The Challenge: Supporting transformational change in countries affected by Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV)  

Addressing gender inequalities to produce change that is relevant, inclusive, deep, sustainable, and scalable in risky and weak environments is a complex task, which requires strong skills, collaboration, and local capacity exactly where these resources are particularly scarce. 

Transformational change and its elements


The World Bank Group recognizes the need to support FCV countries to produce relevant, inclusively owned, deep, sustainable, and scalable changes 

This evaluation analyzed in depth about 40 project designs in 6 FCV countries. These projects were those contributing to women’s and girls’ economic empowerment (WGEE) and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response. 

The evaluation found that several projects were generally strong in one or more of these elements, particularly relevance and inclusive ownership.  

It also found that the elements of transformational change are often too weak and in about one fourth of all projects they were barely detectable. 

Depth, sustainability, and scale are the weakest elements.

Elements of transformational change for all projects compared to recent projects​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group


The Bank Group faces challenges in easing the trade-off among these elements 

Depth, sustainability, and scalability were much less prevalent in designs than relevance and inclusive ownership.  

Crucially, there are trade-offs among these three elements, and, as a result, the three are rarely found together in the same project design.  

No single project contained all five elements - no project was “fully transformational.” 

Elements Contributing to Transformational Change in Project Design​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


Recent WGEE- and GBV-related projects have a greater transformational potential compared with older projects 

Individual projects have improved in their design, and therefore in their promise to deliver results.  

The most recent projects (approved in 2019 or later) have more transformative elements than those approved in earlier periods. Many of these recent transformational projects are follow-on phases from previous projects.  

Moreover, almost all projects with the most transformational elements are recent. 

This shows that the Bank Group has applied lessons learned from previous projects to new designs in the same country or others. 

Elements of transformational change for all projects compared to recent projects​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


Weak M&E frameworks make it difficult to track progress on WGEE and GBV 

Projects with stronger monitoring and evaluation frameworks report sex-disaggregated outcome data—for example, the percentage of women employed after a job training program or the net enrollment rate of girls.  

Projects with outcome and output indicators were few, however. Two thirds of the projects analyzed only measured either the share of women or girls whom the project reaches, or the share of women or girls who benefit from an element of the project.  

Prevalence of indicators related to WGEE and gender-based violence in analyzed monitoring and evaluation frameworks​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


Addressing gender inequalities related to WGEE and GBV is rarely a priority for the Bank Group when addressing poverty and fragility 

Most of the 200+ key informants interviewed believe that the Bank Group could be more impactful in supporting a country gender agenda if it used its multiple strengths for this purpose.  

When asked to indicate the comparative advantage of the Bank Group in supporting WGEE and addressing GBV, almost none of the key informants outside the Bank Group stated that it prioritizes gender in the country engagement—and no Bank Group staff did. 

The widely recognized Bank Group influencing power and technical capacity to deliver knowledge and development solutions are not adequately used to move the needle on gender issues.  

Key Informants’ Opinions on the World Bank Group’s Potential Comparative Advantage​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


Many factors can foster or constrain transformational change in design… 

Projects with greater transformational potential are those that prioritized WGEE or GBV in designs. This is also true of non-stand-alone projects (those that were not designed to explicitly promote WGEE or address GBV) when they mobilized gender skills, financial resources, and analytical expertise to this end. 

Contextual factors can make it difficult for the Bank Group to achieve transformational change on GBV and WGEE, but in many cases these factors can be anticipated and internalized in project designs. 

The Bank Group frequently consulted and involved local stakeholders, including women’s organizations, in project implementation, but normally did not in project design, which reduced the relevance, ownership, and sustainability of results.  

Factors Enabling and Constraining the Transformational Potential of Worst and Best Project Designs​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


…and many factors are also critical in enabling or constraining transformational change in implementation 

Sustaining resources and staff awareness during implementation is critical to transition from a design’s transformational potential to achieving transformational change. Projects that had no dedicated budgets for addressing women’s needs, constraints, and expectations had trouble supporting their economic empowerment. 

Gender norms constrained WGEE progress and GBV prevention and response in context-specific ways, but the Bank Group used various approaches during implementation to address them. These strategies include disguising sensitive interventions within standard ones, sensitizing communities to activities that challenge traditional gender norms, not openly challenging gender norms but working through them, and in a few cases, transforming gender norms directly. 

Factors Enabling and Constraining the Achievement of Change for the Worst and Best Project Designs​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


Coordination and collaboration among the Bank Group and external stakeholders on WGEE and GBV is critical both at design and implementation 

Such collaboration allows an integrated approach to supporting WGEE and addressing GBV, whereby each stakeholder contributes to specific issues, covers different geographical areas, and targets different beneficiary groups. The involvement of multiple local stakeholders also ensures broad and effective ownership over interventions. 

The Bank Group’s coordination and collaboration are strong with implementing partners on specific projects but are weak with non-implementing partners (donors, women’s rights organizations, NGOs, and INGOs). 

Top-down planning without meaningful consultations with key stakeholders, including women and girls, can undermine projects that promote WGEE or address GBV. 

Opinions of Key Informants on the Bank Group’s Performance in Coordinating, Establishing, and Leading Partnerships to Address Gender Inequalities​

Source: Independent Evaluation Group 


For further reading: Addressing Gender Inequalities in Countries Affected by Fragility, Conflict, and Violence 

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