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Work for the EBRD and advance women’s economic empowerment

 November 25, 2021

Boosting equalty of opportunity and advancing women’s economic empowerment, the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved new strategies for the promotion of gender equality and equality of opportunity.

EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “These strategies reflect one of the Bank’s key strategic priorities for the next four years and highlight our commitment to promoting gender equality and equality of opportunity across our regions. We have an ambitious goal of scaling up our gender-focused investments, integrating gender-equality components into at least 40 per cent of EBRD annual investments and to scaling up our inclusive projects to a quarter of the our annual investments by the end of 2025.”

Addressing the impacts of mega trends 

Inequalitiy of opportunity remains a key challenge that affects advanced and transition economies alike. However, people in the EBRD regions face particular barriers due to weaker social safety nets, making individuals’ livelihoods more vulnerable to shocks.

The new strategies aim to address the impacts of mega trends such as climate change and digitalisation on gender equality, in order to support a just and fair transition for all. The strategies also focus on some of the deep-rooted barriers to women’s full participation in the economy and public life, including the lack of affordable care and the persistent risk of gender-based violence and harassment. The EBRD will work on addressing the challenges, promoting women’s participation in the public and private sectors of the economies where the Bank operates. The approach is in line with the EBRD’s Strategic and Capital Framework for 2021-25. The Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality 2021-25 pledges to increase women’s economic empowerment and equality of opportunity through investments and policies, including supporting women’s participation in policy and corporate decision making, tackling gender-based violence and harrassment and promoting the care economy.

Steering investment and policy engagements in key areas

The approach will steer the Bank’s investments and policy engagements in three key areas:

  • Access to finance and support for entrepreneurship to build inclusive and gender-responsive financial systems and business environments
  • Access to skills, employment and sustainable livelihoods to promote gender equality in the corporate and small-business sectors as well as in public service providers, focusing on strengthening women’s employment in technical jobs as well as in meaningful leadership positions and equipping them with skills for the future
  • Access to creating inclusive and gender-responsive services and public goods to shape women’s ability to participate fully in economic and public life.

Introducing an approach to tackling inequalities 

The Equality of Opportunity Strategy 2021-25, launched in parallel, introduces an approach to tackling inequalities as they arise throughout a person’s life due to issues such as climate change, digitalisation, urbanisation and regional decline, as well as sudden shocks such as the Covid-19 crisis. The aim is to strengthen the resilience of human capital through investments and policy engagement, enabling communities, companies and countries to harness the opportunities that result from these trends and to counteract the challenges. Specifially, the strategy introduces an operational response focused on building inclusive and gender-responsive financial systems and business environments and creating inclusive and gender-responsive services and public goods. This includes supporting people and communities who are left with stranded skills, to safeguard their livelihoods through reskilling and access to green or digital jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Creating more equal societies and inclusive growth

Together, the two strategies will contribute towards the creation of more equal societies and inclusive growth across the EBRD regions, which is one of the pillars of the Bank’s current mid-term strategy.

To date, the EBRD has invested more than €10.5 billion in projects with inclusive and gender-equality measures, supporting over 70,000 women entrepreneurs, opening up access to skills and jobs for more than 75,000 young people, women, people with disabilities, refugees and others and improving access to economic opportunity for more than 7.5 million people across the EBRD regions through better access to services and infrastructure.

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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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