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In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Cindy Huang is co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy and a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. She works on issues related to refugees and displacement, fragile and conflict-affected states, gender equality, and development effectiveness. Previously, Huang was deputy vice president for sector operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation where she led the strategic direction and technical oversight of a $2 billion portfolio of social sector investments. She also served in the Obama Administration as director of policy of the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and as senior advisor to the State Department’s counselor and chief of staff. In her latter role, Huang managed the interagency leadership team of Feed the Future, a presidential initiative launched by a $3.5 billion, three-year commitment to agricultural development and food security. Huang has also worked for Doctors Without Borders and the Human Development Center in Pakistan. She has a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, an MPA from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a BA in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University.
Earlier this week, CGD co-hosted a candid conversation with Devex on gender equality in the workplace, encouraged development organizations to look inward and consider changes in our own practices, and highlighted persistent gender gaps in the sector. It was just a first step in what will be a longer journey for CGD and all development organizations to prioritize and realize the promises of equality and diversity.
Research shows that pursuing policies that promote diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but will also improve the quality and impact of our work. Building on the conversation we hosted, here are five ideas that development organizations (including our own) should consider to help ensure we live our values and maximize our impact. As a starting point, we offer ideas focused on promoting gender equality, while recognizing that sexism is not the only challenge we must face. As Angela Bruce-Raeburn underscores, racism is a core issue for development and humanitarian aid and is inseparable from sexism:
Abuse, bad behavior, exploitation, and sexual misconduct are the result of a system that is owned and managed by white men who have no need to be accountable.
Real progress and transformation will require commitments that take an intersectional approach to addressing power relations inherent in class, sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and health status, both in the workplace and in the places development organizations operate.
Here are five ideas as food for thought and action:
1. Commit to 50/50 targets
Committing to diversity and equality starts with the hiring pipeline. Hiring, investing in, and retaining diverse talent up and down the management chain requires a concrete commitment to achieve parity. To reach diversity and inclusion targets, we must extend beyond our traditional networks to ensure a diverse pool of candidates. Recruiting women may also take greater engagement, recognizing that women are less likely to put their hat in the ring. An internal Hewlett-Packard report, cited in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, found that women will only apply for a job if they feel 100 percent qualified, whereas men will apply if they meet only 60 percent qualified. Recently the World Bank, UN, and WHO have demonstrated that concerted effort to increase women in leadership can yield results. Women comprise 45 percent, 50 percent, and 60 percent of their senior leadership teams, respectively.
Commiting to a recruiting and hiring process that ultimately results in a diverse group of employees is only the beginning. In order to retain and promote staff, organizations and its leaders should enact and actively promote policies that promote equality and inclusion in the workplace, like equal maternity and paternity leave (and encouraging men to take the leave they are granted) and greater flexibility (not working less, but working different hours or teleworking). The motherhood penalty is tangible for both hiring and wages, and may be even greater in development where travel is often an important part of the job. Organizations can look for ways to facilitate work and life, for example by enabling women (and men) to take their children on travel, whether for conferences or fieldwork. This matters not just for retaining talent, but for changing the norm on what successful leadership looks like.
2. Consider progress on gender equality as criterion for funding decisions
Some private investors, like CalPERS, are considering board diversity as a factor in their investment decisions. They see the bottom line benefits of investing in companies with boards that are more likely to avoid “group think” and brings diverse experience and skills. Likewise, funders have the potential to play a big role in advancing gender equality in development organizations. By considering progress towards targets for gender equity and inclusion as part of investment criteria, funders can push development organizations to adopt policies and practices that promote equality. For example, some foundations ask for organizations to report their diversity statistics, including breakdowns by gender and ethnicity, but what if one factor in funding decisions was around meeting targets for increasing gender diversity in boards and management? Given the connection between diversity of voices and potential impact, there’s a clear case to be made for consideration of gender in investment decisions (with gender as not the only important criterion, but an important place to start).
