Every year the European Investment Bank (EIB) invites civil society stakeholders to explain what it is doing and how decisions are made. The 2018 Seminar between Civil Society and the EIB’s Board of Directors took place in Luxemburg on 5 of February. This year the focus was put on two areas “Sustainable cities: towards a low-carbon future” and “Gender in operations: financing women’s economic empowerment”.
For our Foundation the seminar was the occasion to claim for better banking facilities and tailored financial services to respond to the needs of female-led enterprises. Access to funding and lack of financial literacy are some of the major challenges that have been detected in the discussions which were held with female entrepreneurs in Algeria and Libya with the technical support of our Foundation. To enhance the impact of their businesses, research suggests that women need to be better informed on investment possibilities and to have access to safe transport and care infrastructures in order to conciliate their commercial activities and their family life. Hence the importance for the EIB to take into account gender in all its transactions.
The panel dedicated to gender equality was composed of experts and speakers from the European Women’s Lobby, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Women’s World Banking and CITI. The session raised many burning issues such as:
- Austerity policies affect women in priority (in the EU and beyond, example was taken in Ukraine), this is why economic policies must take into account gender, otherwise they will create and reinforce gender inequalities (in the last years EU countries haven’t progressed or have gone backwards in terms of pay gap, pension gaps…).
- Financial institutions need to use gender disaggregated data and apply gender performance indicators to boost investments in women as leaders and job creators, not merely as customers.
- Investments are never gender neutral (safe transport, access to lands, conflicts and armaments…). Unfortunately women’s voices are absent from financial investments and business’ leadership and management. Banks like EIB could become at the forefront to ensure that women are at the top and that EIB’s projects and investments do not infringe women’s rights inside and outside the EU.
The EIB’s President, Mr Werner Hoyer, and its Vice president, Mr Alexander Stubb, acknowledged that gender inequality is persistent in corporate governance (all its 9 board members are male). Both committed to push the gender equality agenda forward through implementing the EIB group’s Gender action plan. However they did not mention the amount of resources that will be dedicated to implement it. EIB plan forecasts to raise the staff’s capacity to analyse their operations with a gender focus and to prevent and mitigate the potential negative gender impact of their investments. Another pillar will be dedicated to identify investment opportunities that increase women’s participation in the labour force.
The EIB’s willingness to fund projects and develop banking products that can improve women’s access to the market and to paid work is an opportunity to develop partnerships with CSOs. Civil society actors have access to grass root knowledge on women’s situation and gender gaps in the fields of micro finance, social impact facilities, digitalization of SMEs, etc. hence they play an important role in monitoring that public and private institutions make gender sensitive investments.
To access publications related to this news see our “Field diagnosis: For the inclusion of local actors in the promotion of female entrepreneurship" and our publication “Building an inclusive economy in Libya”.
Other publications on women in business are available in our Documentary Center.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 “Strengthening the capacities of equality actors” of the Priority Solidarity Fund “Women for the future in the Mediterranean” funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women’s Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.