In the EBRD regions – as well as in many other parts of the world – women still face numerous difficulties in accessing the same economic opportunities as men. From labour practices that give women lower pay to legal and cultural barriers restricting their access to jobs, finance and property ownership, there are many ways in which economic systems continue to favour men over women.
The EBRD recognises gender equality as a key driver for sustainable transition and inclusive growth across its regions and believes that equality of economic opportunity for women and men is a key element of a modern, well-functioning market economy and essential for sustainable growth.
The economic transition has changed the nature of men’s and women’s participation in the economies of the countries where the EBRD works. Both have generally experienced greater job insecurity, reduction of state employment and the need for new skills and ways of generating income.
Women, however, have experienced even higher unemployment rates than men and lower wage levels. Significant differences between men’s and women’s work by sector, occupation and type, (vertical and horizontal gender segregation) have also emerged.
The EBRD promotes gender equality through its transition approach as well as through the mainstreaming of gender equality measures across its operations.
The Equality of Opportunity Strategy recognises the importance of targeted transition impact to promote gender equality in line with the Bank’s Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality, and mainstreams gender across EoO activities at project and policy levels.
The Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality seeks to create equal economic opportunities for women by integrating measures to enhance gender equality across the EBRD’s operations and policy engagements (gender ‘mainstreaming’), including through key enablers such as reducing GBVH risks and promoting the care economy.
Together, both strategies contribute towards the creation of more equal societies and inclusive growth across the EBRD region.
They are supported by the Bank’s Environmental and Social Policy which takes into consideration the environmental and social impacts and risks of the Bank’s projects, and addresses and mitigates adverse impacts on human capital, to ensure that the Bank’s projects do not create harm and/or exacerbate existing gender and inclusion challenges.
Examples of EBRD gender inclusion projects include: investments that incentivise and support clients to improve their corporate standards and practices to enable more women to successfully compete for jobs, training and promotion into management roles; the EBRD flagship Women in Business Programme which supports women-led SMEs to access finance, know-how and advice, and infrastructure projects that promote gender-sensitive design and provision of services, such as transport, water, solid waste and/or district heating.
On a policy level, the EBRD seeks to address key barriers for women to access finance through a focus on the legal barriers and related cultural norms that make it harder for women to provide collateral. We also engage with governments in parts of Central Asia to lift existing restrictions on women to access certain types of occupations (such as operating heavy machinery or driving HGVs).