Gender policy

INTRODUCTION

1 This policy reaffirms the Bank’s commitment to promoting gender mainstreaming as a means of fostering poverty reduction, economic development and equality between women and men in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) zone. It focuses primarily on gender equality1 as a development objective, rather than on women as a target group. Achieving this objective requires the Bank to examine all its policies, programs and projects to identify the impact they have and could have on women and men.

2. The Bank’s gender policy is based on the observation that Africa in general, and the UEMOA zone in particular, has pronounced and specific gender traits that directly influence its economic and social development. It takes into account the international agenda, which aims to achieve a full and equal partnership between women and men, a sine qua non for meeting the challenges facing the UEMOA.

3. From this broader perspective, the question of how to translate gender issues into development policies and interventions, and in particular how to most effectively and equitably target financial and other resources to increase women’s productivity and empowerment, is at the heart of the development policies and actions undertaken by the Bank. It was suggested that targeting women alone is not enough, and that development policies and plans should take into account the needs of both women and men at the same time.

4. Gender has become a development intervention issue. First and foremost, disparities persist between women and men, despite significant improvements in the absolute status of women and gender equality in most West African countries. Most women enjoy fewer social, economic and legal rights than men, and lack access to development resources, benefits and decision-making at all levels of society. Secondly, disparities between women and men have a negative impact on development. Experience has shown that gender discrimination leads to lower economic growth, more poverty, weaker governance and lower living standards. On the other hand, improving women’s educational capabilities leads to lower infant mortality, improved nutritional status and a marked influence on poverty reduction. Policies must therefore focus on

Equality means the enjoyment of human rights by women and men. This is a universal principle, reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration adopted by 171 States at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. This principle has economic, legal and political aspects, such as equal opportunities to participate in decision-making on the economic and political fronts; equal access to basic services, including education and health; equal protection before the law; the elimination of gender discrimination and violence against women; equal pay for equal work; and equal rights in all areas of life, both public and private.

We need to focus equally on the development needs of both women and men, and transform the structures and processes that continue to fuel inequality.

5. The present policy also reflects the principles for the elimination of discrimination against women, a global consensus achieved through several world conferences, in particular those of Dakar and Beijing, as well as through numerous research studies and viewpoints from the sub-region. It also complies with the guidelines on gender equality and women’s empowerment in development cooperation drawn up by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

6. The gender policy is divided into four chapters. The first sets out the international, African and regional context, as well as the rationale for taking gender into account in development. Obstacles to the implementation of gender equality measures in the WAEMU are presented in the second chapter. The foundations of the policy, BOAD’s guiding principles and the priorities of its gender policy are presented in chapter 3. Chapter 4 proposes strategies for implementing the Bank’s gender policy.

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