IMF Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender—Background Paper

IMF STRATEGY TOWARD MAINSTREAMING GENDER—BACKGROUND PAPER

Abstract

IMF STRATEGY TOWARD MAINSTREAMING GENDER—BACKGROUND PAPER

Title Page

IMF STRATEGY TOWARD MAINSTREAMING GENDER—BACKGROUND PAPER

July 22, 2022

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This background paper provides additional details on substantiation, illustrations, and arguments to support the Board Paper “IMF Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender.” It is organized as follows:

Section I presents a snapshot of the analytical work undertaken at the IMF on gender thus far and takes stock of the coverage of gender issues to date in surveillance, lending, and capacity development.

Section II provides an overview of the evolution of gender disparities across different dimensions that limit women’s economic empowerment and, in turn, the full potential of total productivity and economic growth of countries.

Section III provides evidence on the macroeconomic impact of gender inequality on economic growth and stability, external competitiveness and balance of payments, inequality, financial stability, and public and private sector performance. It also elaborates on the legal basis for examining gender in IMF’s core activities, which rests on macro-criticality.

Section IV discusses gender-responsive fiscal and financial policies and structural and legal reforms that can support countries’ efforts in reducing gender gaps.

Section V provides an overview of previous engagement with external partners and other stakeholders, ongoing efforts, and plans.

Section VI presents illustrative scenarios of country coverage over the next three years under the gender mainstreaming strategy presented in the Board paper.

Approved By

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu

Prepared by a team from the Strategy, Policy and Review Department led by Ratna Sahay (Senior Advisor on Gender, Office of the Managing Director) and Stefania Fabrizio (SPR) in close collaboration with area and functional departments. Staff team comprised Yehenew Endegnanew, Valentina Flamini, Diego Gomes, Lisa Kolovich, and Baoping Shang (all SPR), with input from Wafa Amr and Irene Yackovlev (both COM); David Amaglobeli, Teresa Curristine, Honda Jiro, Alexander Klemm, Cindy Negus, Carolina Renteria, and Vincent Tang (all FAD); Katharine Christopherson, Audrey Yiadom, Juliet Johnson, Francisca Fernando, Clara Thiemann, and Lucia Gruet (all LEG); Padamja Khandelwal and Yanzhe Xiao (both MCM); Marina Mendes Tavares (RES); Rishi Goyal (WHD); and Anna Fruttero (World Bank). Research assistance was provided by Mattia Chiapello and Musirah Farrukh (SPR), and administrative assistance was provided by Amelia Oliveira (SPR) and Laila Azoor (WHD).

Contents

  • Glossary

  • SECTION I: IMF'S ENGAGEMENT ON GENDER: STOCKTAKING

  • A. Evolution of Gender Work at the IMF

  • B. Multilateral Surveillance

  • C. Country-Level Engagement

  • D. Data and Toolkits

  • SECTION II: HOW LARGE ARE GENDER DISPARITIES?

  • A. Human Capital Development

  • B. Access to Finance

  • C. Labor Market Outcomes

  • D. Legal Barriers

  • E. The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Gender Inequalities

  • SECTION III: MACRO-CRITICALITY OF GENDER DISPARITIES

  • A. Brief Review of the Literature on the Macroeconomic Impact of Gender Gaps

  • B. An Overview of The Fund’s Mandate Related to Gender

  • SECTION IV: POLICIES TO PURSUE WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

  • A. Fiscal Policies

  • B. Policies for Promoting Financial Inclusion

  • C. Product and Labor Market Policies

  • D. Policies to Address Legal Barriers

  • SECTION V: COLLABORATION WITH EXTERNAL PARTNERS AND ENGAGEMENT WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

  • A. Collaboration with the World Bank Group and Other External Partners

  • B. Engagement with Other External Stakeholders

  • SECTION VI: COUNTRY COVERAGE UNDER THE GENDER MAINSTREAMING STRATEGY

  • BOXES

  • 1. Recent Examples of Engagement on Gender Issues in Bilateral Surveillance

  • 2. Taking Stock of Program Engagement on Gender

  • FIGURES

  • 1. Taking Stock: Approach and Support, 2015–19

  • 2. Indicators of Women’s Health

  • 3. Gender Gaps in Education

  • 4. Gender Gap in Youth Literacy Rate (Age 15–24)

  • 5. Global Share of Female and Male Students Enrolled in Higher Education by Field of Study

  • 6. Women’s Access to Finance

  • 7. Gender Gaps: Traditional versus Fintech-Driven Financial Inclusion, 2017

  • 8. Labor Force Participation Rates

  • 9. Gender Wage Gap

  • 10. Women in Managerial Positions

  • 11. Representation in Politics

  • 12. Legal Restrictions

  • 13. Female Employment Rate and Share of Part-Time Female Workers

  • 14. Female to Male Gap in Entrepreneurship Share of Employment

  • TABLE

  • 1. Number of Countries Covered with Increasing Depth Over Time

  • ANNEXES

  • I. References for Multilateral Surveillance on Gender Issues

  • II. Country Coverage of Gender Topics, 2015–21

  • References

Glossary

AFR

African Department

AFRITAC

Africa Regional Technical Assistance Center

APD

Asia and Pacific Department

ATI

Africa Training Institute

CD

Capacity Development

COM

Communications Department

CSOs

Civil Society Organizations

DSA

Debt Sustainability Analysis

EBRD

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

ECF

Extended Credit Facility

EFF

Extended Fund Facility

EIB

European Investment Bank

EMs

Emerging Markets

EMDEs

Emerging Markets and Developing Economies

EUR

European Department

FAD

Fiscal Affairs Department

FCDO

UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

FSAP

Financial Sector Assessment Program

FY

Fiscal Year

GDP

Gross Domestic Product

IADB

Inter-American Development Bank

ICD

Institute for Capacity and Development

IEO

Independent Evaluation Office

IFC

International Finance Corporation

IFIs

International Financial Institutions

ILO

International Labour Organization

ILOSTAT

International Labour Organization Statistics

IMF

International Monetary Fund

JVI

Joint Vienna Institute

MCD

Middle East and Central Asia Department

MCM

Monetary and Capital Markets Department

MEFP

Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies

OECD

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

SARTTAC

South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center

SDN

Staff Discussion Note

SPR

Strategy, Policy, and Review Department

TA

Technical Assistance

TADAT

Tax Administration Diagnostic and Assessment Tool

UN

United Nations

UN Women

United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

UNCDF

United Nations Capital Development Fund

UNDP

United Nations Development Programme

UNESCO

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

UNICEF

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund

We-Fi

Women Entrepreneurs in Finance

WEO

World Economic Outlook

WHD

Western Hemisphere Department

Section I: IMF's Engagement on Gender: Stocktaking1

This section summarizes the evolution of gender work at the IMF—multilateral surveillance, country-level engagement (surveillance, lending and capacity development), data collection, and toolkit development.

A. Evolution of Gender Work at the IMF

1. Gender-related topics began to systematically appear in the Fund’s work program a decade ago. The 2013 IMF Board paper (IMF, 2013a) presented empirical findings that narrowing gender gaps is essential for high employment and growth, while IMF (2013b) discussed how these issues should be covered in surveillance and lending work. In 2015, the Fund committed to supporting member countries in pursuing the 2030 Development Agenda, which included addressing gender inequality (IMF, 2015a, 2015b). Research on gender and macroeconomics and finance increased. In 2015, the IMF undertook a global study on gender budgeting, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID),2 which included high-level staff from UN Women and World Bank on the project’s advisory committee. Thereafter, the IMF began developing and delivering CD on gender budgeting, building the foundations of these reforms through workshops and outreach. IMF (2017a) set out a framework for the Fund’s capacity development (CD) work on gender budgeting.

2. A pilot initiative from 2015 to 2019 began operationalizing gender in country work. It helped accumulate knowledge, experience, and good practices, and resulted in studies covering 39 countries. A 2017 presentation to the IMF Board and the 2018 how-to note envisaged macro-criticality as the basis for the coverage of gender issues, with in-depth analysis of a limited number of countries each year (Figure 1). Around the same time, the Fund started to collect gender-disaggregated financial sector data as part of the Financial Access Survey (FAS).

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Taking Stock: Approach and Support, 2015–19

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

3. Some departments and an advisory group supported the pilot. An advisory group on gender, created in 2015, drew staff with an interest or expertise in gender-related analyses to promote peer learning. Its role was formalized in late 2019 when IMF Management nominated chairs and departmental representatives. During the pilot initiative, a small, temporary team provided support to country teams.

4. While the COVID-19 crisis initially required a Fund-wide refocus of providing emergency assistance to member countries, the attention to gender issues followed soon after. This process led to the development of the first strategy for mainstreaming gender in the Fund’s core activities proposed in the Board paper, “IMF Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender.”

B. Multilateral Surveillance

5. Cross-country studies on gender have helped establish the macro-criticality of gender issues and provided in-depth analyses over a broad range of topics. This is mostly in the form of books, SDNs, departmental papers and policy papers. Examples of studies include (Annex I):

  • Female labor force participation. Studies cover a variety of topics from trends and drivers of gender gaps in labor force participation, including for sub-groups such as the youth, to policies that promote female labor force participation, including through removing legal barriers (Ahn and others, 2019; Elborgh-Woytek and others, 2013; Fabrizio and others, 2020; Gonzales and others, 2015a; Christiansen and others, 2016).

  • Macroeconomic and financial impact of gender diversity. Gender diversity has positive macroeconomic consequences that go beyond the expansion of the labor force, benefiting both men and women (Ostry and others, 2018). Similarly, greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of the financial sector can help foster financial stability (Sahay and others, 2018; Sahay and others, forthcoming, 2022). However, as financial inclusion improves, including in the gender dimension, steps need to be taken to manage the associated financial stability risks (Sahay and others, 2015).

  • New technologies and gender gaps. Brussevich and others (2018) analyze the impacts of new technologies on gender gaps in employment and wages and the policies that are needed to mitigate such impacts.

