The Imperative of Male Inclusion: How Institutional Context Influences the Policy Preferences of World Bank Gender Staff

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This paper examines the role of institutional context in shaping policy agendas through a case study of the World?s Bank?s gender lending in Ecuador. Using interviews with employees and analysis of policy texts I explore the complex institutional location of Bank gender policymakers, identifying two key constraints on their policy output: 1. the pressure to frame gender policy using appeals to productivity and efficiency, and 2. the pressure to frame gender policy as producing complementary sharing between men and women. Given that the efficiency constraint has been much debated in feminist Bank scholarship I explicate the complementarity constraint in more detail. Specifically, I argue that the institutional pressure to define gender policy through a complementary focus on couples led poor men to become hyper-visible as irresponsible partners, and as the crux of the gender policy problem. In turn Bank gender policy was focused on efforts to change them, by encouraging their loving attachment to family and willingness to do domestic labor. I see cause for concern at the dominance of these policy solutions, and I consider how to facilitate their contestation in closing.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-311
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Feminist Journal of Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007


  • World Bank, gender and development, Ecuador, masculinity, sexuality.