On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the World Bank announced a new procurement related mechanism to potentially disqualify contractors for failing to comply with gender-based violence (GBV)-related obligations. BIC’s Executive Director Elana Berger spoke to Devex about the policy, noting that it represents a significant step forward in the Bank’s recognition of GBV with a focus on violations of policy rather than on incidents of GBV. The policy, which only applies to high risk investment lending projects, is the first to disqualify contractors for issues related to social or environmental performance at any of the multilateral development banks, sparking hopes that it could be expanded or translated to other social or environmental issues. However, Berger expressed concerns about the policy disincentivizing reporting or discouraging the Bank from categorizing projects as high risk. For example, the Uganda Transport Sector Development project, which in part inspired this response, was not classified as high risk, underscoring the possibility that projects could slip through the cracks. Berger also highlighted concerns that the new system isn’t designed to be responsive to community and civil society input. The Bank must find ways to center communities and local CSOs who discover these issues in order to respond effectively to project harms. You can read more about the new policy and BIC’s comments in the article.
Berger will discuss the critical role played by communities and civil society in pushing the Bank to address the issue of GBV in a virtual discussion, “Responding to Project Gender-Based Violence Complaints Through an Independent Accountability Mechanism,” on Wednesday, December 9 from 9:00-11:00am EST. The event will be streamed live on YouTube.