  • Gender gaps and income inequality. Several dimensions of gender inequality are found to be associated with income inequality, including financial inclusion (Gonzales and others, 2015b; Čihák and Sahay, 2020).

  • Gender budgeting. Gender budgeting focuses on the design and use of tax and expenditure policies and public financial management instruments to address gender inequality and the advancement of women in areas such as education, health, and economic empowerment. Gender budgeting can be used to reduce gender gaps such as those in labor force participation, education, and health outcomes, which in turn can help promote economic growth. Kolovich (2018) provides an overview of gender budgeting efforts across member countries while IMF (2017a) focuses on G7 countries.

6. IMF flagship reports have rarely focused on gender-sensitive analysis, though it has featured in the discussion of broader topics. Gender analysis has typically been covered in the context of labor market issues, financial/digital inclusion, or inequality and inclusive growth. Over the past five years, gender was covered as part of broader issues in the World Economic Outlook (WEO) (IMF, 2018b; IMF, 2020; and IMF 2021a) and in the Fiscal Monitor (IMF, 2017b and IMF, 2021b). It is yet to be featured in the GFSR. Text analysis further shows that gender equality has been mentioned in flagship reports less often than other emerging issues, such as climate, inequality, and digital currency. Recently, motivated by the COVID-19 crisis, flagship publications have recognized the disproportionate impact on women (IMF, 2020; IMF, 2021a; and IMF, 2021b). Gender has similarly been showcased in Regional Economic Outlooks. Going forward, including gender analysis in flagship reports can serve as a signal to country teams and authorities of the relevance and importance of considering gender impacts of policy advice.

C. Country-Level Engagement

Surveillance

7. Since 2015, the coverage of gender has increased in bilateral surveillance, though the depth of the analysis varied greatly, and in most cases, has not been fully integrated into core policy discussions. Gender has been featured in more than 80 Article IV staff reports since 2015, covering more than 40 countries to date, primarily through the pilot initiative during 2015–19. Labor force participation was the main angle (Annex II). That said, analysis of gender in staff reports has typically remained at arms-length from the core macroeconomic diagnostics that drive policy discussions during the Article IV Consultation cycle (Box 1). A notable exception has been IMF’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa, where there has been a more systematic and effective engagement across countries.

Recent Examples of Engagement on Gender Issues in Bilateral Surveillance

Canada. During the 2021 Article IV Consultation, discussions included a focus on the impact of the COVID-19-related lockdown on female workers. The team prepared a box analyzing the severity of women’s job losses and the projected path of recovery in female labor force participation. In policy discussions, the team noted that the Canada-wide early learning and childcare system was a step in the right direction for increasing female labor force participation.

Italy. During the 2020 Article IV Consultation staff conducted analysis to quantify gender gaps, which served as the basis for policy advice to the authorities, emphasizing the need for well-designed reductions in the tax wedge on secondary earners and enhanced child and elder care services to incentivize female labor force participation.

Senegal. Staff policy advice on closing gender gaps in Senegal was underpinned by an in-depth Selected Issues Paper (SIP) “Gender Gaps in Senegal: From Education to Labor Market” prepared for the 2018 Article IV Consultation. The analysis highlighted the macroeconomic benefits that could be harnessed by a further reduction in existing large gender gaps in secondary and tertiary education and lowering barriers to entry and advancement in the labor market.

Mexico. The contrast between gender parity in education and low female labor force participation was a topic of discussion during the 2019 Article IV Consultation, which was presented in a box on gender gaps. Staff found that while gender parity in education and politics (including near gender parity in Congress) was attained, large gender gaps remained in employment and at the level of corporate representation. Staff raised concerns over the cancelation of subsidies for childcare facilities and their replacement with direct transfers and underscored the need to lower participation barriers for women, especially for mothers.

Japan. The 2019 Article IV Consultation included extensive analysis and discussions of child-friendly policies and government initiatives to reduce gender inequality. Staff carried out a case study of Nagi-town, touted as a success story for its child-friendly policies that have bolstered the fertility rate. Staff highlighted the range of family and child-friendly policies implemented by Nagi-town, ranging from financial benefits to housing. Notably, the town also took strides toward creating more employment opportunities for women who wanted to continue to work after childbirth. Staff also highlighted the measures in place that supported working women. These ranged from action plans to reduce gender inequality to public procurement incentives. Staff policy advice pointed to the scope for further increasing labor supply by strengthening firms’ incentives to support women in the labor force.

8. Close collaboration with the authorities and external partners has helped advance gender policies and improve traction. Early engagement with the authorities on potential macro-critical gender issues, including through Executive Directors, increased traction of IMF policy advice. Collaboration with key external partners (e.g., donors, the World Bank Group, and UN Women) leveraged their expertise and resources and helped coordinate policy messages across development partners to increase impact.

Lending

9. Engagement on gender in the context of IMF-supported programs has been limited. Engagement (six countries) has typically focused on macro-structural issues, with conditionality in the form of structural benchmarks (Box 2). These IMF-supported programs did not include structural benchmarks on gender in subsequent reviews.

Taking Stock of Program Engagement on Gender

Argentina: IMF staff analyzed the impacts of gender inequality in labor force participation and, as part of the 2018 request for a Stand-by Arrangement, the authorities outlined several commitments in the memorandum of economic and financial policies (MEFP) to improve female labor force participation, including tax policy reforms, promoting equal pay, developing a more equal system of paternity and maternity leave, publishing gender-disaggregated data, and reducing gender-based violence.

Egypt: In the MEFP of the 2016 Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement, the authorities committed to improving female labor force participation by increasing the availability and quality of pre-school childcare and working to improve public transport safety.

Jordan: In the context of the 2020 EFF arrangement, the authorities committed to labor law reforms to increase female labor force participation by lifting working hour restrictions, mandating employer-provided daycare, and improving public transportation. A structural benchmark on issuing by-laws and/or issuing instructions aimed at increasing access to affordable childcare was included.

Niger: A 2017 SIP pointed to gender inequality as a cause of significant growth losses and poverty and noted that cultural and social norms could pose challenges to addressing root causes. Despite these potential challenges, the country team focused on gender equality during the first review of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF)-supported program, with the authorities agreeing to include a structural benchmark on developing a gender equality strategy.

Pakistan: The 2016 SIP on female labor force participation and growth impacts was well-received by the authorities. The 2019 extended arrangement under the IMF EFF arrangement for Pakistan introduced three structural benchmarks to address gender gaps in school attendance and financial inclusion.

São Tomé and Príncipe: A structural benchmark on developing a national gender equality strategy was introduced in the 2019 ECF-supported program. The IMF country team collaborated closely with the Ministries of Justice and Labor, UN agencies, the São Tomé and Principe Gender Institute, and Canadian diplomats to secure external funding to hire two experts to build technical capacity and formulate a strategy which was completed on time to meet the structural benchmarks in the first review. During the second review, the authorities’ MEFP commitment was to introduce a gender budgeting pilot initiative and publish gender-disaggregated statistics on wages and managerial positions.

10. In some cases, a more systematic approach has been adopted. For example, staff conducted comprehensive reviews of gender gaps across countries in Sub-Saharan Africa prior to selecting Niger as a case for enhanced engagement. This approach provides a useful road map for a more intentional deployment of limited resources to increase impact. Other cases, such as Lesotho, illustrate how frequent interdepartmental discussions and coordination elevated the quality of policy advice and traction. Where staff lacked sufficient know-how, leveraging external resources, notably UN Women and in-country partners, also proved useful.

Capacity Development

11. Tailored capacity development is gaining traction, in response to country authorities’ requests. The IMF has provided technical assistance to strengthen institutional capacity for gender budgeting (Albania, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Togo), and conducted a scoping mission on gender budgeting (Nigeria). In 2021, CD missions to Cameroon, South Africa, and The Gambia were delivered, followed by a regional workshop in Central Africa. Further CD efforts for Cambodia, Costa Rica, Lesotho (in consultation with UN Women), and Togo are planned. The IMF, in collaboration with the Tax Administration Diagnostic and Assessment Tool (TADAT) Secretariat, has released podcasts on gender and revenue administration. The IMF is also working to raise awareness and gather information on gender during diagnostic missions as part of its efforts to mainstream gender.

12. External seminars, trainings, and workshops have been a useful vehicle for sensitizing the authorities and stakeholders. The IMF has provided joint seminars and/or courses to country authorities focused on the impact of gender gaps on the macroeconomy, the impact of the pandemic on gender inequality, and gender budgeting concepts. It has conducted 19 workshops on gender budgeting, often in collaboration with multilateral agencies such as UN Women. Strong ongoing demand for workshops has resulted in multi-year offerings; the Joint Vienna Institute’s (JVI) course is in its fourth year. In 2020, the first workshops on gender economics were delivered at the Africa Training Institute (ATI) and JVI, and a two-week course on gender and macroeconomics, developed jointly with UN Women, took place in February 2022 at ATI and the South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC). Two external courses for authorities in member countries on gender and macroeconomics—one at ATI and another one at the IMF's Middle East Center for Economics and Finance (CEF)—are planned for the current fiscal year. Peer learning events have been held in Rwanda (2017), Mauritius (2018), Tanzania (2018), Ethiopia (2019), Senegal (2020), Angola (2021), Cambodia (2021), and Latin America (2021). IMF, in coordination with UN Women, held Anglophone and Lusophone workshops on the impact of COVID-19 in 2020.

13. Internal training courses are being developed for IMF staff with topics covering female labor supply, the link from gender inequality to growth and inclusion, and gender budgeting. A seminar on “Women, Wealth Effects, and Slow Recoveries” was held in August 2021. A gender budgeting course featured speakers from the World Bank, UN Women, and several finance/line ministries from sub-Saharan Africa. The five-day course covered topics such as gender needs and gender impact assessments, fiscal planning and gender strategies, gender statements, the inclusion of gender considerations in budget circulars, gender-disaggregated statistics, and monitoring and evaluation.

