In December the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) released a report on the Bank’s social safety net (SSN) projects in relation to gender equality. SSNs aim to decrease poverty and vulnerability through financial interventions, such as cash transfers and public work programmes. The report measured and disaggregated social outcomes by gender to confirm the differences in gender response and benefit from SSNs, but found that few Bank-supported projects incorporate the impact of difference into their design.
414 projects from 2003-2013 were reviewed for the report, but only 213 were considered relevant and were therefore analysed for gender-related elements. Only two out of a total of 89 SSN cash transfer projects were found to specifically promote gender empowerment: one in Pakistan and another in Brazil. Elaine Zuckerman, of US-based NGO Gender Action commented “Although cash transfer projects such as those related to the social sectors, for example education, have obvious women’s empowerment implications, it is not surprising that only two Bank cash transfer projects made this connection. Gender Action’s analysis found that other Bank social sector projects, even for reproductive health and HIV-AIDS, often fail to consider gender roles.”