Home   The Feminist Institute   Main Issues   Service   Networks   Forum
Forum » Summer School
    Summer School 2007


Engendering Economic Policies in a Globalizing World  |  July 27th - August 4th in Washington 

Logo Heinrich Böll Foundation

Die fünfte Summer School der Heinrich Boell Stiftung fand vom 27. Juli bis 4. August 2007 zu dem Thema „Engendering Economic Policies in a Globalizing World: A Closer Look at International Financial Institutions“in Washington D.C. statt. Im Fokus stand die kritische Analyse der Auswirkungen der Politik der Internationalen Finanzinstitutionen (Weltbank, Internationaler Währungsfonds sowie der Multilateralen Entwicklungsbanken) aus einer Genderperspektive. Ein Ziel war hierbei, gemeinsame Strategien zu entwickeln, die Politik der Internationalen Finanzinstitutionen mit Blick auf weltweite Armutsreduzierung und Geschlechtergerechtigkeit nachhaltig zu beeinflussen.

Download der ausführlichen Ausschreibung >> PDF Download
Dokumentation Summer School 2007 >> "Gender, Macroeconomics and the IFIs"

The fifth Summer School of the Heinrich Boell Foundation on „Engendering Economic Policies in a Globalizing World“ took place from July 27th to August 4th, 2007 in Washington, DC.  It was focused on a critical analysis of the gender implications of the International Financial Institutions’ policies and projects. In this context, one of its aims was to raise awareness and to built capacity to develop joint strategies to affect the policies and projects of the International Financial Institutions with regard to its focus on poverty reduction and a commitment to gender equality and gender mainstreaming.

Detailed announcement with draft program >> PDF Download
Documentation Summer School 2007 >> "Gender, Macroeconomics and the IFIs"

For information on the fourth Summer School in 2005 on "Liberalization, Agriculture and Food Security" see: [Summer School 2005]


The Summer School 2007 aims at building a basic understanding for and a realistic assessment of the political and economic role of the international financial institutions in the era of globalization as well as provide participants with some capacity to understand the impact of macroeconomic policies advocated or mandated by the IFIs for countries and their societies.  It will focus especially on the relevance of the two Bretton Wood Institutions, IMF and World Bank, and their decision makers, both on the national and international level, for influencing the development path a country can choose.  

More importantly, it will highlight the obvious gender-unawareness of the IFIs in the pursuit of their macroeconomic policies and dispel the myth of the supposed gender neutrality of these policies.  It will analyze the linkages between macroeconomic policies and microeconomic structures, in particular women’s livelihoods using the concepts and tools of feminist economics. 

In addition, one of the main goals of the Summer School 2007 is to encourage the discussion and development of advocacy strategies on behalf of more gender-inclusive and pro-poor macroeconomic policies at the IFIs.  Participants should be enabled to direct such future advocacy both directly at the institutions and at national governments.  Further, the program is to provide networking tools and opportunities regionally and globally among civil society activists concerned with the policies of the IFIs.

<< top


Economic policies are no longer made within national contexts. Globalization implies that financial, monetary and trade policies are shaped and increasingly formulated in international institutions (World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Multilateral Development Banks) with far-reaching consequences for regional and local governments and for civil society. The neoliberal forms of globalization invoke new governance mechanisms that have differential impacts across the social spectrum, i.e., relative to class formation as well as gender relations. Partly at issue therefore is the degree to which the competitive pressures of the new global market order tend to fragment human communities, increase social inequality and intensify human insecurities.

Globalization has impacted upon gender relations in complex and contradictory ways, and gender inequalities are fundamentally shaping the global political economy.  The world market is based on an increasing international division of labor, but also on the gendered division of labor. Women are specifically affected by economic and other crisis situations, since they are the main care providers in the households and communities while they lack livelihood rights, even as the gender bias in the allocation of resources persists.  The liberalization of trade relations has also increased the “feminization of the labor force”, such that more women are income earners but at the same time more jobs are precarious, informal and without social protection.  Likewise, the economic reforms of Structural Adjustment Programs of the past 20 years have forced women to take on the added social caring burden that resulted from cutting social expenditures and programs by many highly indebted poor countries as mandated by the IMF and the World Bank. 

Women have been active in campaigning for global economic justice and gender equality. They have taken the initiative in exploring new theoretical and empirical ways of engendering macroeconomic and international trade and finance policies, and have analyzed the implications for specific macroeconomic policy questions within democratic governance frameworks. Despite this work and engagement, a large gap continues to exist between government commitments of the Beijing Platform of Action, which was ratified by 189 governments at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, and the “silencing” of gender issues in the agendas of the WTO, the World Bank and IMF, which these same countries set as members, raising the question of a lack of policy coherence on gender-equity.

