Applying a Gender Lens throughout the PPP Project Cycle

Multinational Development Banks (MDBs) as well as bilateral and national development banks and many other leading development organizations have a growing commitment to finance and support infrastructure projects and programs that incorporate gender considerations. They have developed a number of guidelines, practical tools, policies, and manuals that are based on best practice and aim to facilitate a gender-inclusive approach.

Key recommendations for integrating gender considerations in infrastructure projects and programs are the following:

1. Analyze gender gaps and impacts of the project on females and males during the project preparation and appraisal stage:

  • Collect data that is disaggregated by sex and other attributes,
  • Ensure that women and men are included from an early stage on in community communication and engagement activities;
  • and incorporate gender aspects into the various analyses and assessments undertaken.

2. Define objectives, outcomes, actions and indicators based on these assessment in a gender action plan or similar instrument and translate the results into the design of projects and programs, e.g. by designing gender-responsive policies, bidding documents and contracts;

3. Utilize meaningful performance indicators to monitor and evaluate actions designed to narrow gender gaps.

Following this approach gender commitments are increasingly integrated into PPP Legal and Regulatory
Frameworks as well as across the PPP project cycle of individual PPP projects.

1. Integrating Gender in the PPP Legal and Regulatory Framework

Gender equality and women's empowerment can be addressed in many ways in the PPP legal and regulatory framework.  The PPP legal framework consists of all laws and regulations that control whether and how PPPs can be implemented in a specific country, but also includes international standards, policy documents, guidance notes as well as a broader range of applicable laws, such as sector-specific legislation. These instruments provide guidance and set standards for the development of more gender-inclusive PPP programs and projects.  


1. International Framework

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 goals, including 169 targets adopted by world leaders in September 2015 and need to be taken into account when developing PPP frameworks and projects. Sustainable Development Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 18 December 1979 (CEDAW) has been ratified by 189 states. It includes an obligation to eliminate discrimination against women and to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. For other relevant International Conventions see United Nation Human Rights - Office of the High Commissioner: Women.

2. PPP Laws, Regulations and Policies

One way to ensure that gender considerations are taken into account when PPP projects are planned, designed, implemented and monitored is to integrate minimum standards into the respective PPP policies and legislation. Some countries have developed PPP draft policies incorporating gender standards across the PPP project cycle or included certain aspects relevant for gender equality and women’s empowerment in their PPP legal framework.

3 .PPP Procurement Legislation, Policies, Guidelines, see below. 

4. Sectoral Guidelines, Policies and Legislation

Sectoral guidelines, policies and legislation that are relevant for the development, structuring and implementation of PPP infrastructure projects relating to a specific sector (e.g. transport, water or energy projects) are increasingly incorporating a gender perspective.

  • Energy

    • Lao PDR Policy Guidelines for the Implementation of Policy on Sustainable Hydropower Development contain gender-responsive resettlement provision (Article 5.8). In order to safeguard the statutory interests of the project affected people due to resettlement and compensation cases, the hydropower project developer shall provide various reports, assessments and plans, including a gender development plan before the construction and implementation of the project to ensure that any potential negative impacts to the people and other social related impacts are mitigated. The right of all project-affected people to sustainable livelihood options and services at least at the level previously enjoyed will be recognized, and achieved through the implementation of the social management and monitoring plan. The plan will consider distributional effects of development activities and the participation of vulnerable groups, including women and ethnic minorities.

    • Uganda - Renewable Energy Policy

  • Transport

    • Action on Equality: TfL’s commitments to 2020, published by Transport for London (TfL) - Initiative to ensure gender-responsive transport planning and operation as well as a more balanced workforce, including gender-equal recruitment, increase of female applicants for apprenticeship programs, and providing mentorship to women.

