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Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

The IDB recognizes that promoting gender equality is pivotal to its goal of accelerating the process of economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). In November 2010 the IDB approved a new Operational Policy on Gender Equality in Development that will improve the Bank’s ability to support its member countries’ commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment by applying a gender perspective systematically across its operations. The gender policy commits the Bank to undertake both proactive actions (gender mainstreaming and direct investment) and preventive actions (gender safeguards).

  • Gender mainstreaming: The IDB seeks to integrate gender issues across development sectors and throughout the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its operations. For instance, the IDB is developing guidelines to incorporate gender into rural water and sanitation projects where women are primary beneficiaries because of their critical roles in the management of household and community water resources.
  • Direct investment: The IDB also invests directly in strategic areas for gender equality and the women’s empowerment through knowledge and capacity building products such as the GEPPAL database on women’s political participation and projects such as the $10 million loan to Mibanco in Peru, which seeks to expand access to financial services for women micro-entrepreneurs.
  • Gender safeguards: The Bank will review its financial operations to identify and address adverse impacts and the risk of gender-based exclusion, include women and men in consultation processes, and comply with applicable legislation relating to equality between men and women.

In 2009 the IDB launched a Gender and Diversity Fund, committing $10 million in grant resources and $6 million in contributions from donors to support gender and diversity mainstreaming in Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Why Focus on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment?

All governments of the region have ratified the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the IDB work in this area helps its member countries live up to their CEDAW commitments. Gender equality contributes to poverty reduction, results in higher levels of human capital for future generations, and improves the development effectiveness of public investments. Studies from the LAC region have shown that increasing female labor force participation can lead to per capita income growth and poverty reduction. Additionally, experiences with conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Brazil, Mexico, and other countries in the region have shown that women spend a higher percentage of their income on education, health, and nutrition for the household, decreasing the inter-generational transmission of poverty.

Gender Equality by the numbers


Women’s political participation has increased: the number of women elected to parliaments in the region increased from an average of 5% in 1990 to 20% in 2010.

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Projects Highlights


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