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IDB leadership in promotion of women's issues in Latin America

On its 40th anniversary, the Inter-American Development Bank confirmed its leadership in the promotion of women with 30 projects that included a gender perspective with excellence during 1997-1998, mainstreaming this key issue in the programs for the socio-economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean.

"I am proud to see the continuing increase in the number of Bank-financed projects that are being designed in a way that ensures the participation of women, because we can no longer think about social and economic transformation without understanding the central role that women play as heads of households, as small business owners, as teachers or as government executives," said IDB President Enrique Iglesias.

"By working to dismantle gender barriers, the Bank is helping women to take their rightful place as protagonists of their countries´ development, added Iglesias.

In 1987, the Bank established a Women in Development (WID) policy to assist member countries in the integration of women in the development process through its loan and technical cooperation programs.

To support and systematize these activities, and to identify new initiatives to benefit women, the Women in Development Unit was created in 1994.

Since then, experts from the IDB have worked with governments and civil society in identifying opportunities for women in all the areas of action of the Bank, particularly social sectors, agriculture and rural development, housing and urban development, government and democracy, support for income and productivity, social investment funds and relocation.

The Bank has also fostered women leadership and participation in civic life, nontraditional vocational training for women, reduction of domestic violence, and early childhood care and development, among others.

In 1998, the Bank carried out the first two loans for country-initiated requests specifically for projects for women´s development: support for the economic participation of women in Colombia and a federal program for women in Argentina.

During 1997-1998, thirty projects were prominent for fully integrating the gender perspective in IDB programming, with a shared effort of governments, experts, and Bank teams. These initiatives, considered of a high technical level, were summarized in the brochure "Investing in Women".

The IDB established recently the best project design award with respect to incorporation of gender. In its first rendition, for 1997-1998, a committee of high Bank officials presided over by the then chief of Learning, Eleonor Howard, selected three winning programs:

•Program to Assist Children and Adolescents at Risk (Argentina).

•Program of Comprehensive Services for Children under Six (Bolivia).

•Federal Program for women (Argentina).

The awards, presented by the IDB Executive Vice-President, K Burke Dillon, recognized the following characteristics established in the Bank´s policy for women: detailed analysis of women´s social and economic roles and activities, identification of barriers to women´s participation in the projects and inclusion of specific measures to reduce barriers, description of how women will actively participate in project implementation, and inclusion of evaluation and monitoring tools to measure whether the gender concerns are successfully implemented.

Dillon emphasized at the ceremony the importance of integrating women in all stages of the projects to reach a greater social impact and better meet the goals of poverty alleviation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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