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ADB Promotes Gender Equality in Developing Member Countries

  • Project Name: Trade Finance Program Gender Initiative
  • Region/Country: All Developing Member Countries
  • Sector and Themes: Finance
  • Year: 2013–2020
  • Project Leaders: Steven Beck, Can Sutken, Nana Khurodze, Keiko Nowacka, and Amanda Satterly
Mutual Trust Bank Limited won the Gender Champion Award, which recognizes efforts to promote gender equity, at the 2018 TFP Awards in Singapore. The annual awards ceremony recognized 23 leading partner banks from 15 countries.

We need to recognize those who are making real changes to further equity in the workplace and encourage others to follow suit.

—Can Sutken, Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program relationship manager, ADB

Development challenge

According to research by ADB, in Asia and the Pacific there is unmet demand for financial backing of $1.5 trillion in trade finance. Women-owned firms fare the worst, with 44% of requests for financial backing needs rejected. Women also continue to have an unequal share in senior management in the public and private sectors. Unless impediments to women’s labor force participation and promotion opportunities are removed, the region will not realize its full potential. Closing the gender gap in leadership can lead to better business and financial outcomes.


The Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program (TSCFP) Gender Initiative, co-funded by ADB and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will result in more financial inclusion and support for individual women and women entrepreneurs. Nineteen of the trade finance partner banks in eight countries—Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Samoa, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam—participated in phase 1 of the initiative by offering their human resource policies for analysis. In phase 2, a further 19 banks signed up and 5 banks are expected to implement the suggestions to attract, retain, and promote more women in banking. The TSCFP is also working to support banks in implementing the more challenging recommendations, like establishing grievance procedures and remedies around gender issues in the workplace, and equal pay. The third phase of the initiative will include activities for TSCFP partner banks: online training on gender-related topics, face-to-face training on eliminating gender bias, assistance to help banks develop gender-focused products, and assistance to selected banks with their efforts to achieve the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality certification.

Knowledge products and services delivered

The initiative supported the development of the ADB Private Sector and Gender Equity Thematic Group’s first knowledge product, Boosting Gender Equality Through ADB Trade Finance Partnerships. The aim of the initiative was to enable the participants to adopt and advance practical gender- and diversity-inclusive human resources policies and practices to increase the employment, retention, and progression of women within the workplace.

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Impact and results

The project raised awareness of gender equality and surpassed its initial goal of having 8 banks implement at least one recommendation, with the implementation of 12 recommendations by 19 banks. TSCFP also collaborated with the ADB Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department on the TSCFP’s Gender Champion Award.

Lessons for Replication

To implement such a project in the future, support of women-led businesses should be the prime focus. Similar projects should anticipate a differing level of response, capability, and capacity among banks to implement recommendations to continue their gender equality journey.

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Women from Prime Bank Limited. The bank won the Best Green Deal Award (Issuing Bank) and Gender Champion Awards.

These measures have resulted in skill enhancements, boosting (women’s) confidence to climb the career ladder and to continue excelling without giving in to societal barriers, stereotypes, and prejudices. Winning the Gender Champion Award will further inspire us to make new strides in gender equality and environmental sustainability.

—Rahel Ahmed, managing director and chief executive officer, Prime Bank, Bangladesh
#WomenEmpowerment #Feminism #GenderEquality #Pakistan #Bangladesh #Kazakhstan #Mongolia #Myanmar #Samoa #Uzbekistan #VietNam
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