3. Encourage and equip staff to check their implicit biases
It is important, both as organizations and individuals, to strive to recognize and respond to implicit and explicit gender biases. Beyond taking the implicit association test (which everyone should do), there are potential tools that researchers and practitioners can use to check themselves. For example, we can utilize software that analyzes citations by gender; think about concrete positives and negatives when evaluating performance (versus relying on “gut feelings”); and amplify women’s voices at meetings, events and in the media. These strategies are important because, as Alice Evans points out in her viral #Sausagefest post, it’s too easy to fall into the default of venerating and deferring to men, and especially white men. Knowing that we all have implicit biases (including those who are discriminated against), we should aim to have open and honest conversations with our colleagues about equality in the workplace.
4. Establish an ombudsperson and a community for them
The #MeToo movement has underscored the inadequacy of processes to report and address sexual harassment and assault across industries. These structures are built on outdated legal mechanisms for avoiding employee harassment and retaliation. For example, anonymous harassment hotlines in workplaces are largely underpublicized, ineffective, and underutilized. The reality is that formal reporting is the least common strategy victims of sexual harassment pursue, fearful of a wide array of consequences--namely, retaliation, blame, and reputational damage. About three out of four victims of harassment never discuss their experience with a superior. It is the responsibility of an organization’s leadership to prioritize handling these issues as a fundamental component of workplace culture. A task force assembled by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commision found that workplace culture has “the greatest impact on allowing harassment to flourish, or conversely, in preventing harassment.”
Providing employees with multiple channels to report sexual or discriminatory behavior can help mitigate the well-founded fears associated with directly reporting a colleague to a superior or human resources officer. Appointing an ombudsperson to serve as an independent, neutral, and confidential ally for victims can an effective strategy to ensure inappropriate behavior is reported and that all employees have a designated contact that they can voice concerns with. Development organizations can join together to create a community or association of ombudspersons to share lessons and generate ideas.
5. Launch a peer review process
Programmatic trainings, certifications, and standards geared towards the awareness and promotion of gender equality and inclusivity are important tools for prioritizing and instilling these values in workplace culture, but it is imperative that these tools are used to drive organizational and cultural change. The learning and progress achieved through these certification processes must be routinely evaluated and engaged at the organization’s highest levels. One idea to strengthen the impact of certifications is to create a peer review system (like the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s process where donor members evaluate each other’s development effectiveness). Creating mutual accountability among organizations can help drive faster progress and changes across the sector. The peer review process could include a core set of metrics that allows for transparent reporting and comparison among development organizations.
These are just some of the great suggestions raised at the event. Many of these ideas can and should be expanded or adapted to increase diversity along other dimensions, which must be part of the conversation today on International Women’s Day and beyond. We are at our best when diverse voices are at the table, included and empowered.
The Center for Global Development and Oxfam are hosting a discussion on the Politics of Pro-Worker Reforms with author Alice Evans. Alice will present her paper on the drivers of pro-worker reforms in Vietnam, including how rich countries can use the tools of trade and aid to support workers’ rights, social activism, and decent pay. Specifically, she examines the relative roles of the Better Work program and US demands for labor reform during negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in encouraging Vietnamese labor market reforms. The paper can be found here, and a blog summary here.
Many organizations working on development champion women’s empowerment and equality as a core goal. But behind the scenes, how are these organizations living these values and what can they do better? On March 6, the Center for Global Development and Devex will host an event highlighting practical ways organizations can live up to their promises for a gender-equal workplace.
Last week, a UN official said that the recent violence against Rohingya has “the hallmarks of a genocide,” underscoring why the plan to repatriate refugees to Myanmar is shockingly premature. While it is far too soon to discuss returns, it is the right time to plan for the longer-term wellbeing of refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar, a district of about 2.3 million people, is now hosting 900,000 Rohingya, more than 688,000 of whom have arrived since August 2017.
