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International Women's Day
Photo: Carol Mitchell | Flickr Creative Commons
As the backbone of development, infrastructure provides vital support for the twin goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Considering the different needs, roles, and responsibilities of men and women in infrastructure design makes the achievement of these goals more sustainable.
Women and men face constraints both as beneficiaries and producers of infrastructure services. For example, there can be inequitable access to roads, financing for electricity connections, or clean water. There are also inequities in the infrastructure business value chain: Do utilities have a balance of women and men on technical and leadership teams? Is there diversity on boards, with regulators or policy makers? Are women-owned firms in supply chains?
From my corner of the World Bank, the development objective of promoting gender equality can seem vague or unrelated to what we do. We can give three cheers for our colleagues who focus on gender issues for successfully developing and releasing the World Bank’s new Gender Equality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth Strategy -- and then return to our work of closing the infrastructure financing gap and helping governments prioritize their infrastructure projects.
But are there areas in our own work on public-private partnerships (PPPs) where we can and should evaluate the role gender plays? Based on the quantity of literature my colleagues at the PPP Infrastructure Resource Center (PPIRC) have amassed in version 1.0 of their impact of PPPs on gender inclusion page of their website, the answer is yes.
During the last few months, I have brainstormed with my team at the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility to examine how gender considerations overlap with the technical assistance we facilitate. I have also recently joined the “gender leads” group of the World Bank on behalf of the PPP Group. As I have become more aware of the challenges women face around the world, I see these issues more and more through a PPP lens.
So in honor of International Women’s Day, which pushes us to “step it up for gender equality,” I’ve identified five areas that point toward ways PPPs can be part of the solution:
Investment in infrastructure services in emerging economies is key to tackling extreme poverty and enhancing shared prosperity. Achieving gender equality is equally important if we want to reach these goals and maintain social and economic milestones, long-term, as outlined in the World Bank Group Gender Strategy (FY16 – 23): Gender Equality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are an important tool governments can use to improve access to basic infrastructure services. A new resource on the World Bank Group’s Public-Private Partnership in Infrastructure Resource Center (PPPIRC) website—a comprehensive section on gender and PPPs—compiles guidance on how PPPs and infrastructure projects can be structured to enhance gender inclusion and ensure equal benefits and economic opportunities for women and men.