and concludes that reducing gender-based asset inequality increases growth, efficiency and welfare (Blackden and Bhanu 1998: 2). Undoubtedly the most important decision taken in recent years regarding gender equality was the Bank Board’s endorsement on September 18, 2001 of a new gender mainstreaming strategy. Under development for much of the previous year, the new strategy has as its centerpiece a Country Gender Assessment (CGA) to be completed in all active borrowing countries. The CGAs are based on analysis and inclusive consultations at the country level and identify gender-responsive policy and operational interventions important for poverty reduction, economic growth and sustainable development. The Bank’s Gender and Development Board developed the new strategy which was written by a team headed by the Director of Gender and Development. Consultations held during the strategy’s development in the six regions where the Bank works included civil society groups and government officials, and informal discussions were held with bilateral and multilateral donors. The External Gender Consultative Group (see page 49, this volume) commented on several drafts. The gender mainstreaming strategy is being made operational through a basic three-step process:

48 Carolyn M. Long 1

2 3

Prepare, for each country in which the Bank has an active lending program, a periodic Country Gender Assessment analyzing the gender dimensions of development across sectors and identifying the gender-responsive actions that are important for poverty reduction, economic growth, human wellbeing and development effectiveness, and use it to inform the Bank’s country assistance program; Develop and implement, as part of the Country Assistance Program, priority policy and operational interventions (if any) that respond to the CGA; and Monitor the implementation and results of these policy and operational interventions (World Bank 2002: 18).

Expectations are that, based on the diagnosis carried out through the CGA, a gender dimension will be integrated into relevant analytical work and lending instruments. For example, this would include analytical work in high-priority sectors and social impact analysis associated with adjustment lending, including Poverty Reduction Support Credits, among others. An important part of the strategy has been the revision of the Bank’s gender policy, Operational Policy 4.20 (see page 43, this volume). In March, 2003, the Bank’s board approved the new “Gender and Development” Operational Policy (OP 4.20). In terms of accountability, regional vice presidents are expected to submit annual gender mainstreaming plans and to prepare year-end reports outlining fulfillment of these plans. In October, 2002 the Gender and Development anchor completed preparation of a new monitoring and evaluation system to track and evaluate implementation of the strategy in Bank work. The new gender mainstreaming strategy, with its emphasis on Country Gender Assessments, represents a new level of seriousness in how the Bank is to examine gender status and gender disparities in specific countries. Whether the assessments will result in any significant increase in incorporation of gender-responsive actions into policy and operational interventions remains to be seen. The strategy states that while the process should be led by the specific countries, the Bank will play a supportive and proactive role. The mainstreaming strategy has been adopted at a time when traditional pressures on staff remain, i.e. to formulate, prepare and bring loan proposals to the EDs for approval and to get money disbursed to borrowers. While personnel evaluations have been changed somewhat in the recent past to encourage teamwork and a client orientation, staff are still rewarded primarily for getting loans approved. There are no specific incentives offered to encourage Bank staff to embrace this strategy other than the research evidence stated earlier in this report. As noted, accountability for implementation of the strategy is to be through the annual plans and reports of the regional vice presidencies. However, adherence in the past to accountability mechanisms for gender, participation and other social issues has been quite unsatisfactory. There is even some difficulty achieving compliance with the safeguard policies which are considered absolutely mandatory. Therefore, successful mainstreaming will depend in large measure

Efforts to promote equality 49 on the ability of gender advocates within the Bank to persuade their colleagues to embrace this plan and on the commitment of the country directors and regional vice presidents to ensure implementation. External monitoring of the strategy’s implementation by gender advocates is essential, both at headquarters and in borrower countries. As regards the board of the Bank, some progress has been made regarding attention to gender. At the present time, those countries whose Executive Directors are most attentive to gender concerns are the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Canada. While in the past, there was a definite split between North and South regarding support for gender equality, the situation among the Southern EDs is becoming more encouraging, with support having been expressed by at least a few of the EDs from borrower countries.

Bank mechanisms for expanded consultation on gender issues Since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the Bank has created two important mechanisms to increase consultation with gender specialists and women’s organizations around the world. External Gender Consultative Group In 1996, President Wolfensohn created the External Gender Consultative Group, composed of 14 gender specialists from around the world. Its purpose is to assist the World Bank in the design and implementation of its gender policies, and to help strengthen dialogue on gender-related issues between the Bank, its partners and interested sectors of civil society. The members of the EGCG were chosen by the Bank based on their expertise, experience and geographical representation. The EGCG has succeeded in raising important issues for consideration by the Bank such as the need to approach gender from a rights perspective rather than simply for efficiency, and to address the harmful effects of structural adjustment and globalization on women. They also provided important input to the policy research report and to the gender mainstreaming strategy. However, the group is a set of individuals who do not represent their organizations in their capacity as members of the EGCG. The group has no formal advocacy program, extremely limited funds, and a once-a-year encounter with the Bank at headquarters. Therefore, their influence is limited. In 2000, the Bank reduced the EGCG membership from 14 to 9 people, most likely as a cost-saving measure. The EGCG is an important reference group for the Gender and Development anchor and provides a sounding board for internal gender advocates as they consider how to increase attention to gender at the Bank. However, some gender-focused Bank staffers perceive the orientation of the Bank towards the EGCG as a sort of “firefighting” exercise, i.e. Bank

50 Carolyn M. Long management listens to the EGCG in order to keep a positive public relations profile on the topic but the group does not significantly affect Bank behavior toward gender issues. Consultative Council on Gender for the Middle East and North Africa This group was created by the Bank in January, 1999 largely as a result of the commitment and dynamism of the MENA gender coordinator to enable it to consult with members of civil society in countries of the region.

NGO advocacy efforts on gender equality at the World Bank Shortly before she left the Bank in 2001, Jan Piercy, the former US Executive Director, said “Having an external constituency on gender is indispensable” (Piercy 2001). She noted how struck she had been by how priorities of the Bank shift depending on advocacy by external groups. In the months preceding the adoption of the new gender mainstreaming strategy, comments expressed by several Bank staff regarding the status of gender promotion in the Bank revealed the current dearth of external advocacy as well as the work needed to be done inside the Bank. “Gender is nowhere here,” said one high-placed female manager who doesn’t work on gender at the Bank but who did in another development organization. “Gender is not even on the radar screen,” said another Bank staffer familiar with social development issues in the Bank. “No one cares about gender here,” said another. Evidence shows that advocacy by women’s organizations around the world has helped to promote the gender advances that have occurred so far in the Bank. While some advocacy work had been carried out subsequent to the imposition of structural adjustment policies in the early 1980s and in the decade following the establishment of the Bank’s WID Unit in 1986, efforts began to intensify at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women where Bank President James Wolfensohn made a speech indicating the Bank’s commitment to promote gender equality. He was the first Bank president to attend any of the United Nations conferences on women. Women’s eyes on the Bank At the Beijing conference, representatives of women’s organizations presented Wolfensohn with a letter signed by over 800 people urging the Bank to take the following four steps: • •

To increase the participation of grassroots women in the Bank’s projects and economic policy making; To institutionalize a gender perspective in all Bank policies and programs;

Efforts to promote equality 51 • •

To increase Bank investments in women’s health services, education, agriculture, land ownership, employment and financial services; To increase the number and diversity of women in senior management positions within the Bank (Williams 1997: 33).

