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What Can We Learn from the World Bank’s Anti-violence Against Women Policy?

Many 2022 World Bank Annual Meetings sessions were devoted to the bank’s position in combatting violence against women. The bank recognized its role in addressing the issue, and some of its actions are prime examples of employing organizational “hard power” to return societal equity.


For years, the World Bank has contributed funds to organizations that have worked to uplift women's quality of life worldwide. The bank has pledged more than $300 million to the cause and compiled various databases on violence against women, which have empowered many public sectors and NGOs in the past decade. However, in 2021, the World Bank introduced a new scheme where all borrowers must undergo rigorous audits that determine their level of systemic violence against women. If they fail the screening, they cannot associate with or borrow from the bank. As organizations often contribute to social causes via monetary donations, it is rare to see such action. This World Bank’s scheme, therefore, speaks volumes about its commitment to the issue.


Businesses have the option to exert "hard power" on their upstream (supplies) and downstream (distributors) stakeholders to take action along on the most pressing issues. The forms it could be employed are, for example, raising the interest rate, increasing the price of vital materials, and withholding critical pieces of technology unless changes are made. Apart from combatting gender-based violence, this scheme could be used to cut down carbon emissions, improve labor conditions, and reduce the extraction of natural resources. This is not to justify organizations forcing or threatening their networks to bargain for outcomes; instead, it calls for judgment—determining which situations beget which corrective actions. This is especially true in circumstances in which "soft powers," such as discussion and recommendation, fail to persuade. Another compelling reason for businesses to consider the hard power option is that with people today becoming interconnected, a damaging action from just one stakeholder could tarnish the reputation of the entire ecosystem in consumers' eyes. As such, ensuring every party acts congruently with one another is vital.

Violence in any shape or form is never justified. This action from the World Bank has shown its commitment to resolving the issues with the hardest measures. This should inspire all businesses and governments; to make the world a better place; sometimes, hard power is required to create changes among the most stubborn parties.

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