Walking the talk: Mainstreaming gender into the Bank’s operations

05/03/2015
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As the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8,2015, the issue of mainstreaming gender within the African Development Bank’s operations is in sharp focus. Simon Mizrahi, Director of the Quality Assurance and Results Department, emphasised that the Bank is keen to include gender mainstreaming in all its affairs as stipulated in the Gender Strategy.

“This is fundamental since it has to do with the credibility of the Bank in addressing gender equality. The Bank is walking the gender talk. We have to do this in order for the Bank to authoritatively talk about gender,” he said.

A Plan of Action for Operationalising Gender Mainstreaming at the African Development Bank Group lays a foundation of how to entrench gender within the Bank’s systems and process. “Mainstreaming gender equality is not an option; it is an integral part of the Bank’s development mandate,” the document states.

There has been an increase in the number of Bank projects that have integrated gender, from 31% in 2009 to 77% currently. According to Mizrahi, more still needs to be done. “We cannot be effective if we neglect one gender, which forms half of Africa’s population. We have to refer to the plan of action, which details measures of increasing gender information especially within Bank projects.” 

The Plan of Action sets out reforms which the Bank must undertake to promote a more gender-sensitive institution. These include appointing 50 gender focal points in all departments, and incorporating an element of gender and development into the Bank’s training modules, as well as effectively allocating financial resources for gender activities, among others.

The overarching statement in the plan of action and Gender Strategy is that gender equality has to be a central part of the Bank’s development agenda, not a competing priority. “When we begin to see the issue from this perspective, then we are compelled to address the gaps in gender equality, say Mizrahi.

Similarly the Bank is soon to launch the Africa Gender Equality Index 2015, which highlights specific gender disparities in African countries. It looks at inequality through three different prisms; human development, economic empowerment and laws and institutions.