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Nancy Lee is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her work at CGD focuses on the role of development banks in mobilizing private finance and increasing development impact. Previously, she was the deputy chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an innovative, independent US aid agency that fights poverty through country compacts that support inclusive growth. Key MCC attributes are rigorous country selection, country ownership of compacts, data-driven resource allocation, results accountability, and transparency.
Prior to joining MCC, Dr. Lee was the general manager (CEO) of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Bank’s laboratory for private sector-led development and a key impact investor in the region. Under Dr. Lee's leadership, the MIF launched initiatives in lending to women-owned SMEs; a public-private partnership to scale youth job training programs; a program to introduce social impact bonds to the region; innovative climate finance models; and a crowdsourcing platform for development solutions.
Previously, Dr. Lee served at the US Treasury Department, where she was deputy assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere and for Europe and Eurasia. She led Treasury’s work to put financial inclusion, SME finance, and women’s access to finance on the G20 agenda. She co-chaired the G20 SME Finance Group and led the development of the G20 SME Finance Challenge and the SME Finance Innovation Fund. She was a Treasury negotiator in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. Dr. Lee is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and holds a PhD and an MA in economics from Tufts University and a BA in economics from Wellesley College.
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Development banks are largely committed to gender equity, but have room for growth.
WASHINGTON, DC – Development finance institutions are working to integrate gender equity into their development finance to the private sector, but most don’t set targets or publish data to track their progress, a new survey from CGD’s Nancy Lee, Megan O’Donnell, and Kelsey Ross finds.
The Gender Equity in Development Finance survey examines the degree to which DFIs prioritize a focus on gender equity and women’s empowerment, both in their external investments and internal diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The survey findings are based on data provided by 16 DFIs, including a broad range of multilateral and bilateral institutions of diverse sizes, ages, and geographic areas of operations.
Both the internal and external survey sections confirmed DFIs are showing a strong commitment to gender equality, both inside and outside their organizations, but that there is significant room for progress. The researchers found that:
Nearly all (14/16) DFIs have an external gender strategy, but half (8/16) do not set targets for measuring their implementation.
14/16 also have a dedicated gender lead and team, but most (10/16) do not publish gender-disaggregated results data.
On the internal level, most seek more gender balance in recruitment and promotions, but most DFIs do not require training for staff on gender lens investing (13/16) and unconscious bias (11/14).
Most (12/14) DFIs measure gender pay gaps within their institutions, but only 3/14 publish that data.
On average, just 31 percent of board members and 33 percent of DFI senior managers are women.
“DFIs are focusing more on gender in their internal and external processes, but most aren't publishing the data or setting the targets to measure whether that's making a difference in results,” co-author Nancy Lee, senior policy fellow at CGD and former general manager (CEO) of the Multilateral Investment Fund (now the IDB Lab) at the Inter-American Development Bank, says. “Measurable, public goals are key to making development finance more equitable.”
“Development finance is going to be key to help build back post-pandemic, and women are already being disproportionately affected,” said co-author Megan O’Donnell, the assistant director of CGD’s gender program and a senior policy analyst. “We commend the steps that have been taken at DFIs already – and note that more must be done to ensure that early commitments by DFIs translate into concrete benefits for women.”
It is time to take a fresh look at the PSWs and to ask some basic questions about their role and instruments. The aim of this essay is to raise issues that need to be addressed as we think about how PSWs should evolve and adapt to meet the formidable challenges ahead. These questions and the answers gained through careful research can help chart the right course and set the right expectations for MDB PSWs, DFIs, and impact investors generally.
The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President shows how modest changes in U.S. policies could greatly improve the lives of poor people in developing countries, thus fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity globally and at home. Center for Global Development experts offer fresh perspectives and practical advice on trade policy, migration, foreign aid, climate change and more. In an introductory essay, CGD President Nancy Birdsall explains why and how the next U.S. president must lead in the creation of a better, safer world.
On April 11, the World Bank's International Development Association broke new ground by establishing a private sector window (PSW) with $2.5 billion in resources. For the first time, IDA will use public funds to catalyze private investments in poor countries, in addition to concessional lending to their governments.
The global financial crisis and economic slowdown are subjecting poor countries to increased financial, price, and output volatility. How can the multilateral development banks help? A new CGD brief by visiting fellow Nancy Lee, non-resident fellow Guillermo Perry, and CGD president Nancy Birdsall makes the case for a broad range of new and expanded activities to help developing countries manage risk.