This action launched the Women’s Eyes on the Bank Campaign (WEOB) which took root in the US and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Following the Beijing conference, 8 to 12 organizations based mainly in Washington created the campaign’s US chapter. The only other region where an active campaign ensued was in Latin America and the Caribbean which has continued to have a group of women involved in advocacy in 10 countries (Frade Rubio 2000: 1). In 1997, the US campaign produced an excellent assessment of the Bank’s work in the four areas noted above. Three or four individuals in Washington-based NGOs became the backbone of the US campaign, with most working on WEOB in addition to their regular professional responsibilities. When they left their respective NGO jobs in 1999, work on the WEOB essentially stopped. Women’s EDGE In 2000, Oxfam America asked Women’s EDGE to consider taking up advocacy on gender equality at the Bank after the US coordinator of the Women’s Eyes on the Bank Campaign left Oxfam for a job elsewhere. Through support provided by Oxfam America, Women’s EDGE researched this topic and began a dialogue with Southern gender activists about advocacy topics of importance to them. The results of that work were published in April, 2002, in a report entitled “The advocate’s guide to promoting gender equality at the World Bank.” The focus of the Women’s EDGE coalition is women and macro-economic issues, and it works to ensure that complex international trade agreements do not harm people living in developing countries. Its constituency includes more than 65 member organizations and more than 7000 individuals on campuses and other key places around the country. The coalition’s diverse membership – from the Christian Children’s Fund to the Feminist Majority – have come together around a common mission to inject women’s economic, social and political rights into US interactions with developing and transitional countries. The organization defines and targets US action broadly; EDGE advocates for women’s rights in global trade, official development assistance and US participation in multilateral organizations. It has established relationships with Southern women’s organizations interested in and active on macro-economic issues. Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, it has been unable to continue its work to promote gender equality at the World Bank.

52 Carolyn M. Long Gender Action Gender Action is a nonprofit organization established in 2002 to ensure multilateral organizations promote gender equality and women’s rights in all their investments worldwide. Gender Action’s strategies include partnering with Southern civil society groups to convince their governments to mainstream gender concerns into MDB investments in their countries; persuading donor governments to hold the MDBs accountable on gender issues; monitoring and reporting on multilateral progress in mainstreaming gender issues; and conducting gender advocacy directly on the multilaterals. During its initial months, Gender Action has concentrated on engendering PRSPs because of the critical role PRSPs play in country eligibility for multilateral investments and in national planning and budgeting. Gender Action has undertaken PRSP fieldwork collaboratively with Southern partners and direct advocacy with bilateral agencies and other nonprofits. Gender Action has actively participated in the Coalition for World Bank Reform’s advocacy campaign by engendering proposed US World Bank (IDA-13) funding replenishment legislation and conditions. Gender Action also contributed to the Coalition report, “Responsible Reform of the World Bank.”

Integrating gender into PRSPs The advent of the Poverty Reduction Strategy process has meant that women’s organizations have begun to be involved in these efforts although, as noted on page 46, participation by women’s groups and attention to gender issues have been inadequate thus far. According to a Bank staffer, the Bank, itself, is precluded from helping civil society groups become involved in the PRSP process. The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) analyzed the treatment of gender concerns in the PRSP as part of a comprehensive review of this process undertaken by the Bank and IMF in late 2001. UNIFEM’s comments were drawn from assessments done by NGOs, consultants and national women’s machineries in particular countries, and noted these six points: •

• •

One of the key areas where there is a singular lack of gender dimension in the PRSPs is that of data collection to inform poverty diagnoses, policy development and monitoring and evaluation. Gender is not addressed as a cross-cutting issue; instead it is often limited to a few specific sectors such as health and education where gender issues are traditionally addressed. Gender is rarely addressed in relation to macro-economic and structural policies. These are assumed to be gender-neutral when in fact they are not. PRSPs emphasize the market economy at the expense of the household economy, which is mostly female-dominated, based on unpaid labor and has direct contributions to the market economy, especially during business cycle downturns.

Efforts to promote equality 53 •

Participation of civil society in the development of PRSPs is often limited, without institutionalized mechanisms that can ensure the views of all groups are actually reflected in the various stages of a PRSP. One important omission in PRSPs has been the very limited discussion on violence against women (World Bank 2001d: 1).

Other research undertaken has uncovered additional reasons why gender concerns have not been included in PRSPs thus far: •

Although some participatory processes undertaken to ensure civil society input into preparation of PRSPs have considered gender concerns, the final reports or workshops obscured gender differences by aggregating previously sex-disaggregated data. Participants in PRSP writing teams most often are staff from government finance and economics ministries and external consultants, many of whom are insensitive to gender issues. Many PRSP stakeholders lack gender-mainstreaming skills; they see the process of engendering the PRSP as mysterious; and they find gender discussions largely conceptual rather than practical. The PRSP sourcebook, prepared by the World Bank, is seen as impractical to use. The gender chapter, while very useful in terms of diagnostic and monitoring indicators and tools, does not deal with gender advocacy and gives little attention to the need for gender analysis of macro-economic issues including the national budget which is central to the PRSP (Zuckerman 2002: 10).

Views of Southern NGO gender specialists regarding gender advocacy at the World Bank The most influential voices regarding gender issues at the World Bank must be those of Southern women themselves. However, historically, women in borrower countries have not been given the opportunity to participate adequately or appropriately in Bank policy and project formulation, design, implementation and evaluation. The recent positive steps taken by the World Bank may represent an opportunity to redress this situation. Although at present there is no way to systematically catalogue or analyze advocacy by women’s organizations at the national level, Southern women’s groups have been promoting gender concerns to the Bank for many years. Southern women’s groups have long been among those civil society organizations working to convince the Bank to end or significantly alter structural adjustment policies imposed on their countries. The LAC-WEOB campaign has been the most active World Bank-focused effort in a Southern region in recent years. Southern women have also been in the forefront of groups urging an end to user fees in health, water and education which governments have imposed as conditions of certain World Bank lending. ISAAF International in India and

54 Carolyn M. Long the Tanzania Gender Networking Program are two of many women’s organizations advocating these changes. In many instances, women’s groups have been included in the consultative processes with civil society conducted for the formulation of the CAS in borrower countries. Interviews in recent years with women from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean reveal the following issues as those they perceive as most urgent regarding the promotion of gender at the Bank: • • • • •

The Bank’s promotion of gender equality within the prevailing paradigm of economic reform and globalization; The technical compartmentalization of gender efforts rather than viewing them within the political context of structural inequalities and patriarchy; The Bank’s focus on economic efficiency rather than empowerment and rights; The emphasis on women as mothers, not as workers; The role of the US in maintaining the current World Bank approach to economic reform and globalization.

