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How to Implement a Strategy to Close Gender Gaps?

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Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank. Prof. Amivi Kafui Tete-Benissan (left) teaches cell biology and biochemistry at the University of Lomé. She’s also a vocal activist who encourages girls to pursue science as a career path. “Female students represent only 10 percent of our student body in science and engineering,” she says sadly.
Many large development organizations face challenges in implementing a gender strategy. A mid-term review of the World Bank Group’s Gender Strategy uses a theory of action to illustrate the institutional factors that enable implementation. Recent evaluations in the African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the World Food Program point to difficulties in helping staff to think Show MoreMany large development organizations face challenges in implementing a gender strategy. A mid-term review of the World Bank Group’s Gender Strategy uses a theory of action to illustrate the institutional factors that enable implementation. Recent evaluations in the African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the World Food Program point to difficulties in helping staff to think and act with a gender lens in their work. Key issues often revolve around who supports staff, how to resource support and what knowledge is required to assist implementation. The current gender strategy of the World Bank Group has defined the institution’s approach since 2016. At the heart of the Gender Strategy is a move towards the prioritization of gender gaps drawing upon focused analysis, action and measurement. The gender gap approach seeks to address deficits identified in the gender mainstreaming approach (used previously), such as: weaknesses in embedding a gender equality orientation across organizations, fragmented results and low replication of success (UNU-WIDER, 2014: 13). A recently completed IEG mid-term review of the World Bank Group’s Gender Strategy identifies opportunities to maximize implementation efforts. The review found that commitment to the Gender Strategy by Bank Group management and staff has translated into progress against plans and good practices in implementing the strategy. This commitment is reflected in changes in how organizational goals are framed and in the increased number of projects targeting gender gaps. When support was well defined, resourced, and coordinated, it helped projects address specific gender gaps for agreed priorities. While commitment at the level of strategy is a prerequisite, actions at the level of the country portfolio and in coordinating support, are also needed. The review found that challenges in implementation arose when there was a lack of support to help identify a gender gap, limited ability to translate technical knowledge into practice, or limited monitoring of gender in projects implementation. To visualize and discuss needed enhancements we put together what evaluators call a theory of action – a diagram that describes the important elements for implementation, their design and connections. The theory of action identified four interconnected institutional elements and factors that enable the implementation of the strategy: commitment to strategic objectives; prioritizing gaps at a country-level; coordinated support to implementation; and monitoring and evaluation of commitments and projects from design to closure. The diagram below elaborates on these four areas.   Commitment to Strategic Objectives Maintaining a focus on the strategic objectives requires strong commitment from the management and governance structures of the organization. Buy-in is necessary for successful implementation of the strategy through, for example, creating staff incentives to reinforce the strategy’s aims. Without this commitment gender will not remain in focus and other areas of work will become prioritized. Implementation actions need to consistently match this commitment and be commensurate with the level of ambition in the strategy. Prioritization of a Country-driven Approach The gender strategy advances a country-driven approach as a critical pathway to support the closure of gender gaps. In the World Bank Group, a country driven approach is particularly important as country programs form the main unit to define, implement and review progress with national governments. The Gender Strategy highlights that sustained progress to closing gender gaps will accrue through coherent alignment from country objectives to projects, policy dialogue, diagnostics, and monitoring. Fully addressing gender gaps takes sustained effort, spans multiple projects, and can be addressed more strategically using Bank Group instruments collectively in a country. For example, to enable more women to enter the workplace can require a change in childcare practices, which needs a coherent approach comprising of policy change, training and private sector investments to support countrywide implementation. Coordinating Support to Implementation To build on commitment and prioritization a country program needs a range of support. The review noted that implementation of the strategy could be enhanced when four sources of support worked together: knowledge generation, curation and use; gender groups that maintain standards, advise staff who support implementation of the strategy on the prioritization of gaps and help synergize efforts between different organizational siloes; gender specialists, and focal points with contextual and sector know-how who can connect different resources; and gender innovation labs to support new influential efforts to address gaps. The review identified how these four sources enabled or constrained implementation of the strategy. For example, all four play a role in supporting the use of analysis to identify and address gender gaps. Gender groups and Gender Innovation Labs can invest in and champion evidence production, such as, impact evaluations, business cases, and specific studies that can assist project implementation. Yet, even with these sources of support in place, unless operational staff receive assistance from both gender specialists and focal points, evidence on gender gaps can be difficult to access or be too hard to translate into different contexts. Monitoring and Evaluation Cutting across all these areas is the need to monitor and evaluate. Without processes to assess commitments, project design, implementation and outcomes, actions may fail to adapt and attention to gender may weaken. The World Bank has put in place processes to measure progress on closing gender gaps through reporting on both corporate commitments and project design, but less attention to implementation and outcomes. With good monitoring and evaluation of gender gaps, opportunities for adaptation can be identified and the assessment of outcomes can help direct implementation towards success. For example, through monitoring supported by the Gender Action Learning System, a project in Kenya identified during implementation the need for enhanced targeting of women entrepreneurs. Further, as a result of a range of evaluation activities, a commercially viable and effective technical assistance(?) and training program for women-owned and women-led small and medium enterprises was scaled-up. Together monitoring and evaluation help to maintain focus on priority gaps and help understand if the gaps are closing meaningfully. Final Thoughts Ensuring synergies in support helps to overcome implementation bottlenecks. Having well organized support enables actions to be contextualized and focus on prioritized gender gaps. Enhancing internal organizational support models through improved coordination, standards and evidence translation are within the control of development agencies and as review shows, requires continued effort. Read the World Bank Group Gender Strategy Mid-Term Review Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank. Prof. Amivi Kafui Tete-Benissan (left) teaches cell biology and biochemistry at the University of Lomé. She’s also a vocal activist who encourages girls to pursue science as a career path. “Female students represent only 10 percent of our student body in science and engineering,” she says sadly.