The refugee compacts model—deployed in Jordan and Lebanon now, and soon Ethiopia—offers a promising way forward. Compact agreements bring together the host government, donors, and the international community to develop multi-year commitments aimed at fostering inclusive growth and opportunity for refugees and host communities. As in the Jordan Compact, a key component should be policy reforms, such as the ability for refugees to work, own businesses, and attend school; in turn, these reforms enable refugees to become economic contributors to their host countries.
This CGD policy note argues that Bangladesh and its partners should explore the compact model and consider the inclusion of three ideas that would yield the level of ambition necessary to generate a sustainable response: European Union (EU) trade concessions, migrant worker opportunities, and partnership with China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
1. Expanding Bangladesh’s trade preferences with the European Union
Bangladesh is set to lose trade preferences with the EU and other countries when it graduates from least developed country (LDC) status. More than half of Bangladesh’s exports went to the EU in 2016, about 90 percent of which was textiles and clothing. Upon graduation from EU and other trade preferences, Bangladesh’s export revenue could decline by well over an estimated 5 percent. A compact could extend preferences, bringing significant benefits to Bangladesh without affecting the EU’s fiscal situation. Another potential opportunity that could have more immediate impact is further relaxing rules of origin in emerging sectors such as pharmaceuticals and agri-processing.
2. Increasing opportunities for Bangladeshi migrant workers
A compact could break new ground by including provisions for greater numbers of Bangladeshi migrant workers in the Gulf and Southeast Asia. Raising quotas could help meet labor demand and increase earning opportunities for Bangladeshis—and potentially for refugees as well. Labor migration is a fundamental component of Bangladesh’s economy: in 2015, remittances accounted for about 8 percent of GDP, the second-largest source of foreign income after garment exports. But given the exploitation and abuse that migrant workers experience, any compact should simultaneously seek to strengthen protections for workers. By participating in a compact, Gulf states could strengthen their nascent role in refugee response, building on their contributions to the Syrian crisis and initial support to Rohingya refugees, on mutually beneficial terms.
3. Partnering with China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
Bangladesh is an important strategic and economic partner for China. More than a third of Bangladesh’s imports come from China—and more importantly, Bangladesh is a critical link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). One of the six BRI economic corridors would connect Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, and China, including the construction of a new port in Bangladesh. The Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is playing an important complementary role, including financing energy projects. Given the reality of protracted displacement, China has an incentive to invest in a solution that promotes inclusive growth and stability in Bangladesh. China could enhance current trade preferences by granting zero tariffs to a greater proportion of Bangladeshi products. It could also accelerate or expand BRI and AIIB projects in Bangladesh and include provisions for Rohingya employment in their implementation.
Although refugees can become economic contributors with supportive policies and investments, the politics can be very difficult. A compact can offer a path forward by creating a package of new and substantial development opportunities for Bangladeshi citizens and Rohingya refugees.
Businesses have unique opportunities to help refugees and improve their bottom line at the same time, says CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang. All they need is the right policy framework. Get the highlights from Huang’s latest report, Global Business and Refugee Crises, a collaboration with the Tent Foundation.
The Trump administration's signature policy proposal to control immigration more tightly has been the most contentious issue of the early days of this presidency. In this podcast we seek to add some facts to the debate.
The US has a unique opportunity to lead in improving economic opportunities for women and girls by establishing a global vision and a corresponding fund with significant financial resources to spur change. The next US administration should allocate at least $1 billion in additional resources—equal to a little over two percent of current US overseas assistance—exclusively dedicated to advancing gender equality in developing countries, with a specific focus on improving women’s and girls’ economic opportunities and outcomes.
Attention presidential transition teams: the Rethinking US Development Policy team at the Center for Global Development strongly urges you to include these three big ideas in your first year budget submission to Congress and pursue these three smart reforms during your first year.
Today, an unprecedented 65 million people—including 21 million refugees—are displaced from their homes. Still, as this report points out, the challenge is manageable—if the international community is able to get its response right. This report offers key principles for closing the humanitarian-development divide and practical guidance for designing effective compacts. We encourage policymakers and implementers alike to carefully consider these recommendations to ensure that humanitarian and development dollars have a real impact on the lives of refugees and host communities.