Southern gender specialists think advocacy should start by questioning the assumptions and values that form the basis of the Bank’s policies, as well as its system for delivering loans to Southern countries. This includes economic conditionality and the process of negotiation of macro-economic policies. In the view of Southern gender specialists, the PRSP is an example of a Bank-led initiative to continue imposition of liberal economic reforms, with official claims for poverty reduction goals and broad-based public participation, coupled with conditionality likely to conflict with national development imperatives and longterm poverty reduction. The negotiation process is conducted for the most part without the full knowledge and participation of affected citizens, including women. Many Southern gender specialists think that the Bank is promoting gendermainstreaming while it supports macro-economic policies that further the interests of transnational corporations in search of new markets and new sources of cheap labor, thus reinforcing the exclusion of disadvantaged social groups, especially women. Southern women also think that these policies have led to the removal and/or de-legitimization of public policy instruments for the implementation of social development policies and affirmative action policies, including the Beijing Platform for Action.

Conclusion As detailed in these pages, during the past 25 years the record of the World Bank in promoting gender equality in its policy and operational initiatives has been quite unsatisfactory. However, the recent steps taken by the Bank which have been described in this chapter are encouraging. Gender activists and feminist economists around the world need to seize this opportunity to monitor the

Efforts to promote equality 55 implementation of the new gender-mainstreaming strategy, both at the country level and globally, to analyze gender impacts of Bank-funded initiatives and to promote as vigorously as possible gender equality and equitable access to resources and power.

Notes 1 2


This chapter is adapted from “The advocate’s guide to promoting gender equality at the World Bank,” published by the Women’s EDGE Coalition in April, 2003. The full paper is available at www.womensedge.org Although the current director of the Bank’s Gender and Development Unit indicated in July, 2002 that the 1994 gender policy paper was not a mainstreaming strategy, “mainstreaming strategy” was the term used in the OED evaluation cited in this paper. For another view on this matter see Chapter 5 by Avin and Chapter 12 by Barriteau in this book.


Country Assistance Strategy Country Gender Assessment Executive Director External Gender Consultative Group International Bank for Reconstruction and Development International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes International Development Association International Finance Corporation International Monetary Fund Latin America and the Caribbean Latin America and the Caribbean Women’s Eyes on the Bank Middle East and North Africa Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Non-governmental organization Operations Evaluation Department Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network Poverty Reduction Strategy Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Technical assistance United Nations Development Fund for Women Women’s Eyes on the Bank Women in Development

References Blackden, Mark and Chitra Bhanu (1998) 1998 Poverty Status Report, Special Partnership with Africa, Washington, DC: World Bank. Buvinic, Mayra, Catherine Gwin and Lisa M. Bates (1996) Investing in Women: Progress and Prospects for the World Bank, Washington, DC: Overseas Development Council. Correia, Maria, interview, January 24, 2001.

56 Carolyn M. Long Frade Rubio, Laura (ed.) (2000) Equity, Participation and Consistency? The World Bank at the Beijing + 5, Women’s Eyes on the World Bank Campaign, Latin American Region, Mexico: Alcadeco, AC. Long, Carolyn M. (2003) “The advocate’s guide to promoting gender equality at the World Bank,” published by Women’s EDGE Coalition. Online. Available http:// www.womensedge.org Mason, Karen, notes to author, July 18, 2002. Piercy, Jan, interview, January 25, 2001. Williams, Lydia (ed.) (1997) Gender Equity and the World Bank Group: A Post-Beijing Assessment, Women’s Eyes on the World Bank – US in collaboration with Women’s Eyes on the World Bank – Latin America, 50 Years is Enough, and US Network for Global Economic Justice, Washington, DC. World Bank (2000) Advancing Gender Equality. World Bank Action Since Beijing, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2001a) Engendering Development: Through Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice. Washington, DC: The World Bank. —— (2001b) Evaluation of the Gender Dimensions of World Bank Assistance, Operations Evaluation Department, Fourth Draft, Washington, DC: World Bank. —— (2001c) “Development Topics: Participation, Participation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Formulation, External Reviews,” Online. Available http://www. worldbank.org —— (2001d) “United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Contribution to the World Bank and IMF PRSP Review,” Online. Available http:// www.worldbank.org —— (2002) Integrating Gender into the World Bank’s Work: A Strategy for Action, Washington, DC: World Bank. Zuckerman, Elaine (2002) A Primer on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and Gender, Washington, DC: Gender Action.


Rhetoric and realities A comment Sakuntala Narasimhan

The two preceding chapters, by Zafiris Tzannatos and Carolyn M. Long respectively, seem to be broadly in agreement over the assessment that the priorities of the first four decades of the Bank’s operations were not merely gender-blind but actually caused the feminization of poverty (increasing the percentage of women among those living below the poverty line), leaving women worse off and further marginalized. Both chapters also concede that in recent years (and specifically, after the Beijing conference of women in 1995) the organization has declared its commitment to a more gender-sensitive perspective, and that a number of initiatives, ranging from policy guidelines to setting up gender consultative groups, have been taken. Where once the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) urged and imposed by the Bank on developing countries desirous of borrowing from the Bank eroded the quality of life for women, while exports rose to pay for debt-servicing, the new policies and initiatives were meant (at least, on paper) to ensure that gender equity did not get pushed off the radar in future funding operations. But have these initiatives been matched by performance? Long’s assessment is that the “corrective measures” that the Bank has undertaken are worth taking note of, but are “not enough.” In other words, the scorecard is a C minus or thereabouts, from a feminist point of view. Not satisfactory. Tzannatos likewise, concludes that the Bank has a long way to go in terms of ensuring that gender equity is not compromised by its funding policies. In reflecting on the thrust of the arguments in the two previous chapters, I find myself raising two basic questions: •

Has the Bank really learnt from past mistakes, or is there still a gap between rhetoric (about becoming gender sensitive) and the reality of the organization’s current policies and patterns of functioning? and Do the changes initiated within the Bank, as policy shifts and evaluation mechanisms, promise (at least in the long run) to make an abiding difference to the way developmental funding in the borrowing countries affects women?

The first question is best answered in terms of a few examples from around the world. After committing a whopping $450 million for the massive Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada river in upper India, the Bank parted ways with the

58 Sakuntala Narasimhan Indian government in the wake of widespread protests by activists. The project displaced tens of thousands of people, inundated hundreds of villages, and caused massive dispossession among poor tribals. The Narmada project in fact became the world’s “test case” of the Bank’s willingness and ability to adhere to its own environmental and social guidelines (Mehta 1993). Nonetheless, a decade later, the Bank is reported to have resumed lending for big dams in India despite years of trenchant criticism of its lending policies. In the lush green northeastern states alone (which have a large population of tribals), dams and river diversion projects are being planned that will cause “ecological disasters,” as activists put it. That does not quite look like “learning from past mistakes.” Forced migration and displacement put a disproportionately greater burden on females than on males. As recently as in February 2004, activists from Tanzania drew international attention to the fact that the World Bank was about to fund a major road project around the slopes of Kilimanjaro. “This will spell disaster for the people and pose a serious threat to a world heritage site,” the activists point out. This case too, flies in the face of the claims that the Bank makes, of having become “more ecology and environment conscious in its assessment of projects.” In Uganda, a curious resurgence of the practice known as “mikayi” has been noted in recent research studies. Mikayi also refers to the eldest wife (who traditionally enjoyed seniority and privileges among wives in an African polygamous marriage). Young girls enrolled at the university (even in “modern” courses like gender studies and information technology), it was found, become the mikayi of male classmates and provide housekeeping services (cooking, cleaning) in return for money that will go towards paying college fees. Thanks to the structural adjustment policies dictated by the Bank, state allocations for education got cut, and girls who found there was no money forthcoming for their education have ended up reviving, as a coping strategy, a practice that seems anomalous and socially regressive in the context of gender equity. These girls actually end up defaulting on their educational goals because housekeeping chores leave them no time for studying or attending classes. Many even end up victims of violence inflicted by their boy friends (Abuya 2002). This links up with the main argument, because it is the World Bank’s policies (of cutting down on social sector expenditure) that drive girls to adopt strategies that could help overcome the reduction in educational funds available. It is a classic example of the feminization of poverty caused by structural adjustment policies. A more recent report of June 2003 describes how young women trade unsafe sex for survival in Lesotho, because SAP has contributed to rising shortages of food. The World Food Program says increasing prostitution has become a problem in at least six southern African countries (Itano 2003). Similar examples of women’s immiseration can be found across the continents, from Thailand to Kenya and Jamaica to Brazil. Despite professions of greater gender sensitivity, the Bank continues to let “economic profitability” dictate its lending and funding decisions in developing countries across the world. If that is one aspect of “past mistakes,” the other is that the damage inflicted,

