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EBRD develops equality strategies and invites public comment

EBRD develops equality strategies and invites public comment

 August 10, 2021

EBRD has developed proposed institutional and operational policies and strategies for its countries of operations and sectors in which it invests.

This includes a Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2021-25 and an Equality of Opportunity Strategy 2021-25.

EBRD's Equality of Opportunity strategy has found that socioeconomic background still explains up to 75% of inequality of opportunity in education in EBRD economies.

Both the Equality of Opportunity strategy and Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality also explore the topic of the future of work, whether it's for all or for some, and asks the question - what does a digitizing economy mean for human capital and gender equality?

The Bank, as well as leaders such as Director for Gender and Economic Inclusion Barbara Rambousek, invites public input into these strategies.

Increasing women's economic empowerment

Recognising that gender equality is central to countries’ transition towards becoming well-functioning, sustainable market economies, the Bank seeks to increase women’s economic empowerment and equality of opportunities in its COOs. 

The Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality builds on the lessons learnt under the previous Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality, with a focus on consolidating and strengthening gender-responsive results while taking into consideration the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on women’s access to economic opportunities.

The Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality aims to continue to strengthen the EBRD’s gender-responsive investment culture across sectors and countries of operations. It will do this by increasing support for the promotion of equality of opportunity for women, by mainstreaming gender considerations in the Bank’s projects and policy priorities.

Focusing on three key areas

Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality will steer Bank investments and policy engagements based on three key focus areas:

  • The Access to Finance and Entrepreneurship priority will have the overall goal of building inclusive and gender-responsive financial systems and business environments. Under this focus area, FI investments will be supported to focus on gender equality through increasing women’s access to equal economic opportunities as business leaders, as entrepreneurs, and as consumers of finance.
  • The Access to Skills, Employment and Livelihoods focus area will have the overall goal to support investments to better promote skills, employment and sustainable livelihoods. This focus area will support investments to promote gender equality in the corporate and SME sector as well as in public service providers focuses on strengthening women’s employment in technical jobs as well as in meaningful leadership positions and equipping them with skills for the future.
  • The Access to Services and Public Goods priority has the overall goal to create inclusive and gender-responsive services and public goods. This focus area will promote gender equality in the infrastructure sector as a source of economic opportunities for women further supported by green, economic and institutional effectiveness, and participatory infrastructure design and delivery that contributes to long term impact.

Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality further scales up and strengthens the EBRD’s gender-responsive investment culture across sectors and countries of operations, with an overall ambition of 40% of annual EBRD operations integrating gender equality measures by the end of 2025.

Promoting the development of sustainable and inclusive economies


An unequal distribution of economic opportunities in a country – when circumstances beyond an individuals’ control constrain their access to economic opportunities throughout life – has a significant detrimental impact on the growth potential of economies as well as their social cohesion and, ultimately, political stability. 

Broad access to economic opportunity is integral to sustainable market development. When individuals are unable to make the best use of their skills and talents because they were born in a remote and by climate change affected area, or because of their disadvantaged background or their gender, market outcomes are negatively affected.

However, if people are given a chance to succeed, they are more likely to pursue education, participate in the workforce and invest or engage in activities that lead to economic growth and prosperity.

In order to promote the development of sustainable and inclusive economies that create opportunities for all, the EBRD’s Equality of Opportunity Strategy builds on, strengthens but also substantially broadens the Bank’s existing distinct private sector focused approach to economic inclusion. It does so by applying the lessons learned from the implementation of the Economic Inclusion Strategy (2017-2021), and by analysing how megatrends such as climate change or digitalisation, and shocks including Covid or fragility, are impacting on people’s equality of opportunity in the EBRD region.

Tackling the resulting inequalities

The resulting Equality of Opportunity Strategy is designed based on the recognition that characteristics that lead to inequality of opportunity can change throughout a person’s life – shaped by external events such as long term stressors and shocks, as well as by changing social norms, biases and legal frameworks. 

These characteristics overlap and intersect across factors such as gender, place of birth or residence, age, disability, skills types and levels, displacement, sexual orientation and identity, as well as life events triggered by other external factors. Tackling the resulting inequalities therefore requires a broader focus on developing and preserving human capital at an individual, company and market level.

The Equality of Opportunity Strategy therefore considers the specific challenges and potential opportunities in relation to a wider range of target groups with intersecting characteristics – including women, youth, aging populations, people with disabilities, people who see their skills ‘stranded’ due to changes in the labour market or those whose livelihoods depend on declining sectors or regions, migrants and refugees, LGBTI people or ethnic and other minority groups.

Furthering investments and policy engagement

The vision of the Equality of Opportunity Strategy is to significantly expand the Bank’s approach to and impact on promoting equality of opportunities through investments and policy engagement, to strengthen human capital development and resilience across the EBRD region and enable all parts of society to contribute to and benefit from sustainable growth.

Specifically, the Equality of Opportunity Strategy proposes to introduce:

  • An enhanced approach to equality of opportunity as it arises throughout a person’s life, reflecting megatrends such as climate change, digitalisation and the future of work, regional disparities, urbanisation, as well as large-scale shocks such as the Covid crisis. In this context, the new strategy moves beyond the definition of narrow target groups towards an approach that is more flexible and in line with the specific realities and needs of people, companies and policy partners across the EBRD region.
  • An operational response along three expanded focus areas of (i) broadening skills, jobs and sustainable livelihoods; (ii) building inclusive and gender-responsive financial systems and business environments; and (iii) creating inclusive and gender-responsive services and public goods. This opens up new areas for the EBRD’s investments, that more closely reflect the specific challenges that its clients and policy partners face, thereby achieving more targeted and relevant impact.
  • A stronger emphasis on systemic impact, ranging from the individual, to the way a company operates, to the market/institutional level.

Forge a rewarding career with the EBRD

The EBRD looks to recruit people passionate about the Bank's values and work. Whether you are a banker, analyst, economist, IT specialist or researcher, there are a number of opportunities to support the EBRD in its operations from client relations to communications.

Search jobs at the Bank.


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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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