5. PPP Legal and Regulatory Framework Assessment

A PPP legal and regulatory framework assessment determines if the existing framework is adequate for preparing and implementing the envisaged projects. This review presents an opportunity to integrate a gender lens and to assess whether relevant policies and legislation:

  • Contain specific requirements related to gender equality and women’s empowerment that need to be taken into account;

  • Discriminate against women directly or contain indirect biases that may hinder the project from achieving the intended results, or

  • Require additional features to ensure that PPP projects achieve better results in narrowing gender gaps.

Guidelines and Checklists for Gender in Public-Private Partnerships in Lao PDR (Draft) - The publication contains a gender-responsiveness checklist that is designed to integrate a gender perspective in the PPP legal framework assessment and to adjust laws, regulations and regulatory processes accordingly. This Legal Frameworks Checklist for Gender is based on the report Gender, Law and Policy in ADB Operations: A Toolkit, ADB 2006.

Women, Business and the Law, World Bank - The report measures legal and regulatory barriers to women’s entrepreneurship and employment in 189 economies. It provides quantitative measures of laws and regulations that facilitate or hinder gender-equality and women’s economic participation in seven areas: accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit and protecting women from violence. Links to all relevant laws and regulations organized by country and indicators are provided on the Women, Business and the Law website.

Discriminatory Laws Against Women: A Survey of the Literature, Sanchari Roy, World Bank Group 2019

Examples for legal restrictions that may disadvantage women to benefit equally from the services of PPP projects, limit the employment opportunities of women and restrict participation of women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in PPP projects are provisions that

  • require an identity card or other documentation to access services;

  • establish connection charges, registration fees, user fees, or other financial requirements to access services;

  • allocate rights or entitlements only to heads of household, landowners, full-time registered
    workers, members of particular user groups, or decision-making bodies, who are more
    likely to be men;

  • condition rights or entitlements on a certain educational level, or on basic literacy or numeracy;

  • require collateral to obtain credit;

  • allow only male relatives to inherit land;

  • allow only male household members to own and transfer land;

  • restrict married women from obtaining their own tax identification numbers;

  • preclude women from obtaining loans without the consent or guarantee of their husband or a male relative.

    Sources: Guidelines and Checklists for Gender in Public-Private Partnerships in Lao PDR (Draft); Gender, Law and Policy in ADB Operations: A Toolkit; Women, Business and the Law

6.  Institutional Framework

PPP units (or other dedicated units involved in the PPP process) can only integrate gender considerations systematically in the PPP project cycle if they have respective internal structures and processes in place and the institutional capacity, skills and resources to fulfill these tasks. The same applies for other regulatory authorities and local institutions that typically involved in infrastructure construction and operation, e.g. with regard to licensing, setting of tariffs and quality standards. At the same time, ensuring equal representation of women in decision-making processes related to PPP infrastructure projects can be an essential step to narrow gaps between men and women.

To achieve a gender-responsive institutional framework the following measures can be considered:

  • Ensuring equal representation of men and women in institutions and teams involved in PPP process;

  • Integration of gender specialists in institutions and teams involved in PPP process;

  • Providing specific gender training to all staff members involved in the PPP process;

  • Offering capacity building measures, such as training, awareness raising or advisory services for the private sector (including women-owned local companies).


    • Costa Rica

    • Lao PDR

      • The resettlement strategy for the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project ensures that male and female resellers are assisted and trained by male and female project staff, and that opportunities for women to take up positions of authority and decision-making are increased. This includes, e.g. setting a target number of women as members of the Resettlement Committee or the Resettlement Management Unit (especially for mid-level technical positions and all sub-offices) or as staff for the Resettlement Office (see Concession Agreement, Appendix A, Schedule 4, Part 1).

    7. PPP Legal and Regulatory Framework: Further Reading & Resources

    • Gender, Law and Policy in ADB Operations: A Toolkit, ADB 2006 - The Gender, Law, and Policy (GLP) Toolkit helps analyze GLP issues in proposed ADB projects. The Toolkit provides general background on the gender dimension of the law and policy frameworks that govern and influence ADB-supported projects; identifies specific GLP issues in the main sectors that ADB supports; suggests entry points and practical approaches for addressing GLP issues through country partnership strategies and projects; and provides background materials, internet links, checklists, sample assurances and other tools for integrating GLP considerations in country partnership strategies and projects. It is intended to build upon and complement the ADB gender checklists that have already been developed for key sectors.

