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THE World Bank will today announce its findings on the strides it has made towards gender equality and women's empowerment.
The bank's Bahar Salimova said the announcement, to be made during a conference in Pretoria today, was based on a recent assessment by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) on gender and development. The IEG, an independent research unit, found that the World Bank had greatly improved in its attempts to address gender disparities.
Salimova said the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action endorsed gender main-streaming as the most effective way to address gender issues.
"The importance of gender main-streaming was further reiterated in the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000. As part of these international commitments, the World Bank strengthened its 1993 gender strategy and adopted Integrating Gender into the World Bank's Work: A Strategy for Action. This strategy focused on helping client countries reduce poverty and enhance human development by addressing gender disparities."
Salimova said the assessment also found that the bank's support to client countries to address gender disparities was generally more effective in the 2000s than in the 1990s.
"It also found that the bank's gender policy has been broadly suitable, though its implementation still needed to be strengthened in order to address the vast gender disparities that crucially constrain development in many client countries," Salimova said.
Salimova said the Millennium Development Goals emphasised the need to strengthen the focus on gender and development, and motivated the international development organisations, including the World Bank, to commit to integrating gender in their programmes and policies.
These efforts were reinforced in South Africa when Southern African Development Community leaders signed the Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008 which committed governments to accelerate the empowerment of women and advance gender equality.
Expected speakers include Ali Khadr, senior manager at IEG and World Bank country director for South Africa, and other foreign dignitaries.