It is fitting that we use today to reflect on the European Investment Bank’s new Strategy on Gender Equality and Women's Economic Empowerment: 8 March is International Women’s Day. Adopted at the beginning of this year, the strategy complements the bank’s existing social policy and reflects the equality principle of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In spite of positive elements the EBRD's Draft Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality is unclear or appears to lack consistency in some parts. More importantly, the EBRD's failure to take a rights-based approach to gender equality has resulted in a limited vision of gender equality of economic opportunity “as a key tool” for promoting efficient market transition. By making the business case for gender equality this approach may ensure stronger ownership of the Strategy by the bank, but it is a missed opportunity for aligning the Strategy with the bank's unique Sustainable Development mandate. Without a persuasive presentation of the EBRD's strategic approach to safeguarding gender rights, the draft of the Strategy lacks justification for choosing to promote women while refusing to protect them.
To illustrate its readiness to help Arab Spring countries, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development draws on the Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan pipeline project as a positive example. Having closely followed the project, Manana Kochladze outlines why people in north Africa should be wary of what’s to come when the EBRD enters their countries.