Gender Equality and Macroeconomics

briefing-illustrationThe Gender Equality and Macroeconomics (GEM) project is an initiative of the Bretton Woods Project (BWP) and the Gender and Development Network (GADN), aimed at challenging the ways in which macro policies currently promoted by international financial institutions (IFIs) undermine gender equality in developing countries. To change this, the project, initiated in 2015, examines the implications of current macro policy approaches to gender, with a special focus on the role played by the IMF, and identify changes needed to achieve macro policies that enhance rather than hinder gender equality.



BWP and GADN have and will continue to organise several events for the GEM project. We will continue to share those here that have minutes or recordings that are publicly available.


These articles and blogs discuss some of the latest gender developments at the World Bank and IMF regarding gender equality.

For all BWP’s articles relating to gender equality, please find our dedicted page here.

Background to the GEM Project


Over the past 35 years evidence has been accumulating on the importance of macroeconomic policy to gender questions in industrialised and developing countries. We know about the positive correlation between economic growth, income equality and female labour force participation, as well as the negative relationship between economic growth and the gender wage gap. There is no shortage of evidence on the causes of these economic inequalities, including gender credit gaps, the relationship between economic empowerment and gender-based violence as well as to sexual and reproductive health rights, gender dimensions of tax policies, the disproportionate gendered impacts of austerity and the growing recognition of the significance of unpaid care and housework to economic growth.

This evidence has ‘trickled-up’ into the rhetoric of even the most powerful institutions involved in shaping macro policy. The IMF has produced recent work arguing there is “ample evidence” that unlocking women’s full labour market potential can entail significant macro-economic gains, citing GDP per capita losses attributable to gender gaps in the labour market as high as 27 per cent in certain regions. However, little evidence suggests that the IMF and other institutions have allowed the acknowledgement of gender as a ‘macro-critical’ issue to change their policies affecting outcomes for women and girls in developing countries.

Through this project, BWP and GADN will seek to build pressure for macro policy change by raising the visibility of this issue, supporting civil society advocates, holding the IFIs to public account and actively engaging with the institutions, especially insider champions capable of moving their institutions forward. The project confronts the role played by IFIs as key shapers and implementers of orthodox macro policies which have damaged the economic prospects of women and girls for decades. By challenging and engaging senior IFI officials with the evidence and momentum gained by the project, we aim to ensure macro policies promoted by the IFIs contribute to rather than undermine the achievement of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.