14. A series of internal peer-learning seminars and targeted gender clinics are being offered to Fund staff. These seminars and clinics are targeted to Fund economists and mission chiefs who are working on or plan to work on macro-critical gender issues. The first peer-learning session took place in January 2022 and focused on how to mainstream gender into surveillance, highlighting lessons learned from first-hand experiences with India, Japan, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. The second session was held in March 2022 and discussed how to approach gender in capacity development. This session drew upon the IMF’s efforts to support gender budgeting initiatives through tailored CD missions and numerous workshops, courses, and training activities offered to country authorities. The third session, scheduled for early fiscal year 2023 (FY23), will cover how to incorporate gender into IMF programs, focusing on past experiences with designing gender-related structural benchmarks and authority commitments in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP). The internal training program for FY23 also includes two clinics on Macroeconomics and Gender Equality.

D. Data and Toolkits

15. The IMF’s Financial Access Survey (FAS) is a unique source of annual supply-side data on access to and the use of basic financial services. The FAS was established in 2009. After two pilot gender-disaggregated data collections, the Statistics Department (STA) mainstreamed gender-disaggregated data as part of the regular FAS data collection in 2018. Data disaggregated by gender are available for both commercial banks and microfinance institutions for 71 countries, half of which are developing countries. Of the 121 series reported in the FAS, 15 are disaggregated by gender. The number of countries reporting gender-disaggregated data to the FAS has doubled from 35 in 2018 to 71 in 2021. Close to half of the gender data reported in the FAS are low- and lower middle-income countries, including 21 fragile and conflict-affected states.

16. The IMF is working on developing a gender data hub, a one-stop shop of macro-relevant gender data series. The initial launch of the data hub would present curated gender data series from existing data sources to address the most common demands from IMF staff, identified through departmental consultations and guided by relevant policy questions. The gender data hub will offer user-friendly access to gender-related indicators on a modern data analytics platform while being linked to the Economic Outlook Suite (EcOS) database, enabling smooth integration of gender data into the work of Fund economists. While there are various gender data sources (e.g., the World Bank Group’s gender data portal), centralized access to external data sources through the gender data hub will increase efficiency, avoid duplicate efforts by country teams to collect gender-related data from various sources, and ensure consistency in gender-related data use across country teams. In due course, the data hub could be developed into a data dashboard with accessibility by external users if there is a clear business case to do so.

17. The Fund has developed two gender budgeting toolkits. The first provides data for 70 case studies on gender budgeting efforts along with two time-consistent indices of gender equality, spanning 1990–2013 and covering most countries in the world. The toolkit can be used to investigate the relationship between countries that have implemented policies to improve gender equality and the gender equality indices. The second consists of a database built from an extensive survey of country authorities on their gender budgeting efforts and allows for cross-country comparisons on the different components of gender budgeting.

18. To help provide granular country-specific advice to member countries, staff are developing general equilibrium models. These models will examine the impact of macroeconomic and financial policies on female and male employment and economic growth, and their fiscal implications. Over the past five years, IMF staff have developed life-cycle general equilibrium models with heterogeneous agents suited for investigating a broad range of policies and countries, which were applied in several studies under the pilot initiative on gender. Staff are planning to build on these models to develop a user-friendly toolkit to support country teams in analyzing gender.

Section II: How Large are Gender Disparities?3

This section provides an overview of the evolution of gender disparities that limit women’s economic empowerment, including inequality of opportunities (such as access to health care services, education, and financial services, and legal barriers) and inequality of outcomes (such as labor force participation, wages, and representation in the private and public sectors).

A. Human Capital Development

19. Despite progress in recent decades in human capital development, some social indicators point to persistent gender disparities.

  • Women’s access to health care has improved in recent decades, but adolescent fertility and maternal mortality remain high in some regions (Figure 2).

  • Gender gaps in access to education have been shrinking across all regions and income groups, but gender disparities in literacy persist (Figures 34).

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Indicators of Women’s Health

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Gender Gaps in Education

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Gender Gap in Youth Literacy Rate (Age 15–24)

(Percentage of Female Students Minus Percentage of Male Students)

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere.
  • Gender disparities remain large in several fields of study. UNESCO (2017) finds that across 115 countries, on average, female students tend to enroll less in technology, engineering, manufacturing and construction areas and more in education, health and welfare, arts and humanities, and social sciences (Figure 5).

Figure 5.
Figure 5.

Global Share of Female and Male Students Enrolled in Higher Education by Field of Study

(Percentage of Students)

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: UIS 2014–16.

B. Access to Finance

20. Large gender disparities exist in accessing financial services (Figure 6). While global access to financial services has increased over time, on average, women have fewer accounts than men at financial institutions. The gaps are largest in sub-Saharan Africa where 27 percent of women have an account compared to 36 percent of men, and in Middle East and Central Asia with 40 percent of women versus 51 percent of men. The gender gap is even higher in accessing bank credit. For example, women entrepreneurs face more restrictive collateral requirements, shorter maturity of loans, and higher interest rates than men. They also suffer more from financial illiteracy and lack of household financial resources, preventing them from getting loans (Sahay and others, 2015; DFiD-GIZ, 2013).

Figure 6.
Figure 6.

Women’s Access to Finance

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere.

21. Overall, gender gaps in fintech-driven financial inclusion are closing faster, including in regions with the largest gaps in traditional financial inclusion. Overall, gender gaps for fintech-driven financial inclusion are slightly lower than for traditional financial inclusion (Figure 7). Across countries, fintech is contributing toward closing gender gaps in Middle East and African countries while gaps are lower for traditional financial inclusion in Asian and Latin American countries (Sahay and others, 2020).

Figure 7.
Figure 7.

Gender Gaps: Traditional versus Fintech-Driven Financial Inclusion, 2017

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Sources: IMF staff calculations; Sahay and others, 2020.Note: The gender gap is defined as the percentage difference between the male and female financial inclusion index. Higher values indicate a larger gender gap.

C. Labor Market Outcomes

22. Progress has been made in closing the gender gap in labor force participation, but there is still a long way to go. About 50 percent of working-age women participate to the labor force, which is significantly lower than the ratio of 80 percent for men, though the gap has been narrowing over time (Figure 8).

Figure 8.
Figure 8.

Labor Force Participation Rates

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere.

23. Although it has slowly narrowed, there remains a marked gender wage gap within most countries and occupations (Figure 9). Gender wage gap data are not readily available for most developing countries. For OECD countries, the gender wage gap—defined as the percentage difference between the median earnings of female and male full-time employees—was estimated at 11.6 percentage points in 2020, compared to 18 percentage points in 2000.

Figure 9.
Figure 9.

Gender Wage Gap

(Percentage Points)

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2021. For each country the data reported refers to the most recent year in which the indicators are available in the OECD Gender database (2018–20).

24. The share of women in managerial positions has increased in the past decade but a large gap persists (Figure 10). Based on countries where data are available, all regions made progress in women’s representation in managerial positions from 2009 to 2019, with the largest increase observed in Middle East and Central Asia from 17 percent to 27 percent. Nonetheless, even in regions with the highest women’s representation, the share remains below 50 percent, and has increased sluggishly from 37 percent to 40 percent in Western Hemisphere and from 33 percent to 35 percent in sub-Saharan Africa over the 2009–19 period.

Figure 10.
Figure 10.

Women in Managerial Positions

(Percent of Total)

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere.

25. There has been substantial progress over time in the representation of women in politics, but it remains well below parity in all regions (Figure 11). The proportion of women in legislative and ministerial-level positions has increased worldwide with notable improvements in sub-Saharan Africa and the Western Hemisphere. While female representation is well below 50 percent in all regions, Asia and Middle East and Central Asia have the lowest proportions, at around 18 percent in legislative positions and at 12 percent in ministerial-level positions in 2019.

Figure 11.
Figure 11.

Representation in Politics

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank World Development Indicators database.Note: AFR = Africa; APD = Asia and Pacific; EUR = Europe; MCD = Middle East and Central Asia; WHD = Western Hemisphere.

D. Legal Barriers

26. Despite progress over time, laws containing discriminatory provisions and other restrictions on women’s economic opportunity are prevalent in many countries, with women enjoying only three-quarters of legal rights of men (Figure 12). The 2021 Women, Business, and the Law index, which measures gender equality in eight key areas, examines laws across 190 countries and finds that only 10 countries score 100 (i.e., no de jure forms of gender discrimination).

Figure 12.
Figure 12.

Legal Restrictions

Women, Business, and the Law Index Score (Scale 1–100)

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: The World Bank Women, Business, and the Law database.Notes: AFR=Africa; APD=Asia and Pacific; EUR=Europe; MCD=Middle East and Central Asia; WHD=Western Hemisphere. Higher scores indicate fewer legal restrictions, with 100 indicating no de jure forms of discrimination.

E. The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Gender Inequalities

27. The COVID-19 crisis has wreaked havoc across the world, disproportionately affecting women and greatly exacerbating pre-existing economic gender gaps (Bluedorn and others, 2021; Alonso and others, 2019). The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2021), covering 156 countries, found that it is now expected to take more than 130 years to close gender gaps worldwide under current policies. Globally, 64 million women lost their jobs during the pandemic (twice as much as men), as they were disproportionately represented in the hardest-hit sectors and they are more frequently employed in informal, temporary, and part-time jobs—the types of jobs employers tend to cut first in a downturn—with lower pay and social protection.

28. Traditionally, women are more likely to face higher unpaid work burdens4—including child and elder care and housework—and violence, all of which rose sharply during the COVID-19 crisis (Alonso and others, 2019). This is particularly the case for mothers of young children who bear the cost of school closures (Georgieva and others, 2021; Fabrizio and others, 2021); globally, on average, women took on three times as many additional hours of childcare than men (Kenny and Yang, 2021). In addition, violence against women increased during the pandemic (UN Women, 2020). Nearly one in two women reported that they or a woman they know experienced violence during the pandemic (Ouedraogo and Stenzel, 2021; UN Women, 2021). Of the additional cases of depression and anxiety estimated for 2020, roughly two-thirds were women (Santomauro and others, 2021).

