Since the World Bank and International Monetary Fund introduced PRSPs as a prerequisite for borrowing by its poorest and transition country clients, they have become de facto national plans with budgets. To achieve their poverty reduction targets, PRSPs must address the gender dimensions of poverty including promoting women’s rights and commit to other gender responsive interventions. Unengendered PRSPs implicitly reinforce unequal gender patterns that hinder development. This audit of the 13 PRSPs produced during 2002 demonstrates that 3 PRSPs address gender issues commendably if not completely (Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia). Another 8 PRSPs spottily apply an outdated Women in Development approach, defining gender issues as reproductive health, girls’ education and a few other issues that vary by country. The remaining two PRSPs almost neglect gender. Only two PRSPs promote women’s rights (Malawi, Rwanda). No PRSPs engender structural adjustment measures like trade liberalization and privatisation. Most PRSPs state women are included in their participatory consultations but none break down the numbers of men and women consulted or indicate whether their surveys included gender related questions. Few PRSP data are sex-disaggregated. Rwanda’s is the only PRSP that tries to engender expenditures wherever possible. The analysis also found that the majority of Joint Staff Assessments that accompany PRSPs to the Bank and Fund Boards contain superficial gender analyses.
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