Rhetoric and realities 59 particularly on women’s lives, through blinkered policies thrust upon developing economies in the earlier years, cannot be undone – thousands of indigent women in Asian countries (India, Bangladesh, Vietnam) who are caught in exploitative industrial units (garment exports, floriculture and food processing, for instance) find themselves in a no-win situation, with their traditional communities and support systems destroyed and no alternatives to turn to. The People’s Charter for Health drawn up by the People’s Health Movement (a global coalition of health activists and medical personnel) took note in May 2004 of the “disastrous effects on women’s health, of the policies dictated by the World Bank.”1 Thanks to the emphasis on privatization of medical services, maternal mortality and morbidity has actually risen in some regions, as several studies have shown. Gender and environmental concerns go hand in hand with overlapping agendas, because whatever degrades the environment puts a greater burden on women, especially in the lower economic strata (having to walk further to fetch water for the family’s needs, fodder for the cattle and firewood for cooking, more time spent on caring for infants developing respiratory ailments caused by pollution). Regardless, the Bank has, even after 1992 (when the international convention on climate change and environment, also known as the Kyoto Protocol, was signed), financed projects that were actually climate-changing to the tune of $2–3 billion per year, which is 20–30 times the Bank’s financing of climate-friendly activities, in terms of renewable energy options. The new coal-fired power plant at Talchar in Orissa state in eastern India (described as “the pride of the Bank”) has resulted in the river water becoming coated with thick ash deposits, so women of the region are reduced to digging in the sand with their hands to scoop up water for the family’s daily needs. The plant uses millions of gallons of water for its cooling towers, robbing the villages of a once clean and abundant water supply (Wysham and Valette 1997). That, again, is neither “gender-sensitive” nor “learning from experience.” In Bangladesh, the Bank’s advice urging a greater focus on export promotion (for earning foreign exchange to pay for debt-servicing) led to rice fields getting converted to shrimp farms. Where once the rice crop fed the farmer and his family, the shrimp cultivated instead of paddy got sent overseas as export. The salination of rice lands caused by the ponds built to raise shrimps in also led to what activists describe as an “ecological disaster” (Ahmad 1992). Agricultural production has fallen by 30 percent, and to the 25 million people who are suffering hunger, the increase in export earnings is hardly a measure of “development” or cause for rejoicing. This brings me to the second question about the developmental paradigm that the Bank is sworn to, and promotes in the borrowing countries. As Long points out, the original brief was, purely and strictly, economic – increasing money incomes and returns from investments, without reference to dimensions of “equity” or “rights” (in terms of women’s right to having their voices heard during processes of decision-making, for example), because these were considered “political” dimensions (to be strictly avoided). In recent years, however, the Bank’s policy is supposed to have shifted towards a rights-and-resource

60 Sakuntala Narasimhan entitlements approach, taking into consideration (at least in theory) the effect of policy decisions on gender equity. Nonetheless, the basic definition of development remains unchanged – the indices are power generation, highways built, infrastructure base per capita, foreign exchange earnings. If a project promises high returns for investment (through power generation that will bring in profits, for instance) it is still OK under the Bank’s criteria. (The benchmark for a satisfactory investment project is an economic rate of return of at least 10 percent, as Tzannatos observes in a note.) If it is found that this will create gender imbalances and social problems, the approach is to “examine” how these effects could be mitigated rather than questioning the basic definition of “development” and “progress” itself. As the Bangladeshi activist Nilufar Ahmad asks, what kind of progress is it, if shrimp exports bring in extra foreign exchange earnings, when at the same time 25 million people are pushed into starvation because of the damage to rice fields? The global consensus today, as Tzannatos points out, is that economics alone is quite inadequate as a matrix for development planning, and that a multi-disciplinary (economic-social-cultural-human rights) approach is necessary. In this, the Bank has fallen far short of its avowed, “updated” intentions that are supposed to be based on “lessons learnt from the past.” The Meltzer Commission report2 described the Bank’s record as “miserable”; Walden Bello has called for the “decommissioning and neutering of the Bank”; and even former senior Bank officials like Nicholas Stern have attacked the Bank’s policy of pampering the rich and penalizing the poor. Whether any of this has altered the perspectives of the Bank is a moot point. Judging from the comments from Long and Tzannatos, the answer seems to be, “no” or at best, “not much.” As part of its “new” and “more sensitive” agenda, the Bank has also mentioned “a greater participatory role for civic society” – and yet, how many displaced tribal hordes, or women impoverished by Structural Adjustment Programs, have access to inspection panels or evaluation units of the Bank ? In a way the Bank is able to conveniently avoid responsibility in this area since it puts the onus on the country representatives. Tzannatos points out, however, that the country representatives are themselves either the finance minister or similar high-ranking official (who might not necessarily be sensitive to issues of gender equity). Moreover, those authorized to voice opinions at the Bank’s deliberations are not all democratically equal in effect – the top donor countries (US, Japan, UK, Germany, France – none of them belonging to the category of “developing countries”) have one executive director each, while 176 developing countries out of the total membership of 184 nations have to make do with just 16 executive directors representing them. Country representation is one thing, having its voice heard and heeded is another. He who pays the piper, calls the tune – and it comes as no surprise that global criticism of the Bank’s functioning includes the charge that the Bank’s decisions prioritize US multinational companies’ needs (in terms of market access or profits) rather than the needs of the beneficiary country (or for that matter, the women’s component of the populations therein).