<< top

 Focus on the International Financial Institution 

In 1944, an international UN conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (USA) established – in large part at the political urging of the United States of America – a system of international monetary management, which was to set the rules of commercial and financial interactions and relations among independent nation-states.  Central to this system, which was to prevent global economic downturns such as during the Great Depression of the late 1920s and help in post-war reconstruction with an initial focus on war-torn Europe, was the establishment of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), now one of five institutions in the World Bank Group, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  These organizations, the so called Bretton Woods Institutions, became operational in 1946 after a sufficient number of countries had ratified the agreement.

Founded originally as part of the United Nations system and which their focus on financial and monetary stability (IMF) and poverty alleviation (World Bank) respectively, these institutions over the course of the past 60 years have grown to be the most powerful public creditors in the world, taking on a gatekeeper and signaling function for all development-related aid and support, be it bilateral, private sector or multilateral.  Especially the poorest countries of the world depend on the IMF and World Bank for financial liquidity (to offset balance-of-payment problems and to repay or renegotiate debts). Low-income borrowing countries since the early 1980s have been required to follow a formulaistic set of neoliberal economic reform policies, initially known as structural adjustment programs (SAPs).  These policies, which came to be known as “The Washington Consensus” mandated tight macroeconomic and fiscal policy reforms including decreased government spending, tightening of money supply to curb inflation, a reduced public sector, privatization of state-owned enterprises and liberaled trade, thus greatly restricting and limiting the policy space of developing countries in formulating their individual path to development. While somewhat reformulated and adjusted over the past several years, the basic premises of these policy mandates are still at the core of the policy advise and capacity building in trade, public sector management (including health care and education), institutional governance, tax and fiscal policy that the IMF and World Bank staff provide on a daily basis.

Critics maintain that contrary to the stated aim of reducing poverty and increasing stability through economic growth, the economic policy mandates of IMF and World Bank policies have largely harmed and further impoverished hundreds of million of people around the world, most of them women –  while failing to deliver the economic growth (especially in Sub-Sahara Africa and Latin America) needed to alleviate poverty and growing inequalities worldwide. Although the Asian continent is usually cast as a success story of IMF and World Bank reform policies, many observers are convinced that strong economic growth there over the past two decades resulted from a willful ignorance rather than faithful acceptance of IMF and World Bank mandates by strong governments following their own path to development and carefully sequencing needed reforms at their own speed.

Despite being usually cast in gender-neutral and beneficial terms, standard World Bank and IMF policy mandates for the poor developing countries impact the poorest people the most, although men and women differently. Since the neoliberal economic model on which the IFIs growth projections and policy mandates are based does not recognize women’s unpaid, yet substantial labor in the home, the agricultural and the informal sector, many IMF and World Bank policies have actually increased and worsened gender inequality – and the feminization of poverty - in developing countries. 

The burden of public health expenditure cutbacks in developing countries is overwhelmingly borne by women who have to care at home for sick family members and thus reduce their time available for paid work; this is especially a burden in many developing countries ravaged by HIV/Aids. At the same time, the introduction of “user fees” prices health services out of the reach of many poor people. Public sector and enterprise restructuring, as for example mandated by the IMF and the World Bank after the fall of the Iron Curtain in the former Sowjet Union and in Eastern Europe, eliminates many jobs and benefits with women being often the first to be fired and the last to be rehired because they are assumed to be only secondary breadwinners. Unreciprocated developing country import tariff reductions, so-called “autonomous liberalization”, threaten the livelihood of manufacturing sector workers in the poorest countries  –many of whom are women, especially in sectors such as electronics or garments. In the agriculture sector, where the majority of women in developing countries still work as subsistence farmers, export-oriented agricultural production, as mandated through structural adjustment programs, and subsidized agricultural dumping by the industrialized countries threaten food security and local markets.  Likewise, the introduction of value-added-tax or consumption taxes in many developing countries as mandated by the IFIs affects poor consumers, a majority of them women, disproportionately. These are just some of the examples that indicate how macroeconomic structures and policies, perpetuated and promoted by the IFIs, have an effect on microeconomic conditions and gendered rights, access to resources, labor and livelihoods.

