Gender Balance in the Financial Sector

This event takes stock of the latest research on gender balance in the financial sector from: the IMF, the International Finance Corporation and the OMFIF Sustainable Policy Institute. Watch live April 28, at 9:00 AM ET.

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.

A Proposed Strategy for Mainstreaming Gender at the IMF

The IMF is preparing its first strategy to mainstream gender. Mainstreaming gender at the IMF begins with recognizing that many gender disparities are macro-critical and that economic and financial policies can exacerbate or narrow them. In addition to their own intrinsic benefits, improving women’s access to opportunities and decision-making roles goes hand-in-hand with higher economic growth, greater economic and financial stability and resilience, and lower inequality. Attention to gender has never been more urgent. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing gaps, disproportionately affecting women.

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Gender Budgeting and Gender Equality Database

Videos on Gender

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Q1. Which region had the biggest increase in women’s educational attainment over the last 20 years?

A) Asia and Pacific
B) Europe
C) Latin America


It’s the Asia and Pacific Region, where the ratio of women in secondary education surpassed Europe by 2014.

Q2. How many countries have introduced an initiative to promote women’s equality in the annual budget?

A) Fewer than 30
B) 30 – 50 countries
C) More than 50


Our new series of working papers provides information on almost 60 countries that have introduced gender budgeting.

Q3. Which of the following countries put measures into the annual budget to promote gender equality?

A) Rwanda
B) Belgium
C) Mexico


All of the above. Rwanda, in particular, integrated gender goals throughout its budget and into its public financial management system. It also put in place an effective monitoring of its progress.

#IMFGender Stories

In February 2016, the IMF launched an online campaign for innovative women to share their stories under the hashtag #IMFGender. The stories we received were powerful and inspirational. Women are using every tool possible to advance and lift-up their communities. Below are some of the inspiring stories women shared with us:

Maria Umar

Maria Umar

Pakistan— Founder and President of The Digital League

Read her story

The person. Maria is from Pakistan and is involved with capacity training in a remote northern area of Pakistan in partnership with a local NGO. In the first 2 months they have trained over 200 locals in various online work skills. In addition, Maria is an advisor to Think Global Institute, a nonprofit global business accelerator. Maria also fills the role of mentor and inspired leader.

The Initiative: Training rural Pakistani Women in micro online tasks. The organization focuses on all kinds of computer-based services such as affordable content writing, virtual assistance, Facebook/Blackberry/iPhone apps, CRM systems, CMS systems, website development, and videography to clients all over the world.

Marcela Alves

Marcela Alves

Brazil—Co-founder of Empowerit team

Read her story

The person. Marcela is a software developer at the Institute of Projects and Research of the Ceará State University in Brazil. She graduated in Computer Science in 2015, with an exchange program at Arizona State University.

The Initiative: She created an application that connects corporations with female entrepreneurs. Marcela Alves and her partner Brenda Miranda created an online tool called Empower-it. It is designed to help corporations connect with women entrepreneurs to do business with each other. The applications allow women to register their business and make the first contact based on the results of searches done through some specific filters such as sectors of industry or company certification.


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

February 25, 2022

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.

Tackling Legal Impediments to Women’s Economic Empowerment

February 18, 2022

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.

Gendered Taxes: The Interaction of Tax Policy with Gender Equality

February 4, 2022

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.

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

November 19, 2021

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.

Gender Budgeting in G20 Countries

November 12, 2021

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.

Epidemics, Gender, and Human Capital in Developing Countries

November 5, 2021

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.

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

July 28, 2021

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.

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

March 4, 2021

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.

Gender Equality and Inclusive Growth

March 4, 2021

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.

More IMF publications on gender


How Empowering Women Supports Economic Growth

March 7, 2022
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.

How Domestic Violence is a Threat to Economic Development

By Rasmane Ouedraogo and David Stenzel
November 24, 2021
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.

Women in Economics

August 6, 2021
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.

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.

Engendering the Recovery: Budgeting with Women in Mind

By Antoinette Sayeh, Jiro Honda, Carolina Renteria, Vincent Tang
March 5, 2021
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.

More IMF blogs on gender


Chrystia Freeland and Kristalina Georgieva: Budgeting for Gender Equity

May 7, 2021

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, discuss policies to help prevent the covid-19 pandemic from rolling back gains in women's economic opportunities, and how Canada has aligned its gender strategy with the budget process.

Dr. Alice Evans: Feminist Activism to Close the Gender Gap

March 4, 2021

In this podcast, Dr. Alice Evans says feminist activism thrives in societies with female mobility, economic development, and labor-intensive growth.

Kristalina Georgieva on Gender Parity: Inequalities Erode Society

November 2, 2019

IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva talks with Foreign Policy Magazine's Ravi Agrawal about breaking down barriers to women's career growth. Georgieva is the first person from an emerging market economy, and only the second woman to lead the IMF since its inception in 1944. In this podcast, Georgieva and Agrawal discuss the economic benefits of gender equality and the societal transformation that is required to correct the injustices of the past. Read the IMFBlog on The Economic Cost of Devaluing “Women’s Work”

More Women in Africa’s Labor Force Means Less Conflict

October 11, 2019

IMF economist Rasmane Ouedraogo investigates the impact of gender equality on electoral violence in Africa and finds yet another good reason to increase female labor force participation. Rasmane Ouedraogo and Idrissa Ouedraogo are coauthors of Gender Equality and Electoral Violence in Africa: Unlocking the Peacemaking Potential of Women.

Vera Songwe: Closing the Tech Gender Gap

November 16, 2018

Vera Songwe is the first woman to head the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Africa, and in this podcast, Songwe says African women are especially disadvantaged in the technology sector because they often don’t have access to the internet.

More IMF podcasts on gender


Girl Power Infographic
Women in the Labor Force : The Role of Fiscal Policies

February 16, 2020
Despite the increase in female labor force participation over the past three decades, women still do not have the same opportunities as men to participate in economic activities in most countries. The average female labor force participation rate across countries is still 20 percentage points lower than the male rate, and gender gaps in wages and access to education persist. As shown by earlier work, including by the IMF, greater gender equality boosts economic growth and leads to better development and social outcomes. Gender equality is also one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that 193 countries committed to achieve by 2030.

Women, Work, and European Economic Growth

March 7, 2016
Europe faces serious challenges to increasing future output growth. Improving women’s participation in the overall labor market and their representation in senior corporate positions is one important strategy European countries could pursue to help mitigate the projected slowdown in growth

Gender and Income Inequality

October 22, 2015
More men work than women in most countries, and they get paid more for similar work.
In many countries, girls and women have less access to education, health and finance than boys and men. Greater gender equality would benefit the economy through higher growth and lower income inequality.


Gender-balanced Leadership: Guarding Financial Stability in Crisis Times

June 10, 2020
By Antoinette Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director

Threads of Success – Empowering Women in Latin America and Around the World

March 5, 2020
By Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director