29. The COVID-19 crisis has not only exacerbated gender disparities but also highlighted the weakness of social safety nets and infrastructure needed for women to keep working (Tang and others, 2021). Enhancing the availability and affordability of care services, including for children, older people, and persons with disabilities needs to be prioritized. Flexible work arrangements and access to paid family and parental leave can help working mothers to better balance unpaid care responsibilities with paid employment (IMF, 2018a). However, during the pandemic, the policy response of most countries did not take gender issues into account (UNDP Global Gender Policy Tracker, April 2021). Across 219 countries and territories, fewer than 20 percent had a holistic gender-sensitive pandemic response, while 15 percent had no gender-sensitive measures. This outcome also reflects the gender gap in the composition of task forces aimed at fighting the pandemic and its consequences. In task forces across 137 countries, fewer than 5 percent had gender parity, and women made up only 27 percent of task force members.

30. Although disparities widened during the pandemic, there is evidence of considerable heterogeneity across countries. For example, IMF (2022) points out the variation across EU countries, with men in Germany, Portugal, and the United Kingdom experiencing larger declines in employment compared to women, while in Finland, Hungary, Iceland, and Romania, women were more negatively affected. From a sample of advanced economies and emerging markets, Bluedorn and others (2021) show that, in the second quarter of 2020, 63 percent of advanced economies and 88 percent of emerging markets experienced a sharper decline in female employment than in male employment. While this trend was relatively short-lived in advanced economies except for the United States, in emerging markets the “she-cession” has persisted. The reduction over time in gender gaps in employment holds across country groups, but with a larger drop in advanced economies.

Section III: Macro-Criticality of Gender Disparities5

This section provides evidence from the literature on the macroeconomic impact of gender inequality on economic growth and stability, external competitiveness and balance of payments, financial stability, public and private sector performance, and income inequality. It then presents the legal basis for examining gender issues in the context of the IMF’s core activities, which is based on macro-criticality.

A. Brief Review of the Literature on the Macroeconomic Impact of Gender Gaps

31. Improving gender disparities in outcomes, opportunities, and decision-making can raise economic growth and enhance macro-financial stability. A country’s economic growth goes hand-in-hand with women’s greater participation in the labor market. The latter, in turn, rises when women face fewer legal barriers; do less unpaid work; have more equal access to education, finance, infrastructure, assets, and technology; and face lower violence and cultural barriers. Closing these disparities can also help lower income inequality and increase economic diversification, which in turn contribute to economic growth and macroeconomic resilience.

32. This means that many gender gaps are macro-critical, and macroeconomic and financial shocks and policies can exacerbate or narrow them. Gender gaps can affect macroeconomic outcomes through various channels (see, for example, Figure 1 of the main paper, and the next paragraph).

33. A growing literature confirms the macroeconomic impact of gender gaps through various channels. Reducing gender gaps can benefit everybody by helping stimulate economic growth, strengthen macroeconomic and financial stability boost public and private sector performance, and reduce income inequality (Elborgh-Woytek and others, 2013; Gonzales and others, 2015a; Kochhar and others, 2017; Sahay and others, 2015; Sahay and others, 2018; Cihak and Sahay, 2020):

  • Economic growth and stability. Gender inequality in human capital development and labor market participation has strong implications for economic welfare and growth.

    • There is strong evidence that boosting female labor force participation can stimulate economic growth and stability (Ostry and others, 2018; Petersson and others, 2017; Woetzel and others, 2015; Caprioli, 2005; Demeritt and others, 2014; Cuberes and Teignier, 2016 and 2018; Bandara, 2015; Gonzales and others, 2015b; Hakura and others, 2016).

    • As women enter the labor market, labor productivity would benefit from a better skill match. In addition, without restrictions on access to education and female labor force participation, women would have acquired different skills that better match their talent. This would further boost productivity. For example, in the U.S., between 20 to 40 percent of per-capita output growth during 1960–2010 can be explained by better allocation of talent and falling barriers to human capital accumulation, with women accounting for most of the effect (Hsieh and others, 2019). Cross-country evidence also suggests that higher gender equality translates into higher labor productivity (Bertay and others, 2020).

    • Reducing the gaps in access to nutrition, education, and healthcare can help build human capital, a key input for economic output (Klasen, 2002). This, however, requires a corresponding increase in female labor force participation, as women’s full potential cannot be harnessed if women are educated but remain out of the labor force.

    • Innovation is a key driver of productivity growth. But gender gaps hinder innovation at every step of the process, from education and training to the practice of invention and commercialization. A growing literature shows better outcomes for more diverse and mixed-gender teams (Rock and Grant, 2016; Cook, 2019; Cook and others, 2021).

    • Gender gaps in entrepreneurship are also found to be negatively associated with aggregate productivity and income, since they reduce the entrepreneurs’ average talent. Gender gaps in entrepreneurship cause an average income loss of 6 percent in the OECD, with potentially higher losses in developing countries (Cuberes and Teignier, 2016).

    • Greater financial inclusion goes hand-in-hand with higher economic growth, particularly in countries with lower overall levels of financial inclusion (Sahay and others, 2015).

  • External competitiveness and balance of payments. Gender inequalities could impede competitiveness and increase balance of payment vulnerabilities.6 In countries with higher gender inequality, the variety of goods that countries produce and export is constrained, particularly in low-income and developing economies (Kazandjian and others, 2016). This happens through at least two channels. First, gender gaps in opportunity, such as lower education enrollment rates for girls, harm diversification by constraining the potential pool of human capital. Second, gender gaps in the labor and financial markets impede the development of new ideas by decreasing the efficiency of the labor force and entrenching informality. Hence, the economy’s productive capacity and efficiency could be affected. Over time, such structural rigidities also affect the economy’s ability to adapt to shocks. Increasing equality of opportunities could improve the productivity and flexibility of the labor force and support economic growth and diversification, including through international trade. Increased flexibility of the labor force would also improve the overall resilience of the economy to shocks and enhance prospective balance of payments stability.

  • Financial stability. Greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services lowers gender inequality and fosters stability in the banking system (Olusegun, 2017; Sahay and others, 2018). Women in leadership positions and greater diversity on boards of financial institutions and fintech companies, as well as banking supervision agencies are associated with lower non-performing loans and greater financial stability (Sahay and Čihák, 2018; Khera and others, 2022, forthcoming; Strøm and others, 2014).

  • Private and public sector performance. Greater representation of women in managerial positions and corporate boards is positively associated with firm performance, such as funding obtained, revenue earned, and profitability (Christiansen and others, 2016). There is increasing evidence that fintech companies headed by women bring in more revenues (Khera and others, 2022, forthcoming; Sahay and others, 2022, forthcoming). Women’s political leadership is also associated with greater infrastructure spending and educational attainment of girls (Duflo, 2012). Importantly, unequal representation in leadership positions both stem from and contribute to other drivers of gender disparities.

  • Income inequality. Reducing gender gaps could also help reduce income inequality and, in turn, improve social stability and economic growth (Gonzales and others, 2015a). Both men and women benefit from financial inclusion, but inequality falls more when women have greater access (Čihák and Sahay, 2020). Gender wage gaps directly contribute to income inequality. Conversely, policies to address gender inequality benefit women in low-income households the most, also reducing income inequality. For example, reducing gender gaps in school enrollment (and expanding healthcare) increases the likelihood for girls from poor households to receive education thereby increasing their lifetime earnings potential (Demery and Gaddis, 2009).

34. Several factors contribute to gender gaps in human capital development and labor force participation, including legal barriers, violence against women, and child marriage.7 Legal impediments significantly hamper female labor force participation and entrepreneurship (World Bank, 2015; Gonzales and others, 2015a; Christopherson and others, 2022). In some countries, women lack basic legal rights and are legally restricted from heading a household, pursuing a profession, or owning or inheriting assets, preventing them from joining the formal labor market or becoming entrepreneurs. Violence against women and girls has multi-dimensional implications on the overall economy. It is estimated that a one percentage point increase in violence against women is associated with a nine percent lower level of economic activity (Ouedraogo and Stenzel, 2021). In the short term, women from abusive homes are likely to work fewer hours and be less productive. In the long run, high levels of domestic violence can decrease the number of women in the workforce, minimize women’s acquisition of skills and education, and impact children’s productivity. It can result in less public investment overall as more public resources are channeled to health and judicial services. Concern about violence against women while commuting or at work is also a barrier to women’s employment (Jayachandran, 2021). Ending child marriage is not only critical from a human rights perspective but it also has important macroeconomic implications— eliminating child marriage today would increase long-term annual per capita real GDP growth by about one percentage points in emerging and developing countries (Mitra and others, 2020).

B. An Overview of The Fund’s Mandate Related to Gender

35. While the Fund is not an institution with a dedicated focus on gender, gender outcomes can have significant implications for countries’ economic and financial performance. As noted, women’s economic empowerment and the reduction of gender gaps in key areas is associated with positive macroeconomic outcomes, including higher economic growth, lower inequality, increased productivity, better financial sector outcomes and greater financial stability. Conversely, the economic disempowerment of women, gaps in access to education, health, and financial services, and legal barriers to women’s economic participation can negatively impact macroeconomic and financial stability and countries’ ability to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth.

36. These outcomes, in turn, are relevant for the Fund’s exercise of its core functions of surveillance, lending, and capacity development. While often referred to broadly as coverage of gender (or other structural issues) where these are “macro-critical”, the relevant standard for such macro-critical coverage in fact differs across the three core functions, as discussed below.

Bilateral Surveillance

37. In the exercise of its bilateral surveillance powers under Article IV, Section 1, the Fund focuses on those policies of members that can significantly influence present or prospective balance of payments and domestic stability [Integrated Surveillance Decision (ISD), ¶6, Decision No. 15203-(12/72), July 18, 2012]. Monetary, fiscal, and financial sector policies are always to be covered under this provision and should therefore be discussed in bilateral surveillance where related to gender outcomes/women’s economic empowerment (e.g., fiscal policies are often part of the toolkit for addressing key gender gaps). Other policies related to gender/women’s economic empowerment must also be discussed if they are assessed to significantly influence a country’s present or prospective balance of payments or domestic stability—an assessment that will necessarily vary depending on country circumstances. Under this provision, the Fund has examined topics that pose longer-term risks to domestic and balance of payments stability and determined that failure to address these issues would undermine sustainable and inclusive growth, which in turn would pose a risk to prospective stability in the context of bilateral surveillance.8

38. It should also be noted that policies, including on gender, that fall outside the scope of bilateral surveillance may still be discussed in an Article IV Consultation with the consent of the country concerned.9 Although included in the country’s Article IV Consultation report, the Fund policy advice provided in this context would constitute technical assistance under Article V, Section 2(b) rather than bilateral surveillance under Article IV, Section 1.