Rhetoric and realities 61 The organizational descriptions provided in the earlier portions of the foregoing chapters reveal other details that strengthen the image of the Bank – even after its recent policy “fine-tuning” exercises – as “insensitive” even to the basic concept of poverty. When the Bank evaluates a proposal or development project, it gets consultants to assess the feasibility and profitability dimensions before the project is sanctioned. These consultants, as the Bangladeshi activist Nilufar Ahmad points out, are invariably from the West (American firms, mostly – one of the conditions the Bank imposes is that foreign consultants have to be engaged) who fly in, and give their expert opinion (regardless of their familiarity with the ground realities of the socio-cultural matrices in the country). Long’s chapter takes note of the fact that, in terms of positive measures, the Bank has recently “decentralized” its working and “moved staff to the field.” Out of a total of 10,000 employees, over 3,000 are reported to be based in borrower countries. That’s a half-filled glass (less than, in fact – 30 percent is still way short of “equity”). Imposing assessments from outside and not heeding local voices on priority needs causes wasteful (and at times even harmful) expenditure. Criticism of the Bank’s policies have included the viewpoint that the Bank’s funding has been like pouring water into a leaking tub, because part of the problem in developing countries has been poor implementation – for instance, in power generation, reducing transmission losses and plugging wastage would be a better and far more effective strategy than funding new dam projects that displace communities and cause social unrest. Even after the introduction of “gender-sensitive mechanisms” for fine-tuning project evaluations, as Long’s chapter points out, there is neither an incentive for prioritizing a strong gender component, nor accountability (or penalties for ignoring women’s needs). The organizational initiatives, in other words, have served as no more than cosmetic moves. “The [External Gender Consultative] group has no formal advocacy program, extremely limited funds, and a oncea-year encounter with the Bank at headquarters. Therefore, their influence is limited.” Also, “some gender-focused Bank staffers perceive the orientation of the Bank towards the EGCG as a sort of ‘firefighting’ exercise, i.e. Bank management listens to the EGCG in order to keep a positive public relations profile on the topic but the group does not significantly affect Bank behavior toward gender issues” (Long, this volume, page 49). More eloquently, the Bank has “reduced the EGCG membership from 14 to 9 . . . most likely as a costsaving measure” (Long, page 49). Cost-saving does not, presumably, get in the way while flying out, at enormous expense, foreign consultants into developing regions where the average citizen earns in a whole year a fraction of what the consultants spend in a day (and women earn even less). Mindsets, rather than minor adjustments to perspectives and priorities, are the problem. Shifting the perspective and emphasis towards “poverty reduction” makes little sense in the face of insensitivity to, and poor understanding of, the nature and ramifications of poverty. Even where Bank-funded projects have raised incomes, they have resulted in widening the chasm between the haves and the have-nots, with the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming further impoverished (despite

62 Sakuntala Narasimhan the Bank’s mission statement of 2003 claiming that it fights poverty with “passion”). Globally, money incomes rose at the rate of 2.5 per cent annually, while the number of people in poverty increased by 100 million, during the decade of the 1990s (Stiglitz 2002). A stark example of the Bank’s insensitivity to the human dimension of development is its disregard of the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams set up by the Bank itself. Two more indicators of the lack of political will to mainstream gender in the Bank’s operations are the woefully inadequate use of gender-disaggregated data (less than 15 percent, by the Bank’s own admission of 2001, as Long points out) and the failure to fill posts of gender coordinator lying vacant for “well over a year” (Long, page 47). The assessment given by Long contains the crucial observation: “Evidence shows that advocacy by women’s organizations around the world has helped to promote the gender advances that have occurred so far in the Bank” (Long, page 50). Women’s groups, in other words, need to become not only vocal but also network globally, knitting the developed and developing regions together, in order to articulate cross-cutting gender concerns and make a dent in the Bank’s operations for promoting gender equity. More importantly, the voices of women from the grassroots in the developing countries need to be heeded because they are the ones who are hit hardest by the inequitable and inappropriate policies of the Bank.

Notes 1 2

Comment from the People’s Health Movement (PHM) in a media report on the WHO director general’s speech, May 18, 2004. Walden Bello, executive director of Focus on Global South, in the March issue of Focus on Trade (2001a).The Meltzer Committee report argued that the Bank is “irrelevant to the question of solving poverty and should be radically reduced in terms of scale and functions.” See also Bello (2001b).

References Abuya, Pamela (2002) “The Institution of Mikayi: Gains or Challenge?”, paper presented at the Eighth Women’s Worlds 2002 International Conference, at Kampala, Uganda, July 2002. Ahmad, Nilufar (1992) “Battling the World Bank: an interview with Nilufar Ahmad,” Multinational Monitor, October 10, 1992. Available online at http://www.multi nationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1992/10/mm1092_09.html (Accessed September 16, 2005). Bello, Walden (2001a) “The Global Conjecture,” Focus on Trade, 60, March. —— (2001b) “Genoa and the multiple crises of globalization,” Focus on Trade, 64, July. Itano, Nicole (2003) “Women trade unsafe sex for survival in Lesotho,” Women’s eNews, June 1, 2003. Available online at http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/ aid/1350/context/archive (Accessed September 16, 2005). Mehta, Pradeep (1993) “Fury over a River,” Multinational Monitor, December. Stiglitz, Joseph (2002) Globalization and its Discontents, London: Penguin Books. Wysham, Daphne and Vallette, Jim (1997) “Changing the Earth’s Climate for Business – the World Bank and the Greenhouse Effect,” Multinational Monitor, October.

Part II

Policy evaluations


Engendering Development A critique Rose-Marie Avin

Introduction The World Bank Policy Research Report entitled Engendering Development: Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice explores the connections between economic development, existing institutions, and gender inequality in the Third World. The Report also discusses in great detail the role of public policy in promoting gender equality in the world. Given that the Report emphasizes the role of economic development as a key element in improving gender equality in the Third World, this chapter addresses four concerns dealing with the concept of economic development and its connections to gender equality. First, the Report does not explain clearly the objectives of economic development and does not make explicit the distinction between economic growth and economic development, sometimes using the two terms interchangeably (World Bank 2001: 1,182). Second, the Report fails to take into consideration the issues of class, race, and ethnicity, a very important omission in the case of Latin American countries where huge income disparities exist. The dynamic process of economic development and its impact on gender equality will play out differently for working-class, middleclass and upper-class women. It is important to acknowledge differences among women in terms of race and ethnicity. Third, I disagree with the Report’s conclusion that “on balance the evidence suggests that females’ absolute status and gender equality improved, not deteriorated” (ibid.: 215) during the structural adjustment period of the 1980s and 1990s in Latin America. My contention is that the neoliberal economic model that resulted from Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) has worsened the economic conditions of the majority of women in Latin America. Women have less access to resources and are still bearing the economic, emotional, and physical costs of structural adjustment. Fourth, the Report needs to acknowledge that Third World women, and especially women’s organizations, have been and are agents of change in transforming their own lives and societies. Not only should women become the beneficiaries of economic development but also the agents of economic development. All four concerns will be discussed in the context of Latin America, more specifically in the realities of Brazil and Nicaragua.

66 Rose-Marie Avin

Economic development, growth, and gender equality Why is it important to start the Report with a definition of economic development? Throughout the Report, the authors use the terms “economic growth” and “economic development” interchangeably, which makes it difficult to follow their argument considering that the two terms convey different meanings. It is quite possible that the authors believe that economic growth leads automatically to economic development, a link that has been widely rejected in the development literature. In this case, the authors should reconceptualize their meaning of economic development to include the new scholarship that is widely accepted in the development literature. Incorporating the new meaning of economic development in the analysis is important for three reasons: 1 2


To present the multidimensional aspect of the concept; To develop a more coherent argument establishing effectively the interconnections between the different dimensions of the development process and the various ways they contribute to gender equality; To help policymakers at the World Bank develop more effective policies to deal with problems in the Third World.