While most critical observers of the IFIs from civil society organizations worldwide have long concluded that the IFI-approach to development is not delivering the hoped-for benefits, those critics – and the international movement of IFI-watchers – are split on the remedies. Some, including many groups in the Global South, have given up hope that the IMF and the World Bank can be satisfactorily reformed and are calling for an abolition of the Bretton Woods Institutions. Others are still optimistic that reform of the IFIs is possible and see incremental change happening through continued and consistent civil society engagement with the institutions. Finally, after many critical observers have addressed their demand for change directly with the institutions in the past decades, more recently campaigns all over the world are focusing on national governments, particularly in the North, as the real decision-makers behind misguided IFI policies. 

The main focus of all this criticism – whether directed at the institutions, the national member governments, the broader world opinion or affected communities on the ground – is ultimately what these advocates see as a misdirected development-approach of the IFIs that focuses on narrowly defined economic growth to the detriment of a wider concept of sustainable human development.  They demand a human development approach that puts human rights – to livelihood, access to resources and also gender equity – at the core of the IFI loans, projects and policy recommendations and would force the institutions to be more accountable and transparent.

Since the 1970s, pioneering feminist economists have highlighted the contributions of women’s unpaid labor to the economy.  They highlighted how unequal power relations and the gender division of labor translate into different impacts of development and reforms on women and men. More recent work by feminist economists has focused on macroeconomic policies and the effects of globalization on income distribution and gender inequality, including IMF and World Bank mandated structural adjustment policies. They are among the critics of the so-called gender neutral neo-classical economic models of the IFIs and have conceptualized gender-sensitive macroeconomic models

The Summer School will take a closer look at these approaches and models and will analyze and discuss what IFI policies and projects that follow these gender-aware theoretical foundations will have to look like. It will also discuss and analyze how effective the concept of gendermainstreaming can be at the IFIs in the current economic thinking. Ultimately, the hope is that a broader knowledge and understanding of new economic gender-sensitive macroeconomic concepts can help in influencing not only institutional operations but also member countries’ policies and policy contributions on the Bretton Woods Institutions – especially by the industrialized countries which hold the largest influence and voting power in the IMF and the World Bank.

<< top

 Objectives of the Summer School 2007 on International Financial Institutions


Capacity building on the policies and projects of the International Financial Institutions, their importance in the current global governance system, and the effects of their macroeconomic policy advice and mandates from a gender perspective,


Understanding of linkages between macroeconomic and microeconomic systems, between international monetary, financial and trade policies as set and overseen by the International Financial Institutions, and national policies and the livelihoods, labor and resource rights of women, using feminist economic concepts,


Envisioning a feminist concept of macroeconomic policy which links sustainable economic growth, a country’s right to its own path of development, social equity and gender justice toward an alternative to the neoliberal model of fiscal austerity and export- and foreign investment-led growth and which breaks the dominance of the IFIs in determining the “right” development path for emerging market and developing countries


Enhancing global and regional alliances and networking between HBF-partners, feminist economists, experts, like-minded policy makers, and grassroot activists in their struggle to reform the IFIs toward greater democratic accountability, greater social justice and gender awareness.


Enhancing the capacity of these alliances and networks, as well as of the individual participants to intervene with and lobby the governments of individual member countries of the IFIs on behalf of more gender-inclusive and pro-poor alternative macroeconomic policies at the national level so as to inform these countries’ contribution in IFI decision making.


Bridging the gap between economic theory and political practice with regard to macroeconomics and financial, monetary and trade policies, as well as with respect to incorporating and considering gender justice and gender democracy through an effort at coordinating strategies directed at the global, regional, national and local level.

<< top


The program consists mainly of lectures and panel presentations and workshops, organized on a regional or sector basis.  Some off-site visits (to the World Bank and the IMF, possibly to the US Department of Treasury with sets American policy-priorities for the IFIs) are planned.  Participants will be connected to civil society representatives from the Washington area currently critically engaging the IFIs.  The lectures and panel discussions will provide a general introduction to the IFIs and their global role, a short introduction to the basic vision of a gender-aware macroeconomic theory, contrast the vision with the actual outcomes of the macroeconomic neoliberal model the IFIs employ (which negatively and disproportionately affect women in developing countries), and will look for ways how to make the IFIs and their policies more gender-aware and publicly (and legally) gender-accountable through advocacy and campaigning by civil society.

Where useful, and in order to strengthen, supplement and practically apply information learned in the plenary, workshops will be offered.  They will serve to exchange information on the effects of IFI policies and projects in respective regions and sectors, will provide space for participants to assess and connect their prior knowledge on IFIs and their impact on their country to other regional experiences and will give them room to network and strategize for possible joint and/or follow-up activities.