Use of Fund Resources

39. Under the Guidelines on Conditionality, gender-related conditionality may be included in Fund-supported programs where those measures are within the country’s direct or indirect control and are considered of critical importance for achieving the goals of the member’s program or for monitoring implementation of the program (Guidelines on Conditionality, ¶ 6–8 and 11(d)(ii), IMF Decision No. 12864–(02/102), September 25, 2002, as amended).10 Specific policies to address gender gaps and women’s economic empowerment should therefore be included as conditionality if a judgement is made that the implementation of those policies is needed to help the member resolve its balance of payments problem within the timeframe for repayment of the Fund.

Capacity Development

40. The Fund has broad authority to provide technical services (which encompasses technical assistance and training) that are consistent with the purposes of the Fund (Article V, Section 2(b)). Given the implications of women’s economic empowerment and the reduction of gender gaps for the mandate of the Fund, as discussed above, the Fund has the power to provide capacity development to help members design and implement policies to improve gender outcomes. As with other areas of the Fund’s work, such CD can be particularly impactful when provided to assist countries with implementation of reforms recommended in the context of surveillance, or where needed to help the member implement conditionality under a Fund-supported program.

Section IV: Policies to Pursue Women's Economic Empowerment11

Many countries are making substantial progress on adopting policies to reduce gender gaps. While not intended as an exhaustive list of all possible policies, this section provides a broad overview of gender-responsive policies that can support countries’ efforts in reducing gender gaps. The effectiveness of policies varies across countries, depending on the country’s economic and social features.

A. Fiscal Policies

41. Fiscal policies play an important role in addressing gender gaps. Revenue and expenditure policies are key redistributive tools and can be designed to reduce gender inequality by supporting the economic empowerment of women and girls. In addition, structural fiscal policies that underpin the formulation of gender-aware government budgets12 and institutions and foster gender diversity in the workforce can further promote women’s development and reduce gender inequality.

Tax Policy

42. Tax policy can impact women’s incomes and labor force participation. The tax system can mitigate or magnify gender gaps. Although gender-sensitive tax policies are broad and country specific, the following list provides good examples of tax policy features that can reduce gender inequality through redistribution:

  • Progressive tax brackets reduce the marginal tax rate for lower incomes, where women are more likely to be represented. It also reduces after-tax income inequality.

  • Marginal tax rates for secondary earners are higher in several tax and social security systems, representing an implicit bias13 against secondary earners, who are often women. The higher marginal tax rates combined with the higher female labor supply elasticity,14 have a negative impact on female labor supply. Individual rather than household taxation and well-designed earned income tax credits are useful tools to address such problems (Coelho and others, 2022).

  • Tax credits or deductions for childcare costs also increase incentives for women to participate in the labor force.

  • Consumption tax rates should be aligned across goods, and specific taxes (e.g., excise) should be aligned with estimated externalities or avoided if there are gender differences in consumption.15

  • High rates of taxation for labor income compared to capital income lead to unintended consequences of disproportionately benefitting men, given their higher average wealth.

Revenue Administration

43. Revenue administrations can apply a gender focus to help reduce barriers for women’s employment, entrepreneurship, and trade. The provision of unbiased information and support helps encourage women to seek employment or start a business. By understanding barriers that restrict women from accessing the tax and benefits system, providing tailored products and services, and eliminating enforcement bias, revenue administrations can better engage female taxpayers. Following international good practice, analyzing data to devise systems and products to encourage and enable voluntary compliance on taxes and customs, can bring more women workers and entrepreneurs into the formal economy.

44. The institutions that oversee revenue administration can also lead by example to support gender equality. They can adopt gender-responsive policies such as gender equity planning, flexible work arrangements, career development, talent management, childcare, sanitation, and secure transport. Implementing key performance indicators to monitor gender balance will also help ensure that gender remains a priority.16

Compensation of Public Sector Employees

45. Closing gender wage gaps in the public sector reduces gender inequality. This pay gap can be closed, for example, by seeking greater gender parity for senior level positions, as women hold only 30 percent of them. On average, women represent a higher share of employment in the public sector than in the formal private sector but earn only 86 percent as much as male workers.17 These wage gaps are smaller in middle- and high-income countries, and larger in low-income countries. Over time, if women in the public sector hold more positions of power and higher pay, the pay gap in the formal private sector, where women earn 76 percent relative to men, may also improve (Shi and others, 2019). Countries with gender disaggregated data, such as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras have smaller gender gaps for pay and seniority (Nwankwo and others, 2021).

Social Protection

46. Social protection systems can play an important role in narrowing gender gaps. A few examples include:

  • Cash transfers. Cash transfers can target female-headed households to improve social welfare, boost human capital, and increase intergenerational mobility for girls. Conditional cash transfers may include school attendance or health requirements (discussed below).18

  • Paid maternity leave. Predominately used in advanced economies, maternity leave policies should seek to optimize the length, benefit amount, and contribution composition (i.e., share paid by employers, employees, and/or government) to minimize de-skilling, fiscal costs, and labor market disincentives.19

  • Paid parental leave. It can improve health and development outcomes for children through increased earnings for mothers, higher female labor force participation, and a more equitable division of labor at home—among other benefits.20

  • Public spending on child and elder care. It can help encourage female labor force participation, particularly for low-income workers.21 In Norway, the expansion of universal childcare increased the likelihood of mothers’ employment by 32 percentage points, while Canada’s "Build Back Better“ plan lays the groundwork for a national childcare system (IMF, 2021c).

  • Active labor market policies. Training programs can enhance the employability of women as shown, for example, in 13 out of 15 studies in a review of active labor market policies in Europe (Bergemann, 2006; IMF, 2020; Romero and Kuddo, 2019).

Education and Health

47. Social spending can increase the human capital of women by increasing access to education and health. Conditional cash transfers can encourage girls’ access to education, and child allowances can reduce the dropout rate of girls (Edo and Marchionni, 2019). Improving teacher training and skills can lead to improved learning outcomes (Evans and Yuan, 2019). Better-educated women also make more informed decisions about nutrition and healthcare (Duflo, 2012). Health spending can lead to improvements in life expectancy and quality and productivity (Remme and others, 2020).

Capital Expenditure

48. Public spending on infrastructure, such as on water and sanitation, energy, and digital services, is critical for reducing unpaid care work, supporting women’s employment, and improving their health. Two billion people lack access to improved sanitation and nearly one billion to potable water, which leads to poor health outcomes (Water.org). Women and girls are often tasked with fetching water, which can lead to lower rates of female school enrollment. Closing the digital divide is also important and can lead to many positive outcomes, for example, to better employment since 90 percent of jobs worldwide have a digital component (UNICEF), particularly in developing countries where internet access is 12 percentage points lower for women. Such capital expenditures can build human capital, empower women, and make economies more productive.

B. Policies for Promoting Financial Inclusion

49. Increasing financial inclusion of women empowers them to manage their income, support their participation in the formal economy, and contribute to GDP growth (Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, 2020; Suri and Jack, 2016). Digital financial services are faster, more efficient, and typically cheaper than traditional financial services, reaching lower-income households and small- and medium-sized enterprises. During the pandemic, they enabled contactless and cashless transactions and facilitated the efficient and quick deployment of government support measures. However, barriers to financial inclusion are often higher for women, in the form of access to resources (mobile phone, internet), cultural or social norms, and digital and financial literacy (Sahay and others, 2020). Government policies to reduce these barriers can be effective but take time.

50. Official identification systems should be universally accessible to women and girls. In modern societies, men and women need official identification documents to participate in economic activities. However, there are gender-based legal barriers (Demirguc-Kunt and others, 2018) that prevent or make it difficult for women to obtain official identification. For example, women in 33 countries cannot apply for passports in the same way as men (World Bank, 2021). Evidence shows that a sound identity system closes gender gaps in the financial sector and improves a country’s overall financial inclusion. Cecchetti and Schoenholtz (2017) indicate that India’s unique 12-digit biometric identification numbers have been used to open bank accounts for over 300 million people as of October 2017. Between 2014 and 2017, account ownership in India increased by about 27 percent, and the gender gap in account ownership narrowed by about 14 percent.

51. Access to mobile phones provides a new opportunity for the development of financial inclusion through digital financial services. According to Global Findex data, mobile phone ownership is high among the unbanked—globally about two-thirds of 1.1 billion unbanked adults have a mobile phone—suggesting significant potential to improve access to digital financial services. But the gender gap persists, as mobile phone ownership of unbanked men is 10 percentage points higher than of unbanked women. Ensuring women have secure access to mobile phones can give them control over their financial resources and unlock the developmental benefits of financial inclusion. Governments can take action to increase the availability of mobile phones through incentives, such as flexible financing arrangements.

52. Governments should set up regulatory and policy frameworks and ensure interoperability of the financial infrastructure and reduce gender gaps. A competitive, trustworthy, and interoperable financial ecosystem—the ability to send money to or receive it from another person even if from different financial service providers with low transaction and time costs—would allow customers to transact with anyone they choose (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2019). Research has shown that women are more likely to have time poverty22 than men owing to restrictive gender norms (Hyde and others, 2020). Chamboko and others (2018) find that women use digital financial services much less than men in sub-Saharan Africa and that attention is needed to designing services using a gender lens. The Peruvian Banking Association developed a common e-money platform with 35 financial institutions to increase interoperability to protect clients and facilitate improved access for women (Women's World Banking, 2016).