More than 21 million people around the world are living as refugees. Three-quarters of those do not live in refugee camps, but in urban communities, profoundly altering the social fabric of cities in major host countries. Currently their survival depends on both regular outside assistance from humanitarian agencies and host country governments, and their own support structures such as social network ties. With the average duration of refugee status now more than ten years, this is often an unsustainable solution. Please join the Center for Global Development, in collaboration with the Urban Institute, as we explore how urban refugees can play a greater role in local economies, become more self-reliant and less dependent on outside assistance. What might help them integrate more with host communities? What is the role of social and economic networks?
The upcoming Summit will provide an important opportunity to discuss the significant financing gap ($15.5 billion per year according to one report) and important issues like transparency and effectiveness. But it will be a missed opportunity unless leaders agree upon concrete plans to address the new realities of displacement. Here are three areas where we’d like to see some progress.
Improve coordination and division of labor between humanitarian and development efforts.
Refugees want to provide for their families and find pathways to self-reliance. Finding these solutions will require both a division of labor and greater coordination between humanitarian and development efforts. A recent study found that livelihoods programs for refugees were predominately run by humanitarian actors, and lacked adequate market linkages, scale, time horizons, and technical support. Rather than stretch humanitarian capacity even further, such programs should leverage existing development policy frameworks, programming, and expertise.
Improved planning and coordination is also required at the city and national levels. For example, when refugees living in urban areas lack clean water, the refugee response must be integrated with broader plans for the city and national water systems. And, to educate hundreds of thousands of children dispersed throughout cities, local systems need more resources and support. Where possible, host countries and donors should integrate refugee services into their national and subnational development plans. At a minimum, humanitarian and development actors should work with host countries to conduct joint needs assessments and planning exercises.
Expand development financing and policy engagement.
The World Bank has provided $200 million in financing to Jordan and Lebanon at low rates usually reserved for the poorest countries and launched a New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region, partnering with the United Nations and Islamic Development Bank Group. These are important steps given the magnitude of the Syrian crisis, but there is a risk that special initiatives may obscure the need for systemic change. The crisis presents an opportunity to consider how best to channel existing and new financing to meet the longer-term needs of refugees and their host communities around the world.
Further, it will be critical that financing discussions do not overshadow technical and political discussions about changes in laws, policies and regulations that must be part of more sustainable solutions, such as work permits and access to financial services for refugees as well as sector reforms. There should also be increased flexibility in the use of funds, including more cash assistance to refugees. When supplies and services are available in the market, providing cash reduces inefficiencies and overhead and gives refugees choices about meeting the needs of their family. One evaluation of a cash transfer program in Lebanon found that every dollar spent generated more than $2 in local market activity – a notable developmental impact. While we focus on refugees here, many of these measures could help the 38.2 million internally displaced persons as well.
Share responsibility more between host nations and the global community – and think creatively!
New financing and more effective, coordinated approaches in host nations do not reduce the international community’s obligation to welcome more refugees. Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, and Jordan host more than 50 percent of all refugees worldwide. Without a broader agreement on shared responsibility, host nations will have little reason to change their own approaches and instead continue to rely on international appeals and short-term responses. A new agreement must include faster processing and greater resettlement numbers, and not only expanded offers of temporary protection.
We also need more creative methods for facilitating resettlement and helping countries’ realize the economic boon that refugees can bring. For example, CGD colleagues Theo Talbot, Hannah Postel, and Owen Barder have suggested the creation of a humanitarian investment fund. Under this scheme, each refugee would have an endowment that is given to host countries to offset temporary resettlement costs, and then in return, host countries would provide refugees the right to work and access to public services. Expanded private sponsorship models could assist in supplementing government-led financing. And CGD Senior Fellow Michael Clemens’ innovative Global Skill Partnerships proposal, which calls for agreements between employers and/or governments and training centers in countries of origin, could be applied to refugees.
