Thematic Evaluation on ADB Support for Gender and Development

Evaluation Document | 5 May 2017

This evaluation of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) support for gender and development (GAD) examined the relevance and results of ADB’s gender priorities at the corporate, country, and project levels during 2005–2015.

It found that ADB’s Policy on Gender and Development, 1998 led to a greater focus on the process of mainstreaming gender content in projects and less attention to specifying the broader gender results that ADB should pursue. While the number of gender-mainstreamed projects has increased in all sectors, this was driven by a notable rise in the share of projects with effective gender mainstreaming, which do not have gender outcomes in their main objective but instead aim for outputs contributing to gender equality. Support for projects with a gender equity theme—aiming for outcomes directly addressing gender equality—has declined since 2010. Gender-mainstreamed projects were most prevalent in agriculture and natural resources, education, health, and water and other urban infrastructure. There are various entry points for ADB to scale up gender mainstreaming in transport and energy projects, which accounted for over half of ADB’s total portfolio. 

The evaluation found that of the 72 projects reviewed that were approved during 2005–2015 and had  a project completion report and a gender success rating, 47 successfully delivered gender results—a 65% success rate. However, gender results at the country partnership level, as expressed in results frameworks, were not systematically monitored and reported. Eight countries were visited to conduct gender portfolio assessments—Bangladesh, Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste. The review of results in these countries indicated that projects in education, health, transport, and urban water helped promote gender equality particularly in human development, by enhancing education and health outcomes of women. 

Transport and urban water projects helped women to save the time they spent in travel and fetching clean water. There was more limited policy and institutional support to address gender-based discrimination in labor markets, combat gender-based violence, and promote gender-inclusive social protection and safety nets. This, in combination with lack of governments’ commitment, constrained ADB’s contribution to narrowing gender gaps in economic empowerment, voice and decision-making, and vulnerabilities to risks and shocks. 

Using gender diagnostics during project design, tailoring gender action plans to project-specific circumstances, and monitoring these plans are crucial lessons as ADB advances its GAD agenda. Sufficient staffing, skills, and resources are needed for ADB to improve the delivery of this agenda. As ADB prepares its new long-term strategy, Strategy 2030, the time is right to reconfirm the goals and targets of its GAD agenda.