    • Public Private Partnerships, Infrastructure, Gender and Poverty by Mary Jennings and Cathy Gaynor, World Bank Institute (WBI), June 2004 - Discussion paper designed for use in training courses run by the Finance and Private Sector Development section of the WBI. The paper examines PPP projects through a gender lens, and identifies opportunities and entry points for integrating a gender and poverty dimension into PPP infrastructure projects from the preparation stage through a social assessment as well as within the PPP policy and regulatory framework.

      • UN Women Constitutional Database - This website compiles all the different provisions related to gender contained in constitutions in countries around the world, available in the original language, along with English translations. The database can be searched by keywords, provisions, regions or countries.

      • Women, Business and the Law (WBL) - The World Bank Group's Doing Business project measures gender inequality in the law. The dataset identifies barriers to women's economic participation and encourages the reform of discriminatory laws.

    2. Strengthen Women's Role in Community Engagement

    Community engagement is part of the greater stakeholder engagement process of a PPP. If the community engagement process can build broad community support for the PPP it is more likely to be successfully developed. Women are often less represented in community engagement activities, in particular due to social, cultural and language barriers as well as lack of safe transport or childcare. A well-thought-out community engagement strategy that reaches out to women's representatives and facilitates the participation and effective engagement of local women can help public and private sector parties to understand the full range of issues that need to be addressed thereby avoiding risk and potential conflict and helping to ensure community buy-in to the PPP.

    Legal Documents
    • Canada/United States

      • Gordie Howe International Bridge Project - Canada Michigan Crossing Agreement of 2012 mandates a Community Benefits Plan to be delivered as part of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project that includes a workforce development and participation strategy as well as a stakeholder communication and engagement strategy.

    3. PPP Appraisal

    During the appraisal stage several assessments are undertaken that identify and analyze potential negative and positive impacts of a project and become often part of the feasibility studies. A gender impact assessment  and the development of a project-specific gender action plan (GAP) may be required at this stage by DFIs/MDBs as part of their environmental and social impact assessments for the projects they support.

    Development Finance Institutions

    Many IFIs as well as and other national development finance institutions address gender differences in their safeguards policies and have developed tools to identify and assess risks and opportunities relevant to narrow gender gaps. These standards are applicable if any of those entities is funding the project.

    In particular, projects need to address risks for women related to resettlement, human resource policy requirements, working conditions and terms of employment, non- discrimination and equal opportunity as well as harassment, intimidation, and/or exploitation, especially with regard to women


    National Standards
    • Philippines - National Government Public-Private Partnership Manual, National Government of the Philippines, draft version as of 4 August 2014 - Annex 4 of the manual sets out guidelines and procedures for integrating gender considerations in PPP project cycles. PPP transactions are, for instance, required to undertake a gender-responsiveness analysis to ensure that the project considers and addresses the needs of both women and men, and that the decision-making process and subsequent implementation of the project puts high priority on gender equality goals. An example of a procedure for a gender analysis for a road project is outlined in Box 1.5 of Volume 1.

    • Serbia - Guidance for Social Impact Assessment Government of the Republic of Serbia 2016 - Guidance addresses the issues of gender equality and the prevention and prohibition of discrimination.

    4. Gender & PPP Procurement

    PPP Procurement Legislation, Policies, Guidelines

    Procurement legislation, policies or guidelines that govern procurement of PPP projects in a specific country can contribute to narrowing gender gaps, e.g. by encouraging or mandating preferential procurement of women-owned SMEs or gender-certified businesses as subcontractors, suppliers or vendors, facilitating the participation of women as employees, leaders, stakeholders and infrastructure users, or by preventing risk, e.g. the risk of gender-based violence.

