Open civil society letter on WBG gender strategy update

20 December 2022 | Letters

20th December 2022

Submitted via email


Hana Brixi, Global Director for Gender, World Bank Group

Copy to: 

World Bank Group Executive Directors


Open Letter to World Bank Group (WBG) Global Director for Gender, Hana Brixi, and WBG Executive Directors


On behalf of the undersigned civil society organisations, we write to request an open and robust public consultation on the World Bank’s forthcoming Gender Strategy update as the current FY16-23 strategy comes to an end. 

We understand that Hana Brixi, the World Bank’s Global Director for Gender, will lead the process of developing the next strategy, alongside a team of World Bank staff. We appreciate your openness to date with respect to this process and for meeting with some of the below signatories during the recent Annual Meetings. Based on that meeting, we understand that the consultation process will run for six months between January and June 2023. For many decades, civil society organisations, trade unions, international organisations, and especially feminist women’s rights organisations from across the world have provided critical feedback, research, and leadership on gender in development. This has involved submitting joint positions on the Bank’s gender work, engaging in consultation processes, and providing feedback and robust technical proposals to the Bank. We and many in civil society continue to have serious concerns about the Bank’s approach to gender, and very much hope that our critique contributes to the next gender strategy. While we were assured that 2022 would be the year of listening, from what we have seen, it seems that the #AccelerateEquality initiative has so far consisted mostly of World Bank-run webinars with little opportunity for critical reflection and input, particularly from those who will be most impacted by the implementation of the strategy.

We therefore call upon you to ensure that the World Bank’s Gender Strategy team will conduct a consultation process that is open, meaningful, and thorough. To engage meaningfully and prepare inputs and suggestions that tie into the actual strategy effectively, it is crucial that civil society is given the opportunity to comment on the upcoming concept note including the framework and pillars of the strategy, and later the full draft(s) of the strategy. The team should ensure that a process is put in place for incorporating civil society recommendations. Moreover, a robust consultation process should entail transparent feedback on how and why comments and suggestions from civil society were taken on or not. It is not just the process, but also the outcome of the process as manifested in the final document that will determine if this consultation has been successful.

Consultation processes on key past processes like IDA20 and the DPF Retrospective were insufficient and tokenistic, often asking for feedback when reports were already finalised. Given the decision to keep this as an “update” to the existing strategy rather than a full-fledged review, we also have serious concerns that the outcomes of this update could be predetermined with little space to critically reflect on the Bank’s wider gendered impacts.

We are aware of and welcome the communication recently sent out calling for women’s rights organisations and women’s human rights defenders to engage in the consultation process. While we appreciate the meeting Hana Brixi had with some of the signatories at the Annual Meetings, it is key that the consultation prioritises southern voices, including civil society groups, women’s rights and gender justice organisations, and communities that lack the means to travel to Washington DC and other locations. We emphasise, particularly due to shrinking or closed civic space in many contexts globally, it is even more important that the World Bank assumes its responsibility to ensure that civil society actors of all forms can engage in and give input to the process, especially southern voices. This should also include regionally specific opportunities for consultation, an openness to consider alternative feminist economic theories and proposals that offer challenges to the existing macroeconomic framework of the World Bank, which we know has and can cause harm to women and girls.


Sincerely, the undersigned organisations: 

  1. The Bretton Woods Project
  2. Wemos
  3. Eastern Africa National Network of AIDS and Health Services Organization (EANNASO)
  4. VSO Netherlands
  5. Arab Watch Coalition
  6. Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
  7. The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation
  8. The African Women Communications and Development Network (FEMNET)
  9. Halley Movement Coalition (Mauritius)
  10. Women In Development Europe+ (WIDE+)
  11. Duk
  12. Urgewald
  13. Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)
  14. We Effect
  15. Oxfam
  16. KULU-Women and Development (KULU), Denmark
  17. Articulación Salvadoreña de sociedad civil para la Incidencia en las Instituciones Financieras Internacionales (ASIFI)
  18. AMATE El Salvador
  19. Bank Information Center (BIC)
  20. Action Contre la Faim – France (ACF – France)
  21. Cordaid
  22. Gender Equality in Tourism
  23. Liliane Foundation (the Netherlands)
  24. Recourse
  25. Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS)
  26. Gender Action
  27. Friends of the Earth US
  28. WeProsper
  29. Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Instituete- SEATINI Uganda
  30. Christian Aid
  31. CARE International
  32. Financial Transparency Coalition
  33. International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
  34. Gender and Development Network
  35. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
  36. ActionAid International
  37. World Economy, Ecology and Development (WEED)
  38. TaxEd Alliance
  39. Ethiopian Economics Association
  40. Alliance for Community Transformation Uganda
  41. The Border Hub
  42. The Institute for Economic Justice
  43. University of Nairobi WEE Hub
  44. dRPC
  45. Plangsat Bitrus Dayil
  46. LVCT Health, Kenya
  47. Haitian Women’s Collective
  48. Rural Community Development Society (RCDS)
  49. Her Rights (Pakistan)
  50. Both ENDS, Netherlands
  51. Eurodad
  52. IPA
  53. Village Entreprise