Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Press Release

New Survey Reveals Key Data Gaps in Measuring Development Banks' Commitment to Gender Equity

September 10, 2020
Contact: Eva Grant Center for Global Development +1.202.416.4027

Development banks are largely committed to gender equity, but have room for growth.

WASHINGTON, DC – Development finance institutions are working to integrate gender equity into their development finance to the private sector, but most don’t set targets or publish data to track their progress, a new survey from CGD’s Nancy Lee, Megan O’Donnell, and Kelsey Ross finds.

The Gender Equity in Development Finance survey examines the degree to which DFIs prioritize a focus on gender equity and women’s empowerment, both in their external investments and internal diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The survey findings are based on data provided by 16 DFIs, including a broad range of multilateral and bilateral institutions of diverse sizes, ages, and geographic areas of operations.

Both the internal and external survey sections confirmed DFIs are showing a strong commitment to gender equality, both inside and outside their organizations, but that there is significant room for progress. The researchers found that:

  • Nearly all (14/16) DFIs have an external gender strategy, but half (8/16) do not set targets for measuring their implementation.
  • 14/16 also have a dedicated gender lead and team, but most (10/16) do not publish gender-disaggregated results data.
  • On the internal level, most seek more gender balance in recruitment and promotions, but most DFIs do not require training for staff on gender lens investing (13/16) and unconscious bias (11/14).
  • Most (12/14) DFIs measure gender pay gaps within their institutions, but only 3/14 publish that data.
  • On average, just 31 percent of board members and 33 percent of DFI senior managers are women.

“DFIs are focusing more on gender in their internal and external processes, but most aren't publishing the data or setting the targets to measure whether that's making a difference in results,” co-author Nancy Lee, senior policy fellow at CGD and former general manager (CEO) of the Multilateral Investment Fund (now the IDB Lab) at the Inter-American Development Bank, says. “Measurable, public goals are key to making development finance more equitable.”

“Development finance is going to be key to help build back post-pandemic, and women are already being disproportionately affected,” said co-author Megan O’Donnell, the assistant director of CGD’s gender program and a senior policy analyst. “We commend the steps that have been taken at DFIs already – and note that more must be done to ensure that early commitments by DFIs translate into concrete benefits for women.”


Related Experts

Photo of Megan O'Donnell (2019 version)
Assistant Director, Gender Program and Policy Fellow
Photo of Nancy Lee
Senior Policy Fellow