    A selection of links to relevant policies, guidelines and legislation that are applicable to PPP projects is provided below:

    • South Africa

    • United States

    • United Kingdom

      • The Greater London Authority (GLA) Group Responsible Procurement Policy, GLA 2017: One of the policy goals is to encourage equality and diversity by removing barriers in procurement approaches and processes that inhibit Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), community sector organizations, diverse enterprises and under-represented groups from easily entering the supply chain and to ensure that procurement processes are transparent, straightforward, and open to the whole of the supplier community. Diverse enterprises include women-owned enterprises. It will seek skills, training and employment opportunities by working with our supply chain to address under-representation of diverse groups, including women.

    • Zambia

      • Public-Private Partnership Act, 2009: Article 20 (c) mandates that the procurement process needs to take into account the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act, 2006, regarding preferential treatment for certain categories of citizens that have been disadvantaged or marginalized, as defined under that Act, in accessing and being awarded tenders for the procurement of goods and services.

    Bidding Documents

    The bidding documents should indicate what the identified gender impacts are and describe the proposed activities and desired outcomes as reflected in the project-specific gender action plan or similar instruments. In particular, they should spell out any design criteria and standards to be met and specific activities that will likely be required by the bidder. Qualifications and experience that may be required to perform the anticipated gender activities can be included in the RfQ or be incorporated as evaluation criteria.  


    1. Bidder's/core team member's track record with regard to similar gender-inclusive projects (e.g., reports showing track record for gender-sensitive community engagement).

    2. Means to address harassment and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and GBV (e.g., codes of conduct, that apply to bidder's employees and sub-contractors together with details on compliance and implementation).

    3. Bidder's practice regarding supplier diversity (e.g. supplier diversity code of conduct that applies to the bidder’s own operations and its sub-contractors and promotes equal participation of local women-owned businesses in the project).

    4. Management strategies and community benefit plans that show how bidder plans to ensure compliance with gender-related commitments of the project (e.g., how the project intends to increase entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for local women at different levels of responsibilities).

    5. Bidder’s internal human resource policies and procedures that show how the bidder actively seeks to address discrimination against women in the workforce, including promotion of gender equality in the workforce and anti-sexual harassment policies, as well as data that shows compliance with these policies (for example, gender wage gap data or corporate leadership data).

    Promoting Female Community Engagement, Employment & Entrepreneurship

    Gordie Howe International Bridge Project - Canada Michigan Crossing Agreement of 2012 mandates that the RFP proposal shall considering the proposed community benefits plans, as described in the RFP, covering both Canada and Michigan when evaluating an RFP proposal. The community benefit plan includes a workforce development and participation strategy as well as a stakeholder communication and engagement strategy.

    The Suggested content for an Environmental and Social Policy in the World Bank Group Standard Procurement Documents aims to narrow gender gaps between men and women regarding employment opportunities. The Procurement of Works & User's Guide (updated October 2017) states, for example that the Environmental and Social Policy should as a minimum "include commitments to: (...) 3. ensure that terms of employment and working conditions of all workers engaged in the Works meet the requirements of the ILO labour conventions to which the host country is a signatory; (...) 4. be intolerant of, and enforce disciplinary measures for GBV, inhumane treatment, sexual activity with children, and sexual harassment; 5. incorporate a gender perspective and provide an enabling environment where women and men have equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, planning and development of the Works. (....)".

    Preventing GBV

    A code of conduct where private companies make a clear statement that they do not tolerate GBV and that they want to ensure that employees are trained and held accountable for upholding these values can be an effective tool to prevent GBV. Embedding clear GBV requirements in procurement processes is a critical mechanism to address GBV risks. For details see Good Practice Note, Addressing Gender Based Violence in Investment Project Financing involving Major Civil Works, World Bank Group, 28 September 2018.