Like most global conferences, the World Humanitarian Summit will not meet the expectations of all of its stakeholders. Médecins Sans Frontières announced it will not participate, citing the Summit’s focus on incorporating “humanitarian assistance into a broader development and resilience agenda” instead of vital access and protection issues. Their critique will be justified if talk of development, reducing risk, and ending need becomes a way to double count efforts or avoid confronting serious violations of international humanitarian law and refugee rights. But if the Summit can concretely advance development-oriented solutions as one critical component of responding to today’s humanitarian landscape, it will have made an important contribution.
Happy New Year, and welcome to 2018 from all of us at CGD.
Here at CGD, we’re always working on new ideas to stay on top of the rapidly changing global development landscape. Whether it’s examining new technologies with the potential to alleviate poverty, presenting innovative ways to finance global health, assessing changing leadership at international institutions, or working to maximize results in resource-constrained environments, CGD’s experts are at the forefront of practical policy solutions to reduce global poverty and inequality.
Watch our video to hear from our experts directly, and get an in-depth look below at their thoughts on the 2018 global development landscape:
The role of international cooperation
“We’re in a difficult time for development policy. People feel as if we’re in competition with the developing world, and I think we have to get back to recognizing that we have shared problems that we need to solve together. The premise of international development cooperation—now rightly enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals—is that we are in this together: we all benefit from shared prosperity, openness, trade, security, values, rights, and justice. We are in danger of seeing the world as zero sum—in which improvements in some parts of the world are wrongly believed to be at the expense of success elsewhere. If we allow this idea to take root, it will undermine support for development cooperation, and take us in directions that erode global cooperation and the institutions that protect and sustain our shared security and prosperity.”
The effect of transitioning away from aid: asking the right questions
“I think 2018 is going to have to be about countries transitioning away from aid, and as a result it’s going to have to be about how we invest limited resources to get the best return for that investment. What happens to social spending commitments towards global health priority areas such as vaccinations and infectious diseases, as Ministries of Finance are increasingly asked to allocate their own domestic resources to replace diminishing donor funds? How do national health insurance funds procure pharmaceutical products and other health commodities as LMICs leave purchasing clubs such as Gavi and GFATM whilst having to deal with the growing burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer? How can technological and organisational innovation address the gap left by departing global purchasing arrangements?
What are the role and responsibilities of norm setting agencies such as the WHO in shaping resource allocation at national level as countries commit to and implement universal coverage for their populations? When are aspirational targets as the ones set through standard treatment guidelines, disease specific norms or the Essential Medicines List, justified and when do they distort local spending priorities and aggravate inequalities?”
New leadership, limited funding: an opportunity for global health aid
“In 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing economists more deeply embedded in all things global health. First, Peter Sands takes the helm as new executive director at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria where the focus needs to be value for money—more impact, more rigorously measured, for the same or less money. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s also a requirement for a portion of future DFID funding. To get this done, better economics should be deployed to inform resource allocation within programs, implement rigorous performance verification and evaluation approaches, and select most cost-effective diagnostics, drugs, and devices for purchase.
Second, at the World Health Organization (WHO), newly elected Dr. Tedros is finalizing his General Program of Work, a 2019-2023 plan that governs the rest of his tenure as Director-General. Faced with many demands and conflicting priorities from its member countries, WHO leadership could benefit from a chief economist (more on this here and here). The goal? To help prioritize demands amid scarce funding, to promote value for money in all policies, and to make the critical link with ministries of finance.
Third, with US tax reform passed, global health aid—like the rest of discretionary spending in the US budget—may face cuts, despite bipartisan support. In the UK, there’s also an uncertain outlook. It’s a clear case of ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst.’ And that’s where the dismal science can contribute: planning for these uncertainties and contingencies, and maybe finding some opportunities for efficiencies along the way. Look to recent work on aid transitions, priority-setting, domestic resource mobilization, innovative financing, value for money, fiscal policies for health, financing global public goods, and our forthcoming work on rationalizing future global health procurement should provide some fodder for policymakers to consider.”
