Gender Action: IFI’s Fail to Adequately Address Gender Based Violence in Post-Quake Investments

March 08, 2012

To mark International Women’s Day, HRRW is highlighting recent research concerning issues relating to women’s rights in Haiti.

Gender Action released a report this week analyzing the extent to which the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) address gender-based violence (GBV) in their post-earthquake loans. Gender Action applies their Essential Gender Analysis Checklist to five different projects implemented by the two international financial institutions. The report finds that:

[N]either the World Bank nor the IDB adequately address GBV within other critical post-earthquake investments. Sadly, this lack of attention to GBV is hardly surprising: according to Interaction, an alliance of international non-governmental organizations, “the humanitarian community continues to see women’s protection as a second-tier concern in crises, particularly natural disasters, and is slow to address GBV at the onset of an emergency” (Interaction, 2010). This case study underscores the urgent need for the World Bank and IDB to strengthen their own gender policies and explicitly address GBV across all sectors.

The report does salute the World Bank for a recent grant to combat GBV in Haiti, which was the result of advocacy efforts on the part of Gender Action and other groups.

The Projects

In analyzing the World Bank’s “Port-au-Prince Neighborhood Housing Reconstruction Project,” part of the government’s 16/6 project, the report finds that:

While the World Bank’s special focus on women, female-headed households and other vulnerable groups is laudable, project indicators do not measure whether these services are actually carried out.


Although the project’s housing repair and reconstruction component includes “training on gender awareness,” the World Bank neither discusses the content of this training, nor the methods used to measure the training’s impact.

In the IDB’s project to rehabilitate and expand the electricity system of Port-au-Prince, Gender Action notes that:

Neither the original loan document nor IDB statements on its supplemental funding address the need for electricity in IDP camps, which can reduce women and girls? risk of GBV (CHRGJ, 2012). (In fact, the words “women” and “gender” never once appear in the original 35-page loan proposal, nor the 26 page post-earthquake grant proposal).

Similarly, the IDB’s “Support to the Shelter Sector Response Plan,” fails to “acknowledge or address the relationship between inadequate shelter and vulnerable populations’ increased risk of GBV.” The report adds:

Although the project paper states that construction site “layouts will include special measures to prevent violence,” it does not describe these measures, nor does it target violence aimed at women and girls.

Gender Action does point to an IDB loan from 2005 as “a positive example of how IFI investments can successfully acknowledge and address gender issues.” However the project received additional funding after the earthquake and “the IDB has not published any information on whether the project’s original goals and objectives were achieved prior to the infusion of additional post-earthquake grant funding in 2010.”

In conclusion, the report outlines specific recommendations to the World Bank and IDB on how to improve their responsiveness to GBV:

–          Approach all investments from a women’s/human rights perspective
–          Methodically require equal consultation with women and men in all reconstruction and development projects
–          Ensure women’s equal involvement throughout all project cycle stages, including project design implementation and evaluation, and promote outcomes that equally benefit women and men, boys and girls
–          Leverage their influence to urge the Haitian government to implement and enforce gender equality and anti-discrimination laws, particularly against GBV and human trafficking
–          Immediately strengthen IDP camp security, shelters and services, especially for women and girls via their projects
–          Invest in Haiti’s health system in order to improve services for GBV survivors, including sexual and reproductive health services
–          Assist the Haitian government to strengthen its police force and legal system to better respond to allegations of GBV
–          Invest in projects that empower women and girls and challenge dominant gender norms that fuel GBV in Haiti

To read the entire report, click here.

UPDATE 3/14:  This post has been edited slightly for accuracy.

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