Gender and the IMF

Last Updated: March 8, 2023

About Gender and Economics

Despite significant progress in recent decades, labor markets across the world remain divided along gender lines. Female labor force participation has remained lower than male participation, gender wage gaps are high, and women are overrepresented in the informal sector and among the poor. In many countries, legal restrictions persist which constrain women from developing their full economic potential.

While equality between men and women is in itself an important development goal, women's economic participation is also a part of the growth and stability equation. In rapidly aging economies, higher female labor force participation can boost growth by mitigating the impact of a shrinking workforce. Better opportunities for women can also contribute to broader economic development in developing economies, for instance through higher levels of school enrollment for girls.

Celebrate Women (Every) Day

March 8, 2023 - Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on how well-designed economic and financial policies can benefit women, girls, and society in general. The IMF is committed to applying a gender lens to our surveillance, lending, and capacity development work.

What is the IMF's Strategy for Gender?

IMF Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender

Mainstreaming gender at the IMF starts with the recognition that reducing gender disparities goes hand-in-hand with higher economic growth, greater economic stability and resilience, and lower income inequality. At the same time, economic and financial policies can exacerbate or narrow gender disparities. Well-designed macroeconomic, structural, and financial policies can support efficient and inclusive outcomes and equitably benefit women, girls, and the society in general. The strategy lays out how the IMF can help its member countries address gender disparities in the context of carrying out its core functions—surveillance, lending, and capacity development. The strategy comprises four key pillars: first, gender-disaggregated data collection and development of modeling tools to enable staff to conduct policy analysis; second, a robust governance framework for an evenhanded approach across members based on the macro-criticality of gender; third, strengthening collaboration with external partners to benefit from knowledge sharing and peer learning, leverage complementarities, and maximize the impact on the ground; and fourth, the efficient use of resources allocated to gender by putting in place a central unit for realizing scale economies and supporting country teams.

Read the Strategy

Recent Events

High-Level Panel: Empowering Women in the Global Economy, December 13, 2022, 12:30pm ET
Empowering Women

Kristalina Georgieva, Melinda French Gates, Hon. Zainab Ahmed, and Sima Sami Bahous discuss how the IMF, governments, and others can work together to help reduce gender gaps. December 13, 2022

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Toward Peak Population

Senior Advisor on Gender joined a panel discussion on the future of global population growth, and the pressures and opportunities it presents for women and girls. November 15, 2022

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Women in Finance

Discussion on why more women are needed in the financial sector, especially in leadership positions, and how this can help with financial sector stability and inclusive growth. October 15, 2022.

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Gender Equality

"Gender Equality Boosts Economic Growth and Stability:" remarks by Gita Gopinath, IMF First Deputy Managing Director, delivered at the Korea Gender Equality Forum. September 27-28, 2022.

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Image: Courtesy of Center for Global Development (CGD)
IMF Gender Strategy

At the Center for Global Development, IMF's Ratna Sahay presented the recently approved IMF Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender, followed by a panel discussion. August 25, 2022.

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Latest Research and Publications

  • Embrace Debate

    Karnit Flug talks to F&D magazine about central bank accountability and, transparency and becoming the first woman to be governor of the Bank of Israel.

    March 2023

  • The Digital Gender Gap

    Narrowing the gender gap in leadership would foster better performance of firms in the digital financial services industry, which is critical to economic growth. Read more in F&D Magazine.

    December 2022

  • Gender Discrimination in Economics

    Gender discrimination and the associated biases and barriers to career advancement are unwelcome realities for many working women, and the economics profession is no exception. Read more in F&D Magazine.

    December 2022

  • Tackling Gender Inequality: Definitions, Trends, and Policy Designs

    This paper identifies five key issues that are important for the continued efforts to tackle gender inequality: (i) gender inequality needs to be distinguished from gender gaps. Not all gender gaps necessarily reflect gender inequality as some gender gaps are not driven by the lack of equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities by women and girls, and this has important implications on policy designs to address gender inequity.

    December 2, 2022

  • Gender Diversity In The Executive Board—Report Of The Executive Board To The Board Of Governors

    The stall in progress towards gender parity has resulted in a call for further action to reduce gender inequality, as seen in the Strategy for Mainstreaming Gender at the Fund.

    November 8, 2022

  • How to Close Gender Gaps and Grow the Global Economy

    Capturing the dividends from women’s economic equity. Too many women are locked out of economic opportunities, which is not only unfair but also harms growth and resilience for all.

    September 8, 2022

  • Legal Gender Equality as a Catalyst for Convergence

    This paper documents the evolution of gender discriminatory laws around the globe, and sheds light on the role of legal gender equality in income convergence across countries.

    July 29, 2022

  • IMF Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender

    Well-designed macroeconomic, structural, and financial policies can support efficient and inclusive outcomes and equitably benefit women, girls, and the society in general. The IMF’s first Strategy toward Mainstreaming Gender into the IMF’s core activities, lays out how the IMF can help its member countries address gender disparities in the context of carrying out its core functions—surveillance, lending, and capacity development.

