International activists discussed research gaps, safeguards, and new advisory position at the World Bank
On April 11th, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim met with activists from 17 countries to discuss how LGBTI individuals can fully benefit from World Bank projects and programs in light of the powerful discrimination they experience in their countries. The activists were in town for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meetings. Accompanied by World Bank Executive Directors from Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands and Chile, as well as the Bank’s Chief Economist and a cameo appearance from U2’s Bono, the President reported on the long standing requests he has received on Bank activities related to SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity).
At the meeting, Dr. Kim announced that the Bank would hire its first ever SOGI Advisor, a senior position to coordinate Bank work on SOGI and to facilitate the relationship with the SOGI community worldwide. He also announced that the Bank would fund 3 studies analyzing the cost of homophobia in Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela. The total cost of the studies is predicted to be $750,000. Dr. Kim committed to partnering with UNDP to prepare a funding proposal for a July meeting of SOGI donors in Uruguay, and to “working as hard as we can” to meet with members of the SOGI community when it travels. It was noted that the President will next visit India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Finally, the President noted the difficulty in passing a safeguard policy on SOGI at the Bank, due to strong opposition from countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait, but committed to vigorously supporting a nondiscrimination clause in the updated safeguards—set to be finalized this year—that would specifically identify the SOGI community.
The activists in the meeting expressed appreciation for Dr. Kim and the Executive Directors’ work but noted that there is a long way to go until LGBTI individuals can fully benefit from World Bank loans.
Julia Radomski, Information Services Coordinator, Bank Information Center