Hosted by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, an overflow crowd was present for the panel which heard presentations from Elaine Zuckerman of Gender Action, Marcia Greenberg of Cornell University, Sanam Anderlini of Women Waging Peace and Ian Bannon, Manager of the Bank’s conflict prevention and reconstruction unit.
The critique of the World Bank’s work centred on the failure to implement the gender policy on the ground. Zuckerman called for a rights-based approach to ensure that women’s rights were central to the reconstruction process.
Bannon opened by agreeing with the substance of the criticism but not the tactics to resolve the problems. Advocating a rights-based approach “boxes out the World Bank.” Economists, he said, need the argument made in terms of development effectiveness. “Even managers who are not economists have been brainwashed by economists.” Bannon believes that current efforts at disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation fail to capture women. The involvement of women is still seen as an externally-imposed condition. He closed by challenging activists to look at the record of other institutions: “some bilateral agencies, which shall remain unnamed, say that in post-conflict reconstruction, gender can wait for the resolution of more pressing issues.”