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The EBRD and gender equality

The EBRD’s Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality

Recognising that gender equality is central to countries’ transition towards becoming well-functioning, sustainable market economies, the Bank seeks to increase women’s economic empowerment and equality of opportunities in its countries of operation. The EBRD’s Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality (SPGE) 2021-2025 builds on the lessons learnt under the previous SPGE, with a focus on consolidating and strengthening gender-responsive results while taking into consideration the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on women’s access to economic opportunities. The SPGE 2021-2025 continues to strengthen the EBRD’s gender-responsive investment culture across sectors and countries of operations. It does this by increasing support for the promotion of equality of opportunity for women, by mainstreaming gender considerations in the Bank’s projects and policy priorities. As such, the SPGE (2021-2025) underpins and informs, in a cross-cutting fashion, other Bank strategies and policies, including country, sector and thematic strategies.

The SPGE steers Bank investments and policy engagements based on three key focus areas:

  • The Access to Finance and Entrepreneurship priority has the overall goal of building inclusive and gender-responsive financial systems and business environments. Under this focus area, FI investments are supported to focus on gender equality through increasing women’s access to equal economic opportunities as business leaders, as entrepreneurs, and as consumers of finance.
  • The Access to Skills, Employment and Livelihoods focus area has the overall goal to support investments to better promote skills, employment and sustainable livelihoods. This focus area supports investments to promote gender equality in the corporate and SME sector as well as in public service providers and focuses on strengthening women’s employment in technical jobs as well as in meaningful leadership positions and equipping them with skills for the future.
  • The Access to Services and Public Goods priority has the overall goal to create inclusive and gender-responsive services and public goods. This focus area promotes gender equality in the infrastructure sector as a source of economic opportunities for women further supported by green, economic and institutional effectiveness, and participatory infrastructure design and delivery that contributes to long term impact.

The three above priority strategic directions each further support key areas for EBRD’s expanded gender engagement, by applying four thematic lenses which were selected through consultation sessions with internal and external stakeholders complemented by gender and regional megatrends analysis. Thematic lenses on the Green Economy and the Digital Economy reflect new opportunities for greater EBRD impact on gender equality arising under the strategic cross-cutting themes for the Bank as outlined in the Strategic and Capital Framework (SCF) 2021-2025. Moreover, lenses on the Care Economy, as well as Voice, Agency and Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH) explicitly amplify the Bank’s work on existing and persistent constraints to gender equality across the EBRD region.

Thematic Lenses

  • The transition to the green economy requires joint action from governments, intergovernmental organisations and the private sector, as well as widespread transformation across all societies. Persistent gender inequalities hinder the capacity of women, communities and economies to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
  • The incorporation of digital technology across all areas of life is generating a digital economy built around online economic activities. Ensuring that women benefit from the digital economy can improve their economic and social outcomes, while guaranteeing their participation in STEM subjects is key for sustainable development.
  • The care economy refers to all forms of paid and unpaid care provided within a society, including childcare, early childhood education, disability and long-term care, elderly care and other types of care. In a broader sense, it also captures the domestic provisioning of food, clothing and shelter.
  • Gender equality requires that institutions, laws, policies and social norms allow women to access and benefit from opportunities on the same footing as men. Across economies and sectors, women continue to face constraints related to high levels of gender-based violence, biased laws and norms that prevent them from owning property, working, and making decisions about their lives.

The EBRD’s added value lies in its ability to leverage the power of the private sector to increase women’s economic empowerment and equality of opportunity. To do so, the Bank builds on its available set of impact pathways - investments, technical cooperation and policy dialogue. To maximise the potential of these instruments, the SPGE 2021-2025 gives special attention to the enablers of equality in access to economic opportunities for women and to building the systems and processes to strengthen Bank-wide implementation of gender mainstreaming. Its unique value proposition means that the EBRD’s work on women’s economic empowerment necessarily cannot capture all aspects of gender equality. Against this backdrop, the SPGE 2021-2025 seeks to build partnerships with other development actors and civil society, to create synergies and achieve systemic impact in the countries where the EBRD works.


Barbara Rambousek

EBRD Gender Team
One Exchange Square
London UK
Tel: +44 20 7338 6000