53. Enabling direct deposit for government transfers and private sector payments to accounts that are easily accessible and under women’s control can strengthen their household decision-making power, bolster their labor force participation, and reduce poverty. When women-headed households in Kenya adopted mobile money accounts through M-Pesa, poverty dropped, savings rose, and 185,000 women left agricultural jobs for more reliable, higher-paying positions in business or retail (Suri and Jack, 2016). Research in Bangladesh suggests that digital wage payments help factory workers stimulate the use of formal financial products and improve their ability to manage financial emergencies (Breza and others, 2017).

54. Governments should target efforts to improve financial literacy of women. Togo’s government-to-person program—Novissi—targeted women and was introduced clearly and simply via advertisements and social media (Prady and others, 2020). Integrating technology into financial education programs is also a useful method to provide financial information. For example, Colombia’s LISTA program provided shared tablets allowing women participants to spend time with the financial training application on the devices, and thus improved women’s financial knowledge, which persisted for at least two years (Attanasio and others, 2016). Additionally, many participants of the LISTA program demonstrated improved financial decision-making, such as reduced reliance on cash and higher savings in banks.

55. Policymakers could promote alternative sources of collateral and new ways of building credit histories. Several countries have laws that create gender gaps in access to collateral and credit (World Bank, 2021). Even women who can access credit experience, on average, less favorable loan conditions than men (Chamboko and others, 2018). Policymakers can enable the development of digital financial services, which would allow the private sector to create nontraditional information-based credit records for women (e.g., phone/utility payments). For instance, in Nigeria, the fintech firm Lidya uses alternative data sources to make loan decisions and disburse loans to small and medium enterprises within 24 hours (Peterson, 2019). In India, fintech startups use Fitbit-like gadgets to collect real-time data on cows’ health to predict productivity and measure female farmers’ credit eligibility (Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, 2020).

56. Eliminating biases against women in financial staffing and lending decisions would support greater female financial inclusion. Research published by International Finance Corporation (IFC) suggests that bank customers trust female employees more than male employees (Harten and Rusu, 2016). Evidence from India suggests that women use financial services more often when they are served by female bank employees. Additionally, loans monitored and issued by female officers contain a significantly lower probability of default than loans managed by male loan officers (Beck and others, 2018).

57. Greater representation of women in leadership positions of bank boards and banking-supervision boards could support greater financial resilience and bank stability (Sahay and Čihák, 2018). Policies that remove conscious or unconscious bias against women, boost the overall labor supply of women, and support better work-life balance could help narrow gender gaps in leadership positions. The EU government has called for actively recruiting qualified women to replace outgoing male board members (European Commission, 2012).

58. Collecting sex-disaggregated financial data and conducting policy-related research can inform policy development and the design of financial products (Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, 2020). Collecting these data could also generate insights on the effectiveness of policies and identify impediments to women’s financial inclusion. Such data can also be used by financial service providers to track the advantages of employing more women, such as higher customer retention rates and higher transaction volumes (UNCDF, 2016). In addition, developing appropriate and affordable financial products for women benefits from sex-disaggregated data collection and analysis. One possible method for governments to incentivize financial institutions would be to require sex-disaggregated data as part of the fiduciary reporting process. For example, Nigeria disaggregates data collected from financial services providers by gender to identify barriers to demand for financial services and products (Women's World Banking, 2016).

59. Basel Committee guidance can inform on a proportionate regulatory and supervisory approach to supervised institutions. Recognizing the benefits of financial inclusion for financial stability, the Basel Committee has issued detailed guidance for prudential supervisors on the application of the 2012 Basel Core Principles, commensurate with the systemic importance and risk profile of supervised institutions. This guidance reflects the need for proportionate risk-based regulation and supervision of small and non-complex institutions striving to serve unserved and underserved customers, which are more often women than men and who typically engage in small transactions. Given the broad landscape of financial service providers, this guidance can be useful not only to prudential supervisors, but also to payment overseers, other authorities engaged in the regulation and supervision of non-bank financial institutions, and telecommunications regulators and others with oversight over non-financial firms participating in innovative financial services.

C. Product and Labor Market Policies

60. Product and labor market policies play a critical role in maximizing women’s labor market potential. They can raise employment rates by incentivizing female labor force participation and stimulate labor productivity by promoting equal work opportunities. While labor market policies are key, pro-competition product market regulation also has a role to play, particularly to foster female entrepreneurship and level the playing field in career progression between men and women. The COVID-19 crisis has further strengthened the case for such gender-friendly structural reforms, given their potential for stimulating economic growth with no or little fiscal cost.

Labor Market Policies

61. Collective bargaining can help reduce gender wage gaps. On average, women negotiate (or are offered) worse wage bargains with their employers than men (Baker and others, 2019; Babcock and Laschever, 2003; Card and others, 2016; Recalde and Vesterlund, 2020). These differences in the negotiation process can contribute to gender pay gaps and disincentivize women from labor market participation. Collective bargaining contracts can mitigate gender differences in negotiation style by reducing the weight of individual workers in the arbitration process and increasing that of unions and other workers' organizations. Evidence suggests that such a shift away from the individual toward the collective reduces gender pay gaps, with only marginal effects on other workers' wages (Biasi and Sarsons, 2021; Card and others, 2004; OECD, 2020b).23

62. At the same time, poorly designed collective bargaining systems can weaken job opportunities for disadvantaged groups in the labor market, including women. IMF work has stressed that, to deliver high and stable employment, collective bargaining systems should promote both macroeconomic and microeconomic flexibility (Blanchard and others, 2013) which, in turn, typically requires strong coordination among representative bargaining parties alongside firm-level flexibility (Duval and others, 2021).

63. Transparency laws and initiatives can support workers who tend to be less aggressive during contract negotiations by providing them with more information regarding their wage prospects and other working conditions, helping to reduce gender gaps at the bargaining table (Recalde and Vesterlund, 2020). Advanced economies, including Germany, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, have recently started to adopt transparency laws.

64. Women are over-represented in low-paying jobs, and changes in the minimum wage can significantly impact the salaries of low-wage workers. Adjustments in minimum wages affect not only minimum wage workers but also other low-wage workers. Since women are over-represented in these jobs, increasing the minimum wage has been associated with reducing the gender wage gap and raising female labor force participation (Bargain and others, 2019; Di Nardo and others, 1996). As is the case with poorly designed collective bargaining systems, minimum wages that are too high can have a detrimental impact on the job opportunities of disadvantaged groups in the labor market, including less educated women—particularly in the formal sector where the minimum wage binds (Ahn and others, 2019; Hallward-Driemeier and others, 2017). This suggests a case for moderate minimum-to-median wage ratios.

65. Employment protection legislation that aims to protect workers against unfair dismissal and stabilize employment over the business cycle need to be well balanced. Overly strict employment legislation that raises the cost of firing and hiring workers reduces labor turnover—both job destruction and job creation. This tends to benefit permanent regular workers, who tend to be predominantly prime-age males, while hurting disadvantaged workers, including youth, immigrants, and women who need to move in and out of the labor market, notably due to childbearing (Ahn and others, 2019; Botero and others, 2004; García-Pérez and others, 2021; Heckman and Pages, 2004).

66. Well-designed unemployment insurance can protect workers without stifling job prospects, particularly for low-income workers and women. In emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs), more stringent employment protection legislation for regular workers has been associated with another form of labor market dualism, namely between formal and informal workers. Stringent protection for formal workers has been identified as one factor contributing to larger informal sectors (Lehman and Muravyev, 2014). This is particularly relevant for low-skilled workers and women, who are disproportionally represented in the informal sector (Malta and others, 2019a, 2019b). Unemployment insurance schemes can safeguard against the risk of income loss, allowing for employment protections to be tailored in a way that avoids fostering labor market dualism (Duval and Loungani, 2019).

67. Overly restrictive labor and product market regulations may incentivize “involuntary part time work,” constraining women’s earnings potential. Part-time work is also more likely to be detrimental to women’s empowerment when it reflects a constraint rather than a deliberate choice. While the availability of part-time or flexible work arrangements is associated with higher labor force participation by women (Figure 13) (Barbieri and others, 2019; Thévenon, 2013), the choice of part-time work may in fact be “involuntary,” reflecting a constrained response to lack of full-time jobs, labor market regulations, and other constraints (e.g., tax policy, child-care availability) (Buddelmeyer and others, 2008; Hipp and others, 2015; OECD, 2010).

Figure 13.
Figure 13.

Female Employment Rate and Share of Part-Time Female Workers

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).Note: Part-time employment is defined as people in employment (whether employees or self-employed) who usually work less than 30 hours per week in their main job. Employed people are those aged 15 and over who report that they have worked in gainful employment for at least one hour in the previous week or who had a job but were absent from work during the reference week while having a formal job attachment. This chart shows the proportion of females employed part-time among all employed persons and the proportion of females employed as a share of the working age population. For each country the data reported refers to the most recent year in which the indicators are available in the OECD Gender database (2019–20).

Product Market Policies

68. Product market deregulation can indirectly support female employment (Bassanini and Duval, 2006; Griffith and others, 2007; Fiori and others, 2012; Bouis and others, 2020; Gal and Hijzen, 2016; Piton and Rycx, 2019). For example, in countries where male employment is already high and female labor force participation is low, women provide the main labor pool through which greater labor demand from liberalized industries can be accommodated. Structural transformation toward a service-based economy underpins the growth of industries in which women have comparative advantages (Bassanini and Duval, 2006; Ngai and Petrongolo, 2017; Ostry and others, 2018; Cortes and others, forthcoming). Hence, easing regulations in services industries—where the bulk of stringent product market regulations exist—may increase the relative demand for female workers. Finally, stringent regulations that raise the costs of childcare and other household services and restrict retail shop opening hours can increase the monetary and opportunity costs of female labor market participation.

Policies to Tackle Cultural Norms and Other Barriers

69. To increase female entrepreneurship, reforms should not only make it easier to do business in general, but also adopt a more direct gender focus. Currently there is a large variation across countries in the prevalence of entrepreneurship between women and men (Figure 14). In EMDEs, entrepreneurship is a vital source of female employment, as self-employment allows for greater flexibility in adjusting hours worked to combine work with household commitments and responding to changing economic conditions. However, laws on business registration, ownership of assets, and access to credit may directly or indirectly discriminate between men and women, often placing greater economic and administrative burdens on the latter and thus discouraging participation in the formal sector (Hampel-Milagrosa, 2010).24

Figure 14.
Figure 14.