Since World War II, the meaning of development has moved away from the narrower view associated with economic growth, income growth, industrialization, and modernization and toward a broader definition that includes both economic and non-economic dimensions. According to Michael Todaro, there are three “core values of development” (Todaro 2000: 16): sustenance – the ability to meet basic needs; self-esteem – the ability to develop a sense of self-worth and self-respect; and freedom from servitude – the ability to choose and be emancipated from alienating social, material, and political conditions. This definition involves major social, political, and economic changes that can radically alter institutions in Third World societies. Todaro’s definition is also consistent with Amartya Sen’s definition of development as “a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy” (Sen 1999: 3). According to Sen, there are five distinct types of freedom: political, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security. All five elements of Sen’s definition are interrelated and are the objectives of development. Based on this definition, a successful development strategy can lead to the improvement of the well-being of all individuals in society. In addition, Sen argues that “freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means” (ibid.: 10). His meaning of development is also an agent-oriented view where individuals can shape their own destiny. Sen’s definition is important because it captures well the process of social, economic, and political transformation that needs to happen in order to achieve an economic development that promotes gender equality. Sen’s analytical framework will be analyzed again at the end of this paper to explain the process of gender empowerment that has been happening in Latin America.

Engendering Development 67 The definitions of economic development given above make it obvious that economic development is a multidimensional process that can contribute to the empowerment of women and reduce gender inequality. The same argument can not be made for economic growth in the way that the World Bank Report implies. Empirical studies have shown that economic growth alone may not improve the well-being of the vast majority of people in the Third World. “Growth of GNP or of individual incomes can, of course, be very important as ‘means’ to expanding the freedoms enjoyed by the members of the society” (ibid.: 3). Some empirical studies (Adelman 1975), however, have shown that the poorest members of society may become worse off with economic growth. An extensive empirical study of 43 developing countries by Irma Adelman showed that the primary impact of economic growth has been to decrease both the absolute and the relative incomes of the poor. So, there is no trickle down with economic growth as this Report seems to imply. According to Adelman, “the poorest segments of the population typically benefit from economic growth only when the government plays an important role and when widespread efforts are made to improve the human resource base” (ibid.: 302–3). During the 1960s, many developing countries such as Brazil and Mexico that experienced high rates of economic growth realized that the growth did not bring significant benefits to the poor (Todaro 2000: 152). In Latin America, standards of living of the poor either stagnated or declined in real terms (ibid.: 152). At the same time, gender inequality did not seem to diminish for the vast majority of poor, working-class women. Considering the wealth of evidence, it is imperative that policymakers at the World Bank reconceptualize the meaning of economic development to show more effectively the relationship between economic development and gender equality and, more importantly, develop more successful policies. The case of Brazil discussed below shows that economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to improve the lives of the vast majority of people and to improve gender equality.

Economic transformation and women in Brazil: 1950–2000 What has been the impact of economic growth on the lives of women in Brazil? Did it lead to an improvement in gender equality as stipulated by the World Bank Report? According to Silvia Berger, women in South America “experienced considerable changes in their economic status as a result of deep transformations in the region’s societies” (Berger 1999: 246). The region’s emphasis on industrial growth after the 1930s, urbanization, and social movements have all contributed to the transformation of women’s lives. The emphasis on industrialization combined with the existence of a highly unequal land distribution in the rural areas led to rapid migration into the major cities of South America, with women forming the largest component of the migrant population (ibid.: 247).

68 Rose-Marie Avin Economic growth and gender equality Brazilian women migrated to the urban areas in large numbers, with the vast majority going to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. As a consequence, the percentage of women working in agriculture fell from 31 percent in 1950 to 15.3 percent in 1980 (Inter-American Development Bank 1987: 104–5). At the same time, their share of services increased from 43.6 percent to 65.7 percent during the same period (ibid.: 104–5). Their labor force participation rate in the formal sector also increased from 16.8 percent in 1960 to 26.6 percent in 1985 (Arriagada 1995: 334) to 30.3 percent in 1990 (Delgado et al. 2000: 112). These official data do not capture the full contribution of women to the economy. They tend to underestimate women’s participation in the labor market because their work in the household is not measured and also because many women work in the informal sector. The emphasis on import-substitution industrialization (ISI) based on capitalintensive manufacturing absorbed only a fraction of the labor force. Consequently, the vast majority of female migrants were not able to find jobs in the growing manufacturing sector. Some women found jobs in the textile and garment industries. However, the vast majority of jobs for women were in the services sector. Many women were able to find jobs as shop clerks, secretaries, teachers, and nurses as a result of expanding state services in public education, health, and social security (Berger 1999: 246–57). A few well-educated women found positions in academia and law. For the women with little education who migrated from the rural areas, it was not easy to find a job in the formal sector. They ended up in what is known as the informal economy, which comprises the self-employed and small-scale family-owned enterprises. They engaged in an array of activities that include street vending and prostitution. Others found jobs as domestic servants. During the 1980s, it was estimated that one-third of the employed women in Brazil were in domestic service, acting as nannies, cooks, and maids (Library of Nations 1987: 65). According to Todaro, workers in the informal sector do not have job security, decent working conditions, or old-age pensions. Most live in “favelas” (shanty towns) and lack access to public services such as transportation, and educational and health services (Todaro 2000: 297). Empirical studies also show substantial segmentation of the labor market by gender, that is women in the labor market are concentrated in a few low-level occupations. In 1980, the vast majority of the personal service workers were women (92.4 percent), and of the maids and washerwomen (92.4 percent) (Arriagada 1995: 33). In spite of the gains realized by educated Brazilian women in terms of better access to professional jobs, income received by women is lower than income received by men at all levels of education and for all professions. In 1985, women received 52.8 percent of the average male income in São Paulo. Empirical studies have shown that the higher the level of education, the larger the income gap is. Furthermore, male income is always higher for the same occupations. One

