“We need to mobilize the right level of resources to push the gender agenda forward,” AfDB Gender retreat heard

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“Working in synergy and speaking in the same voice for harmonized implementation of the strategy to mainstream gender in Bank operations,” was the centrepiece of discussions among the African Development Bank’s Gender and Social Development specialists, on December 12, 2013 in Tunis. The Fragile States Director Sibry Tapsoba facilitated the discussions.

The Bank’s Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who convened the meeting, was connected through videoconferencing in South Africa Resource Center in Pretoria. In her opening remarks, she observed that mainstreaming Gender in Bank operations is crucial in the successful implementation of projects, stressing that “harmonization, coordination and teamwork would help.”

Referring specifically to the best practices, she noted the work done by other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). Coherence across the MDBs should incentivize the African Development Bank to do even more on gender. In this regard, she revealed that World Bank Group promotes gender equality in developing countries through lending, grants, knowledge, and analysis and policy dialogue.

The Asian Development Bank, for its part, has adopted corporate gender targets to be met by 2012, with project gender action plans as a mainstreaming tool to deliver gender equality outcomes, and country gender assessments to develop country partnership strategies and programs, she noted.

The Gender policy of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) commits the institution to undertake both proactive and preventive actions, using tools such as gender mainstreaming, direct investment and gender safeguards. “This is all part of the recognition by the Bank that gender equality is central accelerating the process of economic and social development,” she said, adding that the IDB launched a Gender and Diversity Fund in 2009. The Fund committed US $10 million in grant resources and US $6 million in contributions from donors to support gender and diversity mainstreaming.

Referring to the IFC, she said the institution issues Women in Business bonds in the international capital markets as part of its strategy to target global, regional and local institutions and SMEs that promote women entrepreneurs.

Speaking to the participants, Tapsoba called for strong support to Fragile States. “Africa is diverse and the needs are different. We need to pay more attention to conflict-affected areas in the continent, and strongly support the countries’ gender issues,” he explained.

He also identified elements that will help leverage the Bank’s strategy on mainstreaming gender in operations, to be approved in January, which he recalled, “is a Bank-wide strategy.” “Expectations are very high. After approval of the strategy by the Board, there will be need for division of labour for smooth implementation,” he said.

He said, to leverage the strategy, there is need for teamwork and cohesion; strengthened coordination, with the Special Envoy taking the leadership; focus on people in the field to implement the strategy; need to strengthen our capacity and bringing in Research and Statistics departments. For Tapsoba, there is also need to focus on monitoring and evaluation, as well as communicating on what the Bank does.

Giving an overview of the meeting, the Bank’s Quality Assurance and Results Department Director, Simon Mizrahi, expressed the need for establishing a gender flagship. He focused on what mainstreaming gender should mean to staff and also expressed the need to be more creative. “We need to mobilize the right level of resources to push the gender agenda forward,” he added.

During the two-day discussions, gender specialists will reflect on how best to share work plans in order to avoid duplication of efforts; agree on a common work plan for the events of the Bank’s 50th anniversary and discuss modalities for the implementation of the gender strategy.