Female to Male Gap in Entrepreneurship Share of Employment

(Percentage Points)

Citation: Policy Papers 2022, 037; 10.5089/9798400216602.007.A002

Sources: OECD, and IMF staff calculations.Notes: The y-axis represents the difference in the share of entrepreneurs (self-employed with and without employees) in the employed workforce of women and men. For each country the data reported refers to the most recent year in which the indicators are available in the OECD Gender database (2017–20).

70. Cultural norms regarding gender roles may effectively hinder the equal application of laws and regulations to men and women (Hampel-Milagrosa, 2010; Das and others, 2015). In many countries, local practices penalize women’s land ownership even if formal property rights are gender neutral (Kaarhus and others, 2005; Toulmin, 2009). Although cultural norms are often long-standing and complex, numerous studies find that economic processes shape and in turn affect cultural norms regarding female employment (Fortin, 2005; Alesina and others, 2013). Field and natural experiments on the application of pro-women policies show that cultural norms can be partially shifted to empower females and promote their economic activity (Jayachandran, 2021).25

D. Policies to Address Legal Barriers26

71. Legal reforms can remove impediments to women’s economic empowerment and incentivize women to increase their participation in the economy. Between 1960 and 2010, staff estimations and World Bank data suggest that 280 legal reforms have been enacted to address gender inequalities (Gonzales and others, 2015a). A World Bank study on legal reforms over past decades points out that the wage gap narrowed where legal reform showed greater strides towards equality and increased female labor force participation (World Bank, 2021). Most of these changes involved introducing a non-discrimination clause based on gender in constitutions, guaranteeing property rights to women, and ensuring the right of a married woman to get a job and pursue a profession without male consent. Since laws can influence behavior and attitudes, legal reforms supportive of women’s economic empowerment can help shift biases against women.

72. Legal barriers to women’s economic empowerment are often found in constitutional law, family law, property law, labor law, social security, pension, and tax law. The removal of discriminatory provisions in laws, particularly those affecting citizenship and voting rights, freedom of movement, legal age to marry, heading a household, marital property regimes, divorce rights, rights to own and dispose of assets, access to credit, inheritance rights, and permission to work, can have profound consequences on women’s economic empowerment. Challenges in the implementation of legal reforms may also arise from long legislative procedures and limited state capacity. When it comes to implementation, legislative reforms may take time to show results.

73. Legal literacy, access to justice, and the enforcement of new or amended laws are all essential to reduce gender inequality. If women can access justice and their rights are appropriately enforced, this discourages gender-based discrimination. Conversely, the failure to enforce women’s rights often perpetuates inequality. Access to justice for women entails the ability to exercise the same legal rights as men to sue (including the right to bring a legal case, apply for legal aid, provide testimony, and obtain a fair trial).

74. Policies to reduce legal barriers include:

  • Establishing constitutional guarantees of equal treatment. For example, the 2014 Tunisian Constitution, unlike previous versions, guarantees equal treatment and duties under the law for all citizens, as well as the right to decent working conditions and a fair wage. It also commits to granting equal opportunities for men and women in all domains, attaining gender parity in elected assemblies, eradicating violence against women, and guaranteeing civil and political rights (election, voting, candidacy) for all citizens in accordance with the law. To increase female political participation and representation, the 2003 Rwandan Constitution enshrined the principle of equality between men and women and implemented a requirement that women should occupy at least 30 percent of positions in Parliament. Today, over 50 percent of parliamentarians and ministers are women (World Economic Forum, 2021).

  • Addressing inequities in property law. Rwanda has passed legislation to provide for equal inheritance, succession, and land rights for women, including prohibiting discrimination based on sex in matters relating to ownership and possession of property.27

  • Addressing inequities in family law. For example, the Namibian Married Persons Equality Act of 1996 granted married women equal footing with their husbands by abolishing traditional marital power given to a husband over his wife and her property. It also granted women the right to head a household, sell joint assets and administer joint property, register land, open a bank account, and allows both parents to be joint custodians and equal guardians to their children, among others. The U.S. Economic Equity Act, which was introduced in successive iterations from 1981 to 1996, created more protections for divorced and widowed women as well as established child support enforcement procedures (Seith, 2013). In Brazil, the Sinal Vermelho campaign against domestic violence became a federal law (No. 14/188, of July 28, 2021) that impacts more than 10 million people and resulted in over 15 states and the Federal District enacting related state laws.

  • Addressing inequities in labor law. In 2021, the Indian government enacted an expansive worker protection program that requires equal wages for men and women and includes provisions for childcare at work sites. In March 2017, India enacted a federal law mandating that all employers offer twenty-six weeks of paid maternity leave. Rwanda has enacted laws to establish equal working conditions and equal wages. In addition, legislation provides for specific rights and benefits related to childbearing, including maternity leave, maternity pay, guarantee of employment after maternity leave, and facilities for pregnant and breastfeeding women. With this supportive legal framework, it is not surprising that Rwanda has one of the highest rates of female participation in the labor force (at 84 percent) compared to the global average of around 47 percent.28 According to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2020 Report, Saudi Arabia has exhibited the most progress toward gender equality since 2017. While reforms were enacted in six out of the eight indicators covered by the WBL 2020 index, significant improvements to working conditions resulted from advances on issues of mobility, sexual harassment, pensions, and workplace rights.

  • Establishing equal pay for equal work. Iceland adopted the Equal Pay Standard in 2018, under which companies are required to adopt wage management systems that transparently establish job criteria and wages for clearly defined positions, without regard to the gender of the person in the position. Companies must obtain certification from third-party auditors to prove compliance and renew it every three years. If an employer does not get certified, it faces financial penalty. Under Iceland’s parental leave policy, which was effective beginning in January 2021, the independent right of each parent will be six months, with parents allowed to transfer six weeks between each other. Therefore, one parent can take parental leave for up to seven and a half months and the other for four and a half months. The dedicated non-transferable leave to each parent allows for greater sharing of early childhood and household responsibilities. The 2021 Women, Business, and the Law report points out that the United Arab Emirates is first in the Middle East and North Africa region to have paid parental leave.

  • Addressing anti-discrimination at work. An example is the Philippines’ Anti Sexual Harassment Law 2019 which strengthened measures to prevent gender-based discrimination and protection from gender and sexual harassment at work.

Section V: Collaboration with External Partners and Engagement with other Stakeholders29

This section provides an overview of engagement with international organizations and other stakeholders and discusses plans for future collaboration.

A. Collaboration with the World Bank Group and Other External Partners

75. Collaboration with external partners is a key pillar of a comprehensive strategy to mainstreaming gender at the IMF. It offers a new avenue for engaging with country authorities and can help expand opportunities to develop country-specific, tailored macroeconomic analysis and policy advice. External partners have welcomed the IMF’s engagement on this topic for several reasons. First, the IMF is well-placed to conduct analysis and offer policy advice on the intersection of macroeconomics and gender, which complement the micro- and sectoral-level policy advice of other organizations. Second, the IMF’s main counterparts, ministries of finance and central banks, are pivotal in allocating resources for gender equality programs and policies. Third, the IMF has significant convening power, which can be used to spotlight gender work conducted by others.

76. Collaboration should begin with institutions where synergies to reduce gender gaps are greatest. In furthering its collaboration with the World Bank, the IMF would draw on previous collaboration (e.g., Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) and Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA)) and build on recommendations from a recent IMF Independent Evaluation Office evaluation on IMF collaboration with the World Bank on macro-structural issues.

77. Over the last five years, collaboration with the World Bank on gender issues has increased. Staff from the World Bank actively participated in a three-year IMF project, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), on a global survey of gender budgeting efforts. The Head of the World Bank Gender Unit served on the Advisory Committee, and World Bank staff authored one of the project’s working papers. IMF and World Bank staff also worked jointly on several high-profile presentations, including at the joint session for the 2020 UN Women Commission on the Status of Women, 2019 White House’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity International Exchange (together with IADB and We-Fi), and an IMF/World Bank Workshop on Engendering the Macro-Economy.

78. Plans for further collaboration are progressing. They include enhanced engagement at the country level (e.g., through pilot Country Gender Assessments), additional internal and external events, including at the Spring and Annual Meetings, and the development of a gender data hub. Over the medium term, staff could explore additional joint analytical work such as gender modeling and gender impact analysis, and on topics of interest to the IFC such as fostering gender-diverse boards and business leadership.

79. Since 2015, the IMF and UN Women have had fruitful collaboration on gender equality research, peer learning events, CD, and seminars. In 2015, UN Women staff served on the advisory board of the IMF’s global gender budgeting survey. In Ethiopia, the IMF country team co-authored a working paper with UN Women staff as an input to the bilateral surveillance discussions. AFR staff organized a three-day peer learning event with UN Women, with approximately 80 staff from various line ministries in attendance, which catalyzed demand for CD. The Lesotho country team has been drawing upon UN Women’s expertise on gender issues. UN Women and IMF staff co-authored a note on COVID-19 and gender and co-organized peer learning events on gender budgeting and gender and the pandemic.30

80. Going forward, IMF and UN Women staff plan to deepen collaboration. Initiatives discussed include: (i) joint analytical work and research; (ii) joint data curation;31 (iii) country-level technical cooperation; and (iv) CD and training. Possible joint analytical work would draw upon UN Women’s standardized policy tools to assess the gendered impacts of national fiscal stimulus responses, which has been implemented in more than 20 countries. These tools could help when designing gender-sensitive fiscal and monetary policy. There is also scope to jointly examine the links between gender-responsive budgeting and gender equality outcomes, building on past work by both institutions (such as costed needs assessments for the care economy), to identify fiscal policy options for reducing gender inequalities.32 Technical training to country authorities could be jointly delivered on identifying macro-critical areas of gender inequality, advancing policy and legal frameworks for gender budgeting, improving gender-disaggregated data collection, and monitoring progress on gender equality goals.