Engendering Development 69 interesting fact is that, in Latin America, the female working population has higher levels of education than the female population that does not participate in the labor market, and also more education than both the working and nonworking male population (ibid.: 335). In Brazil, there does not seem to exist differences in educational attainment between men and women but there are differences between women at different class levels. In 1998, the female adult literacy rate as a percentage of the male rate was 100 percent (Human Development Report 2000: 256). In 1997, the ratio of the female primary age group enrollment as a percentage of the male rate was 94 percent (ibid.: 256). In 1997, the ratio of the female secondary age group enrollment as a percentage of the male ratio was 103 percent. During the period 1994–7, the percentage of female tertiary students as a percentage of males was 116 percent (ibid.: 256). However, huge inequalities based on race and class remain in the educational system. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Education, “although 44 percent of all Brazilians are blacks and mestizos, they constitute about 70 percent of all poor and indigent” (Ministry of Education 2000: 4). Furthermore, while the illiteracy rate is 9 percent among Caucasians, it is 22 percent among Afro-Brazilians. As for schooling, the Caucasian population has an average schooling rate of 6.2 years compared to 4.2 years for blacks and mestizos (ibid.: 4). Also, it was estimated that 93 percent of domestic workers are women of color (Castro 1995: 28). Significant demographic changes also took place during the time of rapid economic transformation. Brazil experienced decreases in the mortality rate, increases in life expectancy, and a fall in fertility rates. The fertility rate declined from 5.6 children in 1965 to 3.9 in 1980 and to 2.3 in 1997 (World Development Report 1999/2000, 2000). During the period 1990–8, 77 percent of Brazilian women had access to contraception (ibid.: 242). This signifies that women have more control over their lives, and are able to increase their participation in the labor market because of fewer responsibilities at home. It is obvious that modernization and industrialization in Brazil had different effects on the roles of women of various races and social classes. On the one hand, economic growth and the expansion of higher education created new jobs and educational opportunities for Euro-Brazilian, middle-class women (Alvarez 1990: 9). Gender discrimination continues, however, in the labor market in terms of occupational segregation and earning gaps. Not only does there exist a large income gap between men and women in Brazil, it seems that the higher the educational level, the higher the income gap is. On the other hand, millions of poor and working-class women were pushed into low-paying, lowstatus jobs in the most exploitative sectors of the economy. As Brazil underwent many economic crises during the late 1970s as a result of the oil crisis, hundreds of thousands of poor, working-class women sought solutions to their families’ economic problems by participating in the community self-help organizations and grassroots social movements that sprang up throughout Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s (ibid.). At the same time, the rapid entry of Euro-Brazilian,

70 Rose-Marie Avin middle-class women into academia and other professions started a debate about women’s equality among Brazilian intellectuals. What role did the women’s movement play in the improvement of women’s status in Brazil? Social movements The Brazilian women’s movement played a key role in the promotion of gender equality in Brazil. According to Sonia Alvarez: In the 1970s and 1980s Brazilians witnessed the emergence and development of what is arguably the largest, most diverse, most radical, and most successful women’s movement in contemporary Latin America. By the mid-1980s, tens of thousands of women had been politicized by the women’s movement and core items of the feminist agenda had made their way into the platforms and programs of all major political parties and into the public policies of the New Brazilian Republic. (Alvarez 1994: 3) According to the Feminist Center for Studies and Advisory Services (CFEMEA), the decade of the 1970s represented a milestone for the women’s movement in Brazil. That time period saw the rise of feminist ideology and of women’s groups struggling for the democratization of Brazilian social and political relations. At the same time, the International Women’s Year was celebrated in 1975 around the globe. The Decade of Women was also launched and, in Brazil, hundreds of women’s groups emerged in the periphery of major cities. Over 400 self-professed feminist organizations were formed during the 1970s and 1980s (CFEMEA 1999: 10). At the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s, the women’s movement broadened and diversified, extending itself into political parties, unions, and community associations. As a consequence, changes were made in the Federal Constitution and in public policies in order to fight the oppression of women in Brazilian society. The Constitution guaranteed the right to family planning, to protection against family violence, and to childcare and pre-school centers. Furthermore, common-law marriage was recognized as a family nucleus and discrimination against children born out of wedlock was prohibited. At the same time, many institutions and programs were created to facilitate women’s equality before the law: Women’s Rights Councils, special police stations for victims of domestic violence, specific integral health programs, and programs for the prevention of and the care for women victims of sexual and domestic violence (ibid.). During the 1990s, the women’s movement took on a broader scope and a large number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) arose. This led to a diversity of projects and strategies and new structural and mobilization forms were created. For example, the following organizations were created: the Concerted Action of Brazilian Women (AMB), the National Feminist Network

Engendering Development 71 on Health and Reproductive Rights (RedeSaude), networks of rural and urban women workers, women researchers, religious women, Black women, lesbians, and others. Campaigns were launched, such as the For Women’s Life campaign to maintain the right to abortion as codified in the Brazilian Penal Code when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk or when the pregnancy results from rape (ibid.). It can be concluded that gender equality improved in Brazil for a small percentage of women as the state sector expanded during the period of the 1970s known as the “Economic Miracle,” a period in which many Euro-Brazilian and middle-class women gained access to education and economic opportunities. Furthermore, women’s participation in the democratization process during the 1980s created a political space that translated into increased rights as women and as citizens of Brazil. Brazil’s economic achievements, however, did not improve the lives of the vast majority of Brazilians, including Brazilian women. For Brazilian women who are poor and working-class, the socioeconomic reality was different. As they poured out of the rural areas, they ended up struggling for economic survival in the informal sector of Brazil’s major cities. Women of color, in particular, seem to be at the bottom of the economic ladder. The results discussed above refute the contention of the World Bank Report that economic growth automatically leads to economic development and to improvements in gender equality. By equating economic development with economic growth and by ignoring the role of class, race, and ethnicity in society the Report failed to correctly identify the various mechanisms through which economic development can lead to increased gender equality. In the next section, I will discuss how Nicaraguan women made major strides toward gender equality during the 1980s but lost ground as a result of the structural adjustment policies of the 1990s advocated by the World Bank. This case again shows the need for policymakers at the World Bank to redefine economic development.

Empowerment and women in Nicaragua: 1980–2000 In this section, I discuss why I reject the World Bank Policy Research Report’s conclusion that “on balance the evidence suggests that females’ absolute status and gender equality improved, not deteriorated” (World Bank 2001: 215) during the structural adjustment period in Latin America. My contention is that the neoliberal economic model that resulted from structural adjustment has worsened the economic conditions of the vast majority of women in Nicaragua. Nicaraguan women made far-reaching gains during the socialist Sandinista government that was in power from 1979 to 1990. A society with extreme concentration of income, wealth and political power was dismantled and replaced by a more egalitarian society. Galvanized by their participation in the revolutionary struggle that overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza, women demanded that their agenda make its way into the programs and public policies of the new socialist Sandinista government. For the first time in Nicaraguan society, women had a government that was somewhat sympathetic to their concerns.

72 Rose-Marie Avin During the 1980s, conditions were created that had the potential to radically alter the private and public lives of Nicaraguan women. Major policies were instituted to remove legal, social, and economic obstacles that prevented women from participating as equal citizens in society. In fact, Nicaragua put into effect many of the same policies advocated in the World Bank Report in its threepart strategy to promote gender equality. According to the Report, countries should: 1) reform institutions to establish equal rights and opportunities for women and men; 2) foster economic development to strengthen incentives for more equal resources and participation; 3) take active measures to redress persistent disparities in command over resources and political voice (ibid.: 15–26). Many laws were instituted to improve women’s productive and earning capacity, and to change sex roles in society. In 1981, the Law of Cooperatives was established, which gave women the right to own land. Other laws required that women be provided with maternity leave and receive equal pay for equal work. Furthermore, there were large investments in education. In 1975, onethird of University students were women. By 1985, the number was 56.3 percent, partly due to the existence of the war that began in 1981 between the Sandinista army and a group of Contra Revolutionaries (Contras, for short), created and sponsored by the United States government. Still, in 1992, two years after the war ended, women constituted 51.7 percent of all university students (Hutauruk 1998). There were also increased expenditures on health care, nutrition, and greater access to credit and job training. In addition, women obtained the right to divorce and to have custody of their children. Moreover, a number of institutions were created to increase women’s awareness of the new laws and to help in their implementation. In 1979, a women’s legal office (Oficina Legal de la Mujer) was created to deal with sex discrimination, non-payment of child support, domestic violence, and other legal problems affecting women (Chamorro 1989; Avin 1993; Chinchilla 1995; Babb 2001). Women also played a significant role in the political arena. Their political participation was massive, although it varied among women according to their social status. While many poor women entered the political arena at the grassroots level by joining popular organizations, middle- and upper-class women achieved high positions such as ministers or regional party coordinators. One woman, Dora Maria Tellez, became Minister of Health while six other women were vice ministers. In the National Assembly, 18.5 percent were women (Hutauruk 1998). Furthermore, many women occupied high-level positions in various government ministries (ibid.). An incredible phenomenon took place in Nicaraguan society during the 1980s: working class and peasant women increased their rights, their access to resources, and for the first time had a voice in their community. They were working at the grassroots levels, in both the rural and urban sectors, to increase the level of feminist consciousness among women and in society at large. These women, strong and powerful leaders at the community, national, and international level, were able to articulate the problems of women in Nicaragua and use creative strategies to alleviate them and thus empower women in the process.

