AfDB Approves New Four-Year Gender Strategy

Donald KABERUKAThe African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, has approved a new gender strategy from 2014 to 2018 to improve Africa’s economic transformation.

“This represents a major milestone for the bank, and it puts in place one of the critical foundations for realising the ‘Africa at 50’ and ‘post-2015’ development agendas,” said Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender.

“What is new in this strategy is not just the recognition that gender equality is a human right, but that development will not happen unless women are fully included in the process.  It will take our work to a new level,” she said.

The Gender Strategy is closely aligned with the Bank’s overarching 2013-2022 Strategy, ‘At the centre of Africa’s transformation’, and its core objective of promoting inclusive growth which will broaden the opportunities for both women and men.

According to AfDB, promoting gender equality sits alongside two other ‘areas of special emphasis’ in its strategy: supporting fragile states, and supporting agriculture and food security.  The Gender Strategy itself, therefore, sets out how it will engage in these two areas.

It is built around three mutually reinforcing pillars which were identified as being key to addressing the underlying causes of gender inequalities in Africa.

“These are: strengthening women’s legal and property rights; promoting women’s economic empowerment; and enhancing knowledge management and capacity building on gender equality,” the AfDB said.

To date, the bank has been mainstreaming gender equality work in its five operational priorities: infrastructure development, regional integration, private sector development, governance and accountability, and skills and technology.

In July 2013, it received a US Treasury Development Impact Honors Award for a project focused on restoring social services and reducing gender-based violence in post-conflict Côte d’Ivoire.

“Going forward under the new strategy, the AfDB commits itself to greater and better integration of gender equality in all its programmes,” the bank said, adding, “Much of this work will revolve around strengthening the capacity of African countries to put into practice their own commitments to gender equality.”

The strategy also stresses the bank’s need to lead by example, as it works to support its member countries in Africa to promote gender equality.  It commits to transforming the bank’s own organisational culture regarding gender equality, in its staffing and in its working culture.  It proposes the strengthening of the bank’s gender expertise in its field operations, and the appointment of ‘champions’ of the cause of gender equality, inside and outside the bank.

In Ms. Fraser-Moleketi’s words: “We must make gender the business of all staff at the bank. We want to create a bank that lives and breathes gender equality, and this strategy gives us the vision — and the nuts and bolts — of how we will do it.  And that work must and will be measurable, in line with bank-wide processes of monitoring and evaluation.”

“It is a stark fact that half of Africa’s people bear considerably more than half of its problems,” said Donald Kaberuka, President of the AfDB Group.

“Real growth has to be for women as much as for men, for younger people as for older, for rural communities as much as urban.  And we know that economic growth alone does not suffice to create gender equality: it requires political and practical will to drive the gender agenda forward,” he added.

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