81. Collaboration with other external partners has also been essential to furthering the Fund’s engagement on gender and supporting member countries’ efforts to close gender gaps. Examples include:

  • Partnership with the FCDO. With the support of FCDO, staff have developed a global survey on gender budgeting (culminating in eight working papers, three high-level conferences, a publicly available toolkit, and a book) and micro-founded general equilibrium models to assess the macroeconomic, distributional, and gender impacts of macroeconomic policies and reforms (applications include Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone; and the model framework is also part of a gender course).

  • External funding for engagement with country authorities from the Gates and Hewlett Foundations and Canada. External funding from the Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation (to fund peer learning and conferences on gender budgeting) and Canada (gender strategy in São Tomé and Principe) has helped boost IMF capacity to engage with country authorities. External funding has supported CD activities and the hiring of external experts, and the Gates Foundation grant will allow for additional work on building centralized data sets and analytical tools for CD in member countries.

  • Collaboration with other agencies. Engagement with the Asian Development Bank, Commitment to Equity Institute, and other development agencies has enhanced the range and depth of IMF staff analysis and policy advice. Engagement with other stakeholders has occurred mostly at the country/regional level. Over the past few months, IMF staff have also reached out to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Commission, the IFC, and the ILO to explore possible joint research projects, seminars, and other areas of collaboration. UNICEF has expressed interest in considering social policy issues jointly with the IMF.

B. Engagement with Other External Stakeholders

82. IMF external engagement with other stakeholders on gender-related topics has raised awareness of gender work at the Fund. External engagement provides an avenue for communicating key messages of gender-related analytical papers produced by staff. It also provides an opportunity to hear from external stakeholders, such as CSOs.33 External engagements at conferences and workshops have been amplified by other dissemination channels including blogs and videos, digital platforms (imf.org and social media), media interviews, management speeches, IMF intranet content, and internal events. Gender-focused messages have primarily focused on promoting IMF analytical products (e.g., publications such as SDNs or working papers).

83. IMF Management has served as a powerful advocate for gender-related issues. During 2017–22, IMF Managing Directors engaged in more than 50 global events on gender (excluding media interviews), though “only-gender-focused” events declined since 2020 primarily due to the COVID-19 crisis.

84. The IMF website has attracted attention to the Fund’s work on gender. Visitors to the www.imf.org/gender page have increased over the past five years, with visits in 2022 (3,800 unique visitors) currently on the rise and expected to surpass 2021 views (7,200 unique visitors). Users reading gender-related blogs and content on www.imf.org have increased over the past five years (from 35,000 to 439,000 total unique visitors to-date). Videos have performed exceptionally well in terms of number of views, with one reaching over 175,000 views since 2018.

85. Going forward, the goal is to focus external and internal communications on gender messages that are integrated into the Fund’s core work—surveillance, lending, and CD—while targeting and engaging with audiences, including influencers, CSOs, regional media and non-media audiences, as well as internal staff. A redesign of the IMF gender webpage is also envisaged.

86. A strategic communications plan will be launched to enhance impact. Management, senior staff, and economists will be encouraged to engage publicly on gender issues in their respective regions and areas of expertise.

Section VI: Country Coverage Under the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy34

During the initial implementation phase, the number of countries covered depends on available resources and the development of analytical tools, among other factors. Several combinations can be envisaged of “deep dives” and “light touch” in country reports.35 This section describes the illustrative scenarios discussed in the main paper.

87. Resources and key assumptions are as follows:

  • All additional resources from the December augmentation (four FTEs) are centralized in the Gender and Inclusion Unit in SPR, and resources available to Area Departments reflect pre-augmentation allocations (two FTEs for country work on gender in area departments);

  • The FTE intensity of a deep dive and light touch focus on gender in the steady state is 0.3 and 0.1 FTEs per country respectively;

  • The FTE intensity for both deep dives and light touches is higher than in the steady state in the first year of implementation (FY23) and decreases over time, reaching the steady state intensity in FY25, as the central unit develops databases and toolkits for the analysis of gender disparities, and staff come up to speed on gender-related issues.

88. The baseline scenario—Scenario 1—envisages a gradual increase in the number of deep dives. In the baseline scenario, both deep dives and light touches are undertaken, but the number of countries undertaking deep dives increases over time as gender is gradually operationalized at the Fund. Table 1 below shows the total country coverage under these assumptions, if the share of dedicated FTEs undertaking deep dives rises from one-fourth in the first year to one-third in the second year to 40 percent in the third year.

Table 1.

Number of Countries Covered with Increasing Depth Over Time

article image

Surveillance and lending, excluding capacity development.

Owing to the need for follow-up analysis and discussions or new topic coverage, the number of countries covered in successive years could include some countries covered in prior years. This table does not prescribe how the resources are allocated in successive years between new countries covered or older ones. It simply calculates under the given assumptions the number and types of countries covered. The FTE intensity for light touches and deep dives in the steady state is assumed to be 0.1 and 0.3 FTEs per country, respectively.

89. In this scenario, it is estimated that total country coverage would increase from about 11 in the first year to about 18 in the third year.

  • Total deep dive cases would increase from 2 to 3 countries over the three years, owing to their higher FTE intensity compared to light touches.

  • Total light touch cases would increase from 9 to 15 by the third year.

90. To provide the range of countries possible, the next two scenarios present the extremes where only deep dives and light touches are considered, respectively.

91. Scenario 2 presents the extreme of all deep dives. If only deep dives are considered, country coverage would fall to about 6 in the first year, reaching about 8 by the third year.

92. Scenario 3 presents the extreme of all light touch coverage. If, on the other hand, only a light touch focus on gender is considered, country coverage would increase to about 12 in the first year, rising to about 25 by the third year. This amounts to about 2-3 countries per area department in the first year, rising to about 5 countries by the third year. However, it is to be noted that only “light touch” coverage of countries is not consistent with the vision or strategy presented in the main paper, which calls for mainstreaming gender in the Fund’s core work.

Annex I. References for Multilateral Surveillance on Gender Issues

Flagships

International Monetary Fund, 2017, Fiscal Monitor: Tackling Inequality, October 2021. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

_______, 2018, World Economic Outlook, April 2018. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

_______, 2020, World Economic Outlook, October 2020. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

_______, 2021a, World Economic Outlook, April 2021. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

_______, 2021b, Fiscal Monitor: A Fair Shot, April 2021. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Books

Kochhar, K., S. Jain-Chandra, and M. Newiak, 2017, Women, Work, and Economic Growth: Leveling the Playing Field, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Kolovich, L., 2018, Fiscal Policies and Gender Equality, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Staff Discussion Notes

Ahn, J., Z. An, J. C. Bluedorn, G. Ciminelli, Z. Koczan, D. Malacrino, D. Muhaj, and P. Neidlinger, 2019, “Work in Progress: Improving Youth Labor Market Outcomes in Emerging Market and Developing Economies,” IMF Staff Discussion Note 19/02. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Brussevich, M., E. Dabla-Norris, C. Kamunge, P. Karnane, S. Khalid, and K. Kochhar, 2018, “Gender, Technology, and the Future of Work,” IMF Staff Discussion Note 18/07. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Čihák, M., and R. Sahay, 2020, “Finance and Inequality,” Staff Discussion Note 20/01. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Elborgh-Woytek, K., M. Newiak, K. Kochhar, S. Fabrizio, K. Kpodar, P. Wingender, B. Clements, and G. Schwartz, 2013, “Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity,” Staff Discussion Note 13/10. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Fabrizio, S., A. Fruttero, D. Gurara, L. Kolovich, V. Malta, M. Tavares, and N. Tchelishvili, 2020, “Women in the Labor Force: The Role of Fiscal Policies,” IMF Staff Discussion Note 20/03. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Gonzales, C., S. Jain-Chandra, K. Kochhar, and M. Newiak, 2015, “Fair Play: More Equal Laws Boost Female Labor Force Participation,” Staff Discussion Note 15/02. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Gonzales, C., S. Jain-Chandra, K. Kochhar, M. Newiak, and T. Zeinullayev, 2015, “Catalyst for Change: Empowering Women and Tackling Income Inequality,” IMF Staff Discussion Note 15/20, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Khera, P., S. Ogawa, R. Sahay, and M. Vasishth, 2022, forthcoming, “Women and Fintech: Are Gender Gaps Closing?” IMF Staff Discussion Note. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Ostry, J. D., Jorge Alvarez, R. A. Espinoza, and C. Papageorgiou, 2018, "Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion; New Mechanisms, New Evidence," IMF Staff Discussion Note 18/06. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Sahay, R., M. Čihák, P. N’Diaye, A. Barajas, S. Mitra, A. Kyobe, Y. N. Mooi, and S. R. Yousefi, 2015, “Financial Inclusion: Can It Meet Multiple Macroeconomic Goals?” IMF Staff Discussion Note 15/17. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Sahay R., and M. Čihák, 2018, "Women in Finance: A Case for Closing Gaps," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 18/05. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Departmental Papers, Policy Papers and Others

Christiansen, L., H. Lin, J. Pereira, P. Topalova, and R. Turk, 2016, “Unlocking Female Employment Potential in Europe: Drivers and Benefits,” IMF Departmental Paper. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Espinosa-Vega, M., K. Shirono, H. C. Villanova, E. Chhabra, B. Das, and Y. Fan, 2020, “Measuring Financial Access: 10 Years of the IMF Financial Access Survey,” IMF Departmental Paper 20/08. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Fabrizio, S., L. Kolovich, and M. Newiak, 2018, “Pursuing Women’s Economic Empowerment,” IMF Policy Papers. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

International Monetary Fund, 2017, “Gender Budgeting in G7 Countries,” IMF Policy Papers. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Sahay, R., U. Eriksson von Allmen, A. Lahreche, P. Khera, S. Ogawa, M. Bazarbash, and K. Beaton, 2020, “The Promise of Fintech: Financial Inclusion in the Post COVID-19 Era,” IMF Departmental Paper 20/09. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

Annex II. Country Coverage of Gender Topics, 2015–21

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