    • Vanuatu Aviation Investment Project - Provisions have been embedded in bidding documents for runway civil works that stipulate contractor responsibility for the implementation, enforcement and monitoring of a Code of Conduct covering GBV. Contractors are also responsible for development and implementation of a complimentary Action Plan to ensure effective implementation of the Code of Conduct. The Codes of Conduct developed for the project are included in Annex 5 of the publication Working together to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse -recommendations for World Bank investment projects, World Bank Group 2017.

    • The submission of Codes of Conduct that will apply to the contractor's employees and subcontractors is mandatory under the World Bank Group Standard Procurement Documents for the procurement of works (updated July 2019). The Bidder shall use for this purpose a Code of Conduct form provided in the standard documents.

    Gender-Responsive Procurement: Further Reading and Resources

    5. Integrating Gender in PPP Contracts

    The PPP contract (e.g., concession agreement, project agreement) ensures that the actions, targets and indicators from the project-specific gender action plan are translated systematically into enforceable and measurable long-term gender commitments (e.g. through the establishment of gender-sensitive performance indicators that can be accurately reported in order to monitor and assess outcomes and to ensure compliance).

    Sample PPP Contracts

    Nam Theun 2 hydroelectric power project, Lao PDR: The project is governed by a concession agreement that sets out social safeguards to mitigate the potential negative social impacts of the project including gender-specific actions to guarantee increased gender equity and expanded opportunities for women and girls, e.g. land titles are issued jointly to husband and wife (Concession Agreement, Appendix A, Schedule 4, Part 1, Social and Resettlement Component). See also summary of the concession agreement.

    • South Africa

    • United Kingdom

      • Concession agreement between Rail for London Limited and MTR Laing Metro Limited (redacted version) of 2 July 2007 - Schedule 6 contains Equality and Diversity Requirements: The operator shall comply with a supplier diversity plan and an agreed equality policy and shall procure that each of its subcontractors adopts and implements an equality and diversity policy in respect of that subcontractor’s employees engaged in the performance of the agreement. Contracting authority may from time to time undertake audit or check information regarding the operator’s compliance. Contracting authority’s rights include documents and records of private partner and its direct subcontractors and, to some extent indirect subcontractors. Private partner needs to keep and maintain respective records and ensure that subcontractors keep and maintain records. Reporting obligations with regard to female employees.
    • United States



    6. PPPs, Infrastructure & Gender: Further Reading and Resources

    International Guidance
    • Inclusive Infrastructure and Social Equity, Global Infrastructure Hub 2019 - Inclusive Infrastructure is infrastructure development that enhances positive outcomes in social inclusivity, and ensures that no individual, community or social group is left behind or prevented from benefiting from improved infrastructure. This reference tool on inclusive infrastructure and social equity presents a practical evidence-based framework for practitioners to maximise the impact of infrastructure investment on reducing inequality and promoting shared prosperity.

    • Gender Equality, Infrastructure and PPPs - A Primer, World Bank Group and Canadian Government 2019 - The primer consolidates and draws from a wide spectrum of examples that cut across sectors to demonstrate how infrastructure, its development, and the policies and regulations governing its construction and operation, can play a role in closing gaps between women and men. It pinpoints approaches for ensuring that projects not only do no harm, but also serve as vehicles for empowerment, providing practical guidance that can be systematically integrated into PPP projects and frameworks.

    • Integrating Gender Equality into Public-Private Sector Partnerships, Caribbean Development Bank, December 2018 - This Technical Guidance Note (TGN) is part of a series of documents on integrating gender equality into the sector operations of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The Notes identify key issues which lead to, and reinforce gender inequality, and propose possible solutions for addressing them.

    • Mainstreaming Gender Equality to Improve Infrastructure Development Impact, PIDG 2018

    • Gender Equality Advisory Services for Infrastructure Programs: Gender Review, Adam Smith International October 2016 - This review identifies a range of good practices to gender equality and infrastructure already being implemented by the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) and in the PIDG subsidiary, InfraCo Asia Development and provides recommendations to further progress the mainstreaming of gender equality.