Engendering Development 73 At the same time, a number of women’s centers providing health services, family planning services, consciousness-raising and sexuality workshops were formed throughout the country. The electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990 brought all the advancements toward gender equality to a stop. The socialist government was replaced by a coalition government, headed by a woman, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. Programs of economic stabilization and structural adjustment were put into effect to deal with the debt crisis, hyperinflation, and economic stagnation. With the economic restructuring, gone were the subsidies for utilities, public transport, education, health care, and nutritional programs. Gone were the training programs, free lunch meals, paid pregnancy leaves, and childcare programs. In 1991, the economy deteriorated and women struggled to make ends meet. The small degree of control they had gained over their lives during the 1980s seemed to have evaporated overnight. This is not surprising, considering that women were bearing a disproportionate share of the costs of the structural adjustment policies put into effect by the Chamorro government (Chamorro 1989; Avin 1993; Chinchilla 1995; Babb 2001). Women were the first ones to be laid off, especially in the state sector where they constituted the majority of state workers. Consequently, many joined the informal economy, becoming street vendors, domestic workers, and prostitutes. Furthermore, it is reported that many small industries “had been particularly hard hit and that women, 54 percent of its membership, were the most affected” (Babb 2001: 166). In addition, most female workers in the garment and food industries lost their jobs because of privatization and lower tariffs on imported goods (ibid.). Women’s burden also increased in the households. As primary caretakers, women spent more time caring for children and other members of the household since public health services have not only declined but are also charging fees for visits and medication. Lower incomes and higher prices have meant that many women were unable to provide for their families. Hence, women were spending more time in the labor force and more time on meeting the basic needs of their families (Chamorro 1989; Avin 1993; Chinchilla 1995; Babb 2001). The inherent gender bias in Nicaraguan society, the restructuring in agriculture and in industry toward large-scale production, the demise of small-scale agriculture and industry, the flood of cheap imports, the collapse of the informal economy where more than 75 percent of women were employed, the elimination of all subsidies have all meant that Nicaraguan women have become more oppressed economically. Currently, 58.8 percent of working-age women are unemployed and underemployed, and of those who are employed 75.5 percent work in the informal sector – the employer of last resort (Agurto Vilchez and Gido Cajina 2001). How are Nicaraguan women surviving today in the new free market economy that emphasizes the manufacturing of export goods in industrial parks?

74 Rose-Marie Avin Growth of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) In Nicaragua, factories operating under Free Trade Zone (FTZ) policies increased considerably during the period 1991–2001. In 1976, Nicaragua had one industrial park, “Las Mercedes,” with 11 factories producing mostly clothes for the United States market (Comision Nacional of Zonas Francas 2001: 12). However, between 1979 and 1980, those factories closed their doors and moved their operations elsewhere in Central America. In 1991, with funds received from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, new industrial parks were created and the foreign investors came back (ibid.). The sector exploded. Today, the FTZ system consists of 12 industrial parks. The number of firms increased from 8 in 1992 to 45 in 2001 (ibid.: 13). The sector has also been the most dynamic in terms of job creation: the number of jobs increased from 1003 in 1992 to 38,792 in 2001 (ibid.: 17). At the same time, the value of exports grew from 2.9 million to 230 million dollars during the same period (ibid.: 18). While the sector contributed 7.5 percent to total exports in 1994, its contribution reached 32 percent in 2000 (ibid.). Of the 45 firms operating in the FTZs, 14 are from Taiwan and 13 from the United States (ibid.: 13). In terms of goods produced, the vast majority of firms (73 percent) are engaged in the production of clothes, while 16 percent are in tobacco (ibid.). The firms produce mainly for the United States market. What has been the impact of such growth on women in Nicaragua? There is no doubt that the FTZs sector is an important source of employment for poor Nicaraguan women. It is estimated that 70 percent of the workers are women, with about 50 percent being heads of households. For Nicaraguan women, having a job in the FTZs means not having to sell food and trinkets on the streets and also not having to leave the country to become maids in Costa Rica. The reality is that there are no jobs in other sectors in Nicaragua (Interview with Sonia Agurto Vilchez, 17 January 2002). While the FTZs have been a major source of employment for women, they have not created jobs that can bring women out of poverty and contribute to their empowerment. On the contrary, management in these factories pays low wages, provides difficult working conditions and no health care, and tries to suppress the women’s labor rights. According to Sonia Agurto of FIDEG, a well-known research institution in Nicaragua, the average monthly salary in the FTZs is 850 cordobas (about US$65) higher than the minimum wage of 400 cordobas (US$29). However, the basic market basket for a family of five cost 2550 cordobas (US$185). It takes three persons working in a FTZ to buy the basic market basket. To make ends meet, many women work extremely long hours (ibid.). Working conditions are also difficult. There have been reported cases of physical mistreatment, as was illustrated by the revolt at Chentex during the mid1990s. At Chentex, workers rose up because of poor working conditions and the fact that they were not treated with respect by management. They were

Engendering Development 75 treated like “cattle” as one former worker said. As for the suppression of labor rights, the various efforts of Nicaraguan workers trying to form unions have been well recorded in the press. According to Gladis Manzanares, former general secretary of one of the labor unions in the FTZs, one of the major problems is the difficulty of forming labor unions. Workers suspected of forming labor unions get fired and that can be a devastating blow for a female head of household. Furthermore, many women do not know the law and their rights (Interview with Gladyz Manzanares, 17 January 2002). It is obvious that this neoliberal development model of FTZs has not led to the transformation of women’s lives through economic empowerment, but rather reinforces the conditions of marginalization of women in Nicaraguan society. Job segregation from the outset gives women unskilled production jobs that are the poorest paid. Lacking access to on-the-job training, women are not moving up the job ladder and are not acquiring economic, social, and political power. One organization working to empower women is the “Maria Elena Cuadra” (MEC), a women’s organization working to improve the human rights of women, especially of women in the FTZs. This organization provides scholarships for nontraditional jobs, has a small credit program for unemployed women, teaches women about their labor rights, and provides training for negotiation techniques. According to Sandra Ramos, the head of MEC, women need to have a conscio