In financing Infrastructure for Tomorrow, AIIB values gender equality and equity in project design and implementation.
One important principle in building infrastructure is that different segments of the population may have differing needs and use infrastructure differently, depending on their social roles and economic status. Thus, while infrastructure can enhance women’s livelihoods and well-being, it can also have a major impact on their access to resources and ability to be economically active. In particular, women remain disproportionately affected by inadequate infrastructure. Lack of access to water and electricity, for example, result in women and girls spending significant amounts of time on domestic chores, diverting them for pursuing education and income.
Further, infrastructure is traditionally a male-dominated sector, leaving women little or no voice in investment decisions that affect their economic opportunities, day-to-day lives, and well-being. Women are frequently marginalized during the identification, design and implementation of infrastructure projects and services and thus may benefit unequally from infrastructure projects.
AIIB believes that the financing and provision of infrastructure should incorporate principles of inclusive�ness to avoid creating real barriers for segments of the population and preventing them from effectively participating in the economy, and thus avoid contributing to suboptimal economic and social outcomes. Incorporating gender as a consideration is a key step toward making AIIB‘s investments inclusive and sustainable. By doing so, there is an opportunity to improve outcomes as AIIB can maximize, both directly and indirectly, the impacts and benefits of its investments. Reducing gender gaps would also result in direct contributions to improving the economic situation in a particular area. It also makes good business sense for the client and/or sponsor, both in terms of revenue generation and beneficial diversity in skills and for decision making.
AIIB’s Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) recognizes the importance of gender equality for successful and sustainable development. Provisions of the ESF, Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) and the Environmental and Social Standards (ESS) require clients to both develop mitigation measures to avoid or reduce gender disproportionate impacts as well as to identify potential gender-specific opportunities that will enhance the inclusive and gender-responsive aspects of the project design so as to promote equality of opportunity and women’s socio-economic empowerment. Furthermore, AIIB’s Corporate Strategy reflects a commitment to promote inclusive infrastructure and gender equality in various sector strategies. AIIB has already undertaken some work to understand where there are the greatest gender gaps in terms of access to infrastructure.
To build on its current policy framework, AIIB will be developing a gender equality approach over 2023 for more inclusive infrastructure that is suitable for AIIB’s mandate, strategy, and business model, and builds on operational realities and client engagement in core sectors. The approach will be:
- systematic, clear and transparent that will guide and provide tools to staff and clients at the project level.
- focused on AIIB core sectors, building experience, being evidence-based and on best practices, and making an impact.
- impactful and focused on women’s access to the services and products financed by AIIB and their participation in decision making over time.
The key principles in moving forward toward an operational approach for gender will:
- recognize that AIIB is still in the process of building and expanding its client base and operational knowledge and portfolio;
- differentiate depending on need, with some projects focusing on gender during the preparation phase (e.g., adapting design, employment) and others during the implementation and operational phases (e.g., identifying employment opportunities, decision making roles);
- be evidence-based and learn by doing, and from peers and from focused studies;
- Be realistic considering AIIB’s business model, recognizing that many gender-related challenges are often rooted in country-level issues (e.g., design codes, labor market regulations); and
- avoid undue additional complexity and ambiguity in the project cycle.