    • Gender Impact of Public-Private Partnerships – Literature Review Synthesis Report, International Finance Corporation (IFC) November 2012. This report is based on the review of general and sector-based literature on gender and infrastructure. It undertakes an assessment of the current and potential gender impacts of public private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects. The report recommends a number of mainstreaming mechanisms, which might be incorporated within the PPP project cycle for the benefit of women and girls, including the establishment of gender-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for benefits to females as part of PPP arrangements.

    • Making Infrastructure Work for Women and Men, A Review of World Bank Infrastructure Projects (1995 – 2009), December 2010 - This report provides a gender review of a decade and a half of World Bank infrastructure lending for 1,246 projects. The objective of this review is to assess the status of and trends in gender integration in the World Bank infrastructure portfolio, and to establish a baseline for monitoring and enhancing gender integration in line with commitments made for the 2006 Gender Action Plan.

    • Making Urban Development Work for Women and Men Tools for Task Teams, December 2010 - The primary objective of this publication is to provide brief, relevant, and practical tools for World Bank task teams and their country counterparts to facilitate their work in addressing gender issues in urban development policies and projects.

    • Checklist for Gender Mainstreaming in the Infrastructure Sector, The African Development Bank (AfDB), 2009 - The purpose of this checklist is to provide a tool for effective mainstreaming of gender in infrastructure programs and projects to ensure that planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluations of infrastructure projects are gender-sensitive and -responsive.

    • Public Private Partnerships, Infrastructure, Gender and Poverty by Mary Jennings and Cathy Gaynor, World Bank Institute (WBI), June 2004 - Discussion paper designed for use in training courses run by the Finance and Private Sector Development section of the WBI. The paper examines PPP projects through a gender lens, and identifies opportunities and entry points for integrating a gender and poverty dimension into PPP infrastructure projects from the preparation stage through a social assessment as well as within the PPP policy and regulatory framework.

    • Africa Regional Workshop: MDB-Sponsored Regional Workshop to Mainstream Gender Equality in Infrastructure Policies and Projects, March 22 – 24, 2001, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - This workshop was a part of a regional series sponsored by the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) Gender Working Group and was focused on mainstreaming gender in infrastructure projects in Africa. The online page provides links to the agenda, presentation materials and videos from the workshop as well as general and sector-specific reading materials (English and French).

    Useful Links

    • The World Bank - PPP Gender Toolkit

    • African Development Bank (AfDB) - Gender Sector Page

    • Asian Development Bank (ADB)

    • Bridge - Gender, Infrastructure and Poverty Reduction: Tools and other Key Resources - Bridge is a specialized gender and development research and information service at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), in the United Kingdom. It is committed to making multilingual gender knowledge accessible outside the research community and to building bridges and dialogue between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.

    • Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) – Asuntos de género (Spanish, English and Portuguese) - The Division for Gender Affairs of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean plays an active role in gender mainstreaming within regional development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    • European Investment Bank – Investing in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

    • Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)

      • Gender Resources - Information portal on gender issues in Latin American and the Caribbean countries.

      • Gender Tools - Sector guidelines that provide guidance on best practices in incorporating a gender perspective into development projects. (including guidelines regarding renewable energy and urban passenger transport projects).

    • World Bank Group

    • Global Infrastructure Hub

      • Reference Tool on Inclusive Infrastructure and Social Equity - The Reference Tool on Inclusive Infrastructure and Social Equity presents a practical evidence-based framework for practitioners to maximise the impact of infrastructure investment on reducing inequality and increasing the positive social outcomes of large infrastructure projects for often under-served or vulnerable groups.

    • UN Women


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    Women Business and the Law 2024

    Women, Business and the Law 2024 is the tenth in a series of annual studies measuring the enabling environment for women’s economic opportunity in 190 economies. Women, Business and the Law 2024 introduces a new framework for measuring the implementation gap across three pillars: legal frameworks, measuring laws; supportive frameworks, measuring policy mechanisms to implement laws; expert opinions, shedding light on experts’ perception of women’s outcomes.