The Summer School 2007 will take place during a one-week period from July 27th (arrival) to August 4th (departure) with around 45 participants from different regions of the world.

For the detailed program see [Program Summer School 2007]

<< top


Participants are expected to come from different regions of the world, with different political and academic backgrounds, and various work experiences, including from NGOs, universities, or public institutions.  Interested participants, women and men, will be selected according to geographic regions, their capacity to act as a multiplier of knowledge in their respective country and region, and some prior knowledge of or at a minimum proved interest in macroeconomic policy issues (specifically trade and financial global issues) and/or sector policies as they relate to the IFIs (e.g. privatization policies, water, energy, infrastructure, health and education policies, and gender dimensions of these policies).

Participants will be expected to each pay a course fee of US$ 150 to offset some of the costs for the organization of the Summer School. The Summer School and its teaching sessions and side visits, the materials for the Summer School, accommodation (in double-bed rooms), as well as food, local transportation and a basic health insurance valid for the stay in the United States will be covered by HBF. Participants are generally expected to pay for their own travel to the United States. However, some fellowships to cover travel expenses and visa fees are available on special requests.
Participants of the Summer School 2005 in Berlin

Conference language will be English only.  All teaching materials and preparatory documents will likewise be in English only.  No translation will be provided.

For details on criteria and elegibility please see the application form above or the following document: >> PDF Download

<<  top


If you fulfill the criteria for participation in this program and feel that you and your organization will profit from capacity-building on these issues, please submit your application, including the filled-out attached application form.  Please use the attached application form and send it – together with a detailed CV - by email as soon as possible to summerschool@boell.de.  Deadline for the applications is February 28, 2007.  Please note that we will only consider complete applications received in due time.

The final decision on participants selected rests with the organizing Heinrich Boell Foundations in Berlin and Washington, DC, but will take into account recommendations and endorsements by the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s regional offices. 

The Summer School Coordinators will decide on the applications by March 31, 2007. All applicants will be informed individually by email of the outcome of the selection process as soon as possible. Successful applicants will be asked to confirm their participation within 14 days after receiving the notification of acceptance for the program; otherwise they will forfeit their place in the program  which will then be offered to other applicants on a waiting list..

Application form as >> PDF Download

<<  top


Please address your request for further information or any Summer School related inquiries to the following E-Mail address ONLY: summerschool@boell.de

The Summer School 2007 is jointly organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Berlin and its office in Washington, DC under the auspices of Liane Schalatek, Associate Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation North America, in Washington, DC.

In Germany:
Heinrich Boell Foundation,
Rosenthaler Str. 40/ 41
10178 Berlin
Fax: 0049-30-28534-302
[Heinrich Böll Stiftung]
In the United States:
Heinrich Boell Foundation North America
1638 R Street, NW, Suite 120
Washington, DC 2009
Fax: 001-202-462-5230
[Heinrich Boell Foundation Washington]

<<  top

 Heinrich Boell Foundation

The Heinrich Boell Foundation, affiliated with the Green Party and headquartered in the heart of Berlin, is a German non-profit, legally independent political foundation working in the spirit of intellectual openness. It was founded in 1997 by uniting three pre-existing foundations that were intellectually close to the German Green movement, namely Buntstift (Göttingen), Frauen-Anstiftung (Hamburg), and Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung (Cologne).

The Foundation’s primary objective is to support political education both within Germany and abroad, thus promoting democratic involvement, socio-political activism, and cross cultural understanding. The Foundation also provides support for art and culture, science, research, and developmental co-operation. Its activities are guided by the fundamental political values of ecology, democracy, and non-violence. The Foundation has currently 24 regional offices world-wide, the majority in developing countries, and works closely with more than 200 partner organizations in some 60 countries around the globe.

In 2003, the Foundation started a program on globalization and gender with the aim to engender macroeconomic policies. The Summer Schools are one important element of this program.  The first Summer School took place in Summer 2003 in Berlin and focused on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) within the World Trade Organization (WTO); the second (regional) one took place in October 2004 in Johannesburg and was on the international trade regime; a third one with a focus on agricultural trade was organized in September 2005 in Berlin; and the fourth (regional) Summer School on macroeconomics, trade agreements, and regional integration took place in Santiago de Chile in  November 2006.


<<  top


Aktualisiert: 20.06.2008, klz