“In 2018, I’m very much looking forward to continuing to explore China’s emergence as a leading development actor. Increasingly, this will mean defining a leading role on international policy commensurate with China's role as a leading development financier globally. In settings like Davos and institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, Chinese officials will inevitably be more prominent in 2018 and will just as inevitably come under increasing pressure to align Chinese policy on issues like sustainable lending with international norms. All of this will likely occur against a backdrop of US retrenchment in these multilateral fora.”
“I’m really excited about the relationship between technology and development, and to begin to examine how we can master the challenges that come with integrating a set of powerful new technologies and ensuring that they deliver the best options for poor people everywhere. Technological innovation has been a driving force of development and this continues to be the case. The current revolution in digital technology, big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence holds enormous promise to deliver development services more effectively and efficiently. However, these forces will need to be harnessed to ensure that the benefits flow to all segments of society in the developing world and the ‘losers’ from this transition are supported in ways that are economically, socially, and politically sustainable. This is a fertile and urgent area for conceptual and empirical research to underpin better policymaking by developing country leaders and the international community.”
“In 2018, I’m excited about expanding our research on the policies that will most effectively help refugees and migrants integrate into their host communities. At a challenging time for migrants and refugees, we are focused on analyzing and generating solutions that can simultaneously advance outcomes for refugees, migrants, and host communities. One of our main projects will highlight policies and programs that benefit sending and receiving communities, as well as emerging innovations such as the Global Skill Partnership. Building on our work on refugee compacts, we'll expand our work on how to achieve impact with new financing mechanisms that support developing countries, which host 86 percent of the world's refugees, to deliver services to refugees and citizens. A key part of this will be research on how to increase refugees' access to labor markets and more deeply engage the private sector, so refugees can become self-reliant by finding jobs and starting businesses—and spurring local markets in the process.
Latin America’s elections: choosing the right leadership to restore peace and prosperity
“In 2018, we will witness a huge cycle of presidential elections in Latin America. My big hope for the year is that the citizenship chooses the right leadership to be able to face the upcoming challenges. The recent elections in Chile (December) and Honduras (November) will be followed by six Presidential elections in 2018: Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Paraguay and, potentially, Venezuela. This highly charged electoral cycle comes at a time when populations’ discontent with the results of democracy is on the rise as reported by the reputable poll Latinobarometro. This change in attitude follows the significant deterioration in Latin America’s economic and institutional quality indicators in recent years, reflecting both the end of the period of super high prices of commodities exported by the region and the outburst of corruption and crime in many countries. In this environment, the risk of electing populist (notably in Mexico) or authoritarian leaders (notably in Brazil) is high. Populism and authoritarianism are not strange to Latin American history and their disastrous results on economic and social prosperity are extensively documented (with Venezuela’s recent experience being the latest example). The incoming elections will test whether Latin Americans can avoid repeating the painful mistakes of the past and will choose governments able and willing to put in place the needed reforms to restore economic growth and sustainably enforce the rule of law.”
“In 2018, what I would like to see is the gender gap in financial services reduced. The gender gap in financial services is stuck at a 7 percent gap globally and a 9 percent gap in developing economies. According to the latest data, while the number of bank account holders has increased globally between 2011 and 2014, the gender gap has not shrunk. In 2018 we can do better. So far, a lot more attention has been paid to particular constraints women face in accessing financial services, than to what women actually want from financial products. Focusing on women potential clients as a distinct market segment is a first step. Second, in addition to “know your customer requirements,” the industry should have “know your bank standards” as well, and examine potential gender biases, explicit and implicit, in the delivery of financial services. Banks should examine and correct internal gender biases. Encouraging signs include the commitment of development agencies (including an 8-agency gender data partnership coordinated by Data2X and GBA) and some banks to invest in data, both supply and demand-side, and in testing innovative financial products and delivery systems to increase women’s access to financial services (including experimental evaluation work we at CGD and partners are completing this year). These and other partnerships should help shrink the gap in the short term, especially if large private sector banks globally also act.”