    July 28, 2022

  • The New Economics of Fertility

    In just 20 years, the relationship between per capita income and fertility rates changed dramatically. Find out why and what can policymakers can do. Read more in F&D.

    July 26, 2022

  • Women in Fintech: As Leaders and Users

    While digital financial services have made access to finance easier, faster, and less costly, helping to broaden digital financial inclusion, its impact on gender gaps varies across countries. Moreover, women leaders in the fintech industry, although growing, remain scarce. This paper explores the interaction between ‘women’ and ‘fintech.’

    July 15, 2022

  • Fintech, Female Employment, and Gender Inequality

    Fintech, which delivers financial services digitally, promises to promote financial inclusion and close the gender gap. Using a novel fintech dataset for 114 economies worldwide, this paper shows that fintech adoption significantly improves female employment and reduces gender inequality, the effect being more pronounced in firms without traditional financial access.

    June 3, 2022

  • How Empowering Women Supports Economic Growth

    IMF research has consistently underscored the benefits of equality, including greater productivity and financial stability. To mark this International Women’s Day, we present a roundup of our most recent blogs, podcasts, and research on gender.

    March 7, 2022

  • Are Low-Skill Women Being Left Behind? Labor Market Evidence from the UK

    Labor markets in the UK have been characterized by markedly widening wage inequality for lowskill (non-college) women, a trend that predates the pandemic. We examine the contribution of job polarization to this trend by estimating age, period, and cohort effects for the likelihood of employment in different occupations and the wages earned therein over 2001-2019.

    February 25, 2022

  • Tackling Legal Impediments to Women’s Economic Empowerment

    This paper goes beyond previous Fund work by categorizing the key sources of laws that impede women’s economic empowerment, as well as ways in which the law can be used as a tool to create behavioral changes and shifts in perceptions of women in the economy.

    February 18, 2022

  • Gendered Taxes: The Interaction of Tax Policy with Gender Equality

    This paper provides an overview of the relation between tax policy and gender equality, covering labor, capital and wealth, as well as consumption taxes. It considers implicit and explicit gender biases and corrective taxation.

    February 4, 2022

  • How Domestic Violence is a Threat to Economic Development

    Domestic abuse is a plague on society. IMF staff research reveals how much it can hurt the economy looking at data from the region where violence against women is most rife: sub-Saharan Africa.

    November 24, 2021

  • The Heavy Economic Toll of Gender-based Violence: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

    In this paper, we explore the economic consequences of violence against women in sub-Saharan Africa using large demographic and health survey data collected pre-pandemic.

    November 19, 2021

  • Gender Budgeting in G20 Countries

    This paper takes stock of gender budgeting practices in G20 countries and benchmarks country performance using a GB index and data gathered from an IMF survey. All G20 countries have enacted gender focused fiscal policies but the public financial management tools to operationalize these policies are far less established.

    November 12, 2021

  • Epidemics, Gender, and Human Capital in Developing Countries

    In this paper, we investigate how epidemics episodes have impacted school dropouts in developing countries, considering 623 epidemics episodes across countries from 1970 to 2019.

    November 5, 2021

  • Women in Economics

    Women remain underrepresented in economics, yet many have made an outsized impact on the field. Whether it’s in working to eliminate poverty, reinventing development economics, examining social safety nets, or improving democratic institutions, Finance & Development magazine has regularly highlighted the contributions made by women economists.

    August 6, 2021

  • Gender Equality and COVID-19: Policies and Institutions for Mitigating the Crisis

    The COVID-19 crisis threatens decades of progress for women and girls. This joint note between IMF/UNDP/UN-Women calls for countries to deploy gender-responsive policies and budgeting, which will help to mitigate the short-term impacts, while also addressing long-term structural drivers of gender inequality.

    July 28, 2021

  • COVID-19: The Moms’ Emergency

    April 30, 2021

    IMF estimates confirm the outsized impact on working mothers, and on the economy as a whole. In short, within the world of work, women with young children have been among the biggest casualties of the economic lockdowns.

    April 30, 2021

  • Engendering the Recovery: Budgeting with Women in Mind

    Women have borne the economic and social brunt of the pandemic. National budgets are a powerful tool governments can bring to bear on gender inequalities.

    March 5, 2021

  • COVID-19 She-Cession: The Employment Penalty of Taking Care of Young Children

    The COVID-19 outbreak and the measures to contain the virus have caused severe disruptions to labor supply and demand worldwide. Understanding who is bearing the burden of the crisis and what drives it is crucial for designing policies going forward.

    March 4, 2021

  • Gender Equality and Inclusive Growth

    This paper considers various dimensions and sources of gender inequality and presents policies and best practices to address these. With women accounting for fifty percent of the global population, inclusive growth can only be achieved if it promotes gender equality.

    March 4, 2021

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