World Bank Group Gender Strategy Mid-Term Review

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Colorful image of many silhouettes of women of all races and ages. Image adapted from shutterstock/ Angelina Bambina
The gender strategy Mid-Term Review assesses how well the implementation of the gender strategy positions the World Bank Group to contribute to closing key gender gaps at the midpoint of the strategy’s eight-year cycle (FY16–23). The gender strategy Mid-Term Review assesses how well the implementation of the gender strategy positions the World Bank Group to contribute to closing key gender gaps at the midpoint of the strategy’s eight-year cycle (FY16–23).

Meet the Evaluator: Elena Bardasi

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Elena Bardasi
Building evaluative evidence for the Bank’s gender strategyBuilding evaluative evidence for the Bank’s gender strategy

Doing Business Indicators and Country Reforms (Approach Paper)

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Doing Business is recognized as highly influential in business regulatory reform worldwide, and it is the most used set of indicators on business regulation. Its indicators are widely used and analyzed in the academic literature. They are a component of many other influential indexes, including the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Show MoreDoing Business is recognized as highly influential in business regulatory reform worldwide, and it is the most used set of indicators on business regulation. Its indicators are widely used and analyzed in the academic literature. They are a component of many other influential indexes, including the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, and the Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index. It is cited by many countries in their reform plans and in many World Bank Group project documents and country strategies. Although popular, the DB indicators have also been the subject of controversy regarding their methodology, accuracy, and potential biases and the way they are used in shaping and assessing country policy reforms. The Bank Group and the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) have been called on several times to review DB, largely to respond to such criticisms. In this report, IEG has committed to examine the relevance and effectiveness of the use of DB indicators in guiding client country business environment reforms—both those supported by the Bank Group and those undertaken without its support. This includes an initial stocktaking of literature and existing evaluative evidence to inform an Issues Paper, which will be followed by a Focused Evaluation to assess the DB’s strategic relevance to countries’ reform priorities and to the Bank Group’s strategic agenda. This request came just before the late-August 2020 suspension of the DB report to probe alleged irregularities in the underlying data.

