Gender justice: the World Bank’s new approach to the poor?

Gender inequality is now widely acknowledged as an important factor in the spread and entrenchment of poverty. This article examines the World Development Report 2000/01 as the World Bank’s blueprint for addressing poverty in the twenty-first century along with several more recent Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) with a view to analysing the manner in which gender is incorporated into the policy-making process and whether it constitutes a new approach to gender and poverty. It is argued that World Bank’s approach to poverty is unlikely to deliver gender justice because there remain large discrepancies between the economic and social policies it prescribes. More specifically, it is contended that the Bank employs an integrationist approach that encapsulates gender issues within existing development paradigms without attempting to transform an overall development agenda whose ultimate objective is economic growth as opposed to equity. Case studies from Cambodia and Vietnam are used to illustrate these arguments.