Gender equality is an integral part of the EBRD's commitment to promoting sustainable and inclusive market economies through our project and policy activities.
Despite progress, women worldwide do not fully experience equal rights, and their economic, social, leadership and development potential often remains untapped. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on women and girls around the world, including in EBRD COOs, rolling back on the hard-won achievements of past years. The effect of the crisis on men and women is extensive and differentiated and often can be traced along existing and persistent gender inequalities. Women are disproportionately affected due to their representation in sectors that were hard hit by lockdown policies, their increased likelihood to be in lower-paid, part-time, informal and precarious jobs, as well as a significant increase in time spent on care duties. The crisis risks putting gender equality and inclusion efforts on hold and even reversing the gender equality gains made in recent decades, with high costs to not only women but also businesses and economies as a whole.
The EBRD – with its strong private sector focus and its extensive experience promoting policy dialogue in the countries where we work – has a significant role to play in countering such dynamics, and instead enabling countries to leverage the contribution that greater gender equality can make to faster recovery and sustainable, long-term growth. This is recognised in the Bank’s Strategic and Capital Framework (SCF) 2021-2025, which underlines the importance of equality of opportunity in shaping transition in our countries of operations, in addition to the other two cross-cutting themes of green and digital.
Under the first Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality (SPGE) 2016-2020, the EBRD laid the foundations for EBRD’s impact on gender equality at the project and policy level. The Bank scaled-up key products such as the EBRD Women in Business Programme across over 20 countries and achieved important policy milestones, for instance, by removing legal barriers to women’s employment in Central Asia. In total, EBRD invested over EUR 7.3 billion in projects that promote gender equality between 2016 and 2020.
With the second Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality (2021-25) launched in November 2021, the Bank further scales up its activities to promote gender equality throughout its operations and introduces additional lenses to ensure that approaches reflect new and emerging challenges and tackle entrenched issues. The Strategy sets out the corresponding objectives and lenses, reflecting the Bank’s SCF priorities of climate change and digitalisation, as well as two additional cross-cutting areas that are crucial for enhancing women’s participation in the economy and public life: the provision of affordable, high-quality care and the promotion of women’s voice and agency, including the freedom from gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH). In this context, the new SPGE emphasises the importance of solid internal processes, implementation tools, knowledge creation and sharing, and continuous capacity building to enable Bank staff and clients to mainstream gender considerations into a growing number of projects.
By the end of the strategy period, the EBRD pledges to integrate gender equality components into at least 40 per cent of its annual investment operations.
Gender equality works
Gender equality in the workplace is good for business, and it needn't be difficult to achieve.