After the Pandemic: evidence for building back better

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After the Pandemic: evidence for building back better
Charting a path to recovery will require evidence on what is working, why, and for whom.Charting a path to recovery will require evidence on what is working, why, and for whom.

Covid-19 has exposed the fragilities of aging countries

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Elderly women are talking and maintaining a safe distance. Thailand. Photo credit: Shutterstock/CGN089
A forthcoming report focuses on much needed areas of attention.A forthcoming report focuses on much needed areas of attention.

From the Great Wall of Trees to Sustainable Management of Landscapes

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IEG visit to Weinalem Watershed in Raya Azebo, Tigray Regional State, Ethiopia, Oct 2019, Photo credit: Bekele Shiferaw
Lessons from Watershed Management Programs in Africa Lessons from Watershed Management Programs in Africa

Argentina: Basic Protection Project (PPAR)

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The Basic Protection Project was prepared in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, in the context of increased pressure to expand coverage and accessibility of Argentina’s social protection policies. The social protection system had historically been linked to the formal labor market through contributory schemes (pension benefits, unemployment insurance, family allowances, health and Show MoreThe Basic Protection Project was prepared in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, in the context of increased pressure to expand coverage and accessibility of Argentina’s social protection policies. The social protection system had historically been linked to the formal labor market through contributory schemes (pension benefits, unemployment insurance, family allowances, health and housing insurance coverage). Noncontributory programs—for children, the unemployed, and informal workers—were limited. The project aimed at strengthening and expanding Argentina’s social protection system by supporting expansion of coverage and improving the design of two income transfer programs for the unemployed and families with children. Ratings for this project are as follows: Outcome was moderately satisfactory, Risk to development outcome was low or negligible, Bank performance was satisfactory, and Borrower performance was moderately satisfactory. This assessment offers the following lessons: (i) The choice of indicators is critical for incentives to be effective, especially when a short implementation time is expected; but the definition of some of the DLIs and the information used to determine their targets were not discussed in detail at appraisal. (ii) This PPAR had to clarify the understanding of “effectiveness,” as it was not made explicit in project documents. (iii) Institutional strengthening of the MTESS statistics area was an important additional aspect of the World Bank’s support, given the peculiar context in which this project was implemented.

The Results Agenda Needs a Steer—What Could Be its New Course?

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A ship cruising across the current on a literal cascade of project management reporting requirements.
Is it time to rethink Results Based Management in international development? We imagine a system that favors learning over compliance.Is it time to rethink Results Based Management in international development? We imagine a system that favors learning over compliance.

Scaling up private capital mobilization for development: Lessons from World Bank Group experience

