>@Caroline Martin/EIB
©Caroline Martin/EIB

On Monday 18 October, newly appointed Vice-President Gelsomina Vigliotti took part in her first main event in her new role. At the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society G20 Italy in Milan, she participated in a panel on “Feminist diplomacy,” an innovative means of cultivating international relations and promoting gender equality as a key guiding principle. It translates as a strong commitment to advance women's leadership and participation at negotiating tables at the international level and to advocate for the promotion of fundamental rights and gender-sensitive development assistance, peace and security.

The panel also featured Pascal Lamy, President of the Paris Peace Forum, Donia Kaouach, Director General of the Foundation Leaders for Peace, and Muriel Pénicaud, French Ambassador to the OECD. The panel moderator was Marta Dassù, Senior Advisor for European Affairs at The Aspen Institute.

Joining her fellow speakers, Vice-President Vigliotti underlined how fostering women’s vision in foreign policy conception can make a difference and what measures could ensure this change of approach, which is beneficial in terms of common security, sustainable economic growth and female entrepreneurship. “When women are present, business is better, profit is higher,” she commented.

A herstory of support for gender equality at the EIB

Supporting gender equality is at the heart of our mission at the Bank. As the bank of the EU, we support the EU’s gender action plan and Global Europe targets. During the implementation period of our first EIB Gender Action Plan, launched in 2016, we ramped up our financing for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

Going beyond the initial expectations, by the end of 2020, we had reached a total of €1.9 billion of gender lens investment. In addition, we also financed operations outside the EU that significantly contributed to gender equality in the transport, telecom, health and energy sectors for a total EIB lending amount of €1.5 billion. As the first Multilateral Development Bank to adopt the 2X Challenge Criteria in 2019, we have found them particularly effective in helping to better track our gender investments.

In 2019 we also launched our SheInvest Initiative to boost women’s economic empowerment in Africa by mobilising €1 billion of gender-responsive investments 2X compliant. Under SheInvest, in just over a year, the EIB has provided credit lines via local banks in Uganda, Senegal and Benin, that will benefit female-led small enterprises. Recently, at the EU-Africa Summit organised by French President Macron on 18 May 2021, we doubled our commitment under SheInvest to mobilise 2 billion euros of gender lens investment in Africa that are guided by the 2X criteria.

In-house, gender equity is embedded in the EIB’s 2018-2021 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which has set targets to improve the gender balance within our institution, for the good of our people and our business. In 2020, the EIB decided to undergo assessment by EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) to evaluate our policies, practices and staff perceptions related to gender in the workplace. Achieving the EDGE Assess certification was an important acknowledgement of our efforts to date. Together with EDGE, the Bank developed an Action Plan for the future, which provides us with a clear path for continuous improvement.

The EIB's Management Committee also took the proactive step last year to promote balanced gender representation in external speaking opportunities, with the endorsement of the No Diversity, No Panel initiative. The initiative seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in event panels with the goal of ensuring that a diverse and societally more representative range of voices are heard on topics of global relevance.