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EBRD helps private sector address gender-based violence

EBRD helps private sector address gender-based violence

 April 29, 2021

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and UK development finance institution CDC Group (CDC) have created practical guidance to support industry in efforts to address gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH).

In addition to the publication, Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Harassment – Emerging Good Practice for the Private Sector, further guidance and good practice has been made available for addressing gender-based violence and harassment in a number of specific sectors including: Manufacturing; Construction; Education; Public Transport; Hotels, Catering and Tourism; Agribusiness

A serious issue that needs to be addressed

EBRD reports that this form of violence and harassment is a systemic and serious global issue that affects individuals in their workplaces, communities and homes. Although it can affect anyone, it disproportionately affects women and girls. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence.

In recent years, EBRD continues, private sector companies and investors have increasingly recognised gender-based violence and harassment as a serious issue that needs to be addressed. EBRD understands that adequate action can help prevent this issue or mitigate the adverse impacts on survivors and on companies and investors.

Offering practical tools and guidance 

The publication, Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Harassment – Emerging Good Practice for the Private Sector, responds to the need raised by companies and investors for practical tools and guidance on emerging best practices to prevent and respond to the risk of violence and harassment.

“The global estimates of GBVH are staggering, as are the emotional and psychological impacts felt by those affected,” says Mary Porter Peschka, Director, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Advice and Solutions at IFC. “GBVH risks are present in every country and every sector. The new publication [...] fills a critical information gap expressed by companies and investors – the need for practical steps and tools to help identify GBVH risks, implement prevention strategies and take early action.”

Increase during public health emergencies

EBRD also notes that gendered violence and harassment, in particular domestic violence, increase during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, further compounding the adverse impacts on employees’ wellbeing, health and safety, and productivity. The Bank cites The United Nations Population Fund impact assessments that estimates an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence were likely to be perpetrated in the first six months alone of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“CDC recognises the impact of GBVH and the urgency of addressing a significant and systemic challenge in our markets. This urgency has increased in the wake of Covid-19 as the pandemic has increased the vulnerability of many workers and we know that this also increases risks of GBVH in the workplace and supply chains,” adds Mark Eckstein, ESG Director at CDC Group.  

Improving productivity and performance

For companies and investors, violence and harassment can pose a range of risks, including litigation, loss of profits and reputational damage. Addressing the risks can have many business benefits, including improved productivity and performance, reduced potential for accidents, improved access to skills and talent, and better stakeholder relations.

Alistair Clark, EBRD Managing Director, Environment and Social Sustainability, says: “This publication is an important milestone towards delivering on our commitment to prevent GBVH and to support our clients with the development and implementation of policies and mechanisms that address related risks.”

“This work will also contribute to aligning our clients’ operations with the provisions of the International Labour Organization’s Convention No. 190 on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work,” he adds.

Work for a company that is making a positive social impact

This is just one of the ways the EBRD is making a difference in wider communities, particularly for women and girls. For example, the Bank's Women in Business initiative offers finance and advice for female entrepreneurs in its countries of operation.

Search jobs at the EBRD and make a difference through your career.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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