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Scaling up private capital mobilization for development: Lessons from World Bank Group experience
Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires raising trillions of dollars on an annual basis. Public resources and Official Development Assistance (ADA) will not be enough to finance the SDG agenda. Now there is the additional challenge of finding the resources to cope with the multiple consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mobilizing private capital has a critical role to play in Show MoreMeeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires raising trillions of dollars on an annual basis. Public resources and Official Development Assistance (ADA) will not be enough to finance the SDG agenda. Now there is the additional challenge of finding the resources to cope with the multiple consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mobilizing private capital has a critical role to play in filling the investment gap.   In 2015, Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) committed to adopting a financing framework capable of unlocking, leveraging, and catalyzing more public and private financial flows. A framework where financing from private sources, including capital markets, institutional investors and businesses, has become paramount to mobilize the trillions in investments needed.  In 2017, the World Bank Group (WBG) adopted a definition of private capital mobilization (PCM), jointly agreed with other MDBs and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). The WBG’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) released its first systematic assessment on how relevant and effective the Bank Group has been at channeling private capital for development, the factors that have driven results, and opportunities for the future. IEG’s evaluation finds that the WBG has deployed efforts across its institutions (IBRD, IFC and MIGA) to mobilize private capital either through project level co-financing and/or through pioneering mobilization instruments and platforms. Bank Group PCM approaches have proven to be relevant and have delivered results. In fact, the WBG remains one of the largest contributors to PCM, with about $32 billion mobilized in low- and middle-income countries in 2018.   What factors have been driving results? Several WBG instruments and platforms have been effective in achieving development objectives through PCM. For example, World Bank Guarantees have achieved positive outcomes by reducing risks and improving projects’ bankability at the commitment stage. Creating the right conditions to attract private investments has led to increased financing for key infrastructure and services, benefitting people around the world when these projects reach maturity. IFC syndicated loans have increased client firms’ access to finance and debt, and bond mobilization platforms have been effective in meeting client and investor expectations. MIGA has also been successful and has positioned itself well among MDBs in addressing PCM thanks to its new products (e.g. Credit enhancement) and the share of its exposure that gets reinsured allowing MIGA to offer more guarantees. These new products and guarantees have successfully mobilized private investments for projects ranging from power generation in Sub-Saharan Africa to capital optimization projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bank Group client countries have large untapped potential to crowd in private capital. IEG modeled estimates suggest most Bank Group client countries are attracting only 50-80 percent as much private capital as they could. Unlocking this potential will be especially important to fund the recovery from the pandemic and get back on track to the SDGs. Evidence shows that projects with domestic investor participation, MDB involvement, and World Bank–IFC–MIGA collaboration have better PCM project outcomes. Domestic investors boost project success by engaging actively in the design and implementation stages and by bringing knowledge of the local market and regulations. Projects with domestic investor participation had greater success (80 percent) than those with overseas investors only (60 percent). When other MDB’s are involved, more resources become available and there are shared environmental, social, and governance compliance requirements and monitoring systems to ensure greater quality of outputs and outcomes. Evidence from energy sector projects indicates that concomitant World Bank, IFC, and MIGA interventions have a positive effect on PCM outcomes. These joint interventions involve either working sequentially as a project’s de-risking needs and financing needs evolve.   IFC and MIGA PCM approaches have created a demonstration effect, attracting repeat clients and increasing PCM levels. However, it is not easy to sustain private investment flows in the long term. This demonstration effect of IFC and MIGA PCM approaches happens when IFC or MIGA support the expansion of an ongoing project or the involvement of an existing client in a new project. Investors’ repeat engagement indicates that they trust the Bank Group’s PCM approaches and believe that projects developed through the Bank Group will be sustainable. It takes time and sustained investment, however, to generate sufficient levels of PCM to trigger a demonstrable increase in countries’ overall private capital flows. It is also essential for governments and the Bank Group to continue to support business environment reforms post-PCM and to address constraints that may limit private investments in the long term. What opportunities lie ahead for PCM in the future? Bank Group client countries have large untapped potential to crowd in private capital. IEG modeled estimates suggest most Bank Group client countries are attracting only 50-80 percent as much private capital as they could. Unlocking this potential will be especially important to fund the recovery from the pandemic and get back on track to the SDGs. Both traditional Bank Group PCM solutions (for example, World Bank and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency guarantees, trade finance, and short-term liquidity facilities) and countercyclical approaches (for example, the Distressed Assets Recovery Program) can continue to play important roles in mobilizing private capital in light of the ongoing pandemic. The Bank Group has the potential to help create a more attractive environment for private capital by supporting public policy changes, addressing the lack of a pipeline of bankable projects, and increasing collaboration with other MDBs and DFIs on PCM efforts. This requires the Bank Group to expand existing PCM platforms and approaches, to support policy reforms and disaster risk financing and to continue to innovate and develop new products aligned with the needs of new investor groups and partners.    Read the Evaluation: The World Bank Group’s Approach to the Mobilization of Private Capital for Development Image credit: adapted from VectorMine/shutterstock