Gender in the MDB Social Protection Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic



Recent work by the CGD researchers through the COVID-19 Gender and Development Initiative suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women particularly severely, disproportionately affecting their paid and unpaid work, income, and food security, while also exacerbating the risk of gender-based violence. In response to the pandemic, multilateral development banks (MDBs) rapidly expanded their financing across a range of areas, including health and social protection, but little is known regarding whether new operations have been designed to address the crisis’ disproportionate impacts on women. This note builds upon previous CGD research to examine how MDB operations in response to COVID-19 have considered gender differences in their design, and how that design has evolved across institutions, with a particular focus on social protection measures in lower-income countries. We focus our analysis on social protection projects, recognizing this as the primary policy lever of choice by governments and supporting donor institutions as they sought to mitigate the risks of rising poverty and food insecurity in the COVID-19 context, as well as a critical component of policy packages capable of promoting an inclusive recovery. Similar analyses could also be undertaken for projects related to broader economic development, health, education, or other sectors.