News Release

Summers at World Bank? Record on Poor Countries and Gender Bias

ROBERT WEISSMAN, via Barbara Holzer, bholzer at citizen.org, Dorry Samuels, dsamuels at citizen.org
President of Public Citizen, Weissman just wrote the piece “The (Larry) Summers of Our Discontent,” which states: “‘Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?’

“Do those sound like the words of a man who should be running the world’s leading economic development institution?

“They don’t, but the man who put his name on the memo in which those words appeared — Lawrence Summers — does in fact appear to be the Obama administration’s leading candidate to head the World Bank.

“For the sake of hundreds of millions of people for whose lives and life chances are shaped in some significant part by World Bank policy, please urge President Obama not to nominate Larry Summers to be World Bank president. Sign the petition at http://ForgetLarry.org.

“The World Bank is supposed to be the development bank for the world’s poor. It has a very poor record of fulfilling its mission — precisely because it has pushed the kind of deregulatory policies that Summers has advocated.

“By indefensible tradition, the United States is given the power to name the Bank’s president, and it has always named an American — even though the Bank is governed by a board that represents the world’s nations, and the Bank’s mission is to serve poor countries. In 2005, the Bush administration named neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz to run the Bank. That ended in disaster, when Wolfowitz was forced to resign amidst a personal scandal. It’s hard to imagine the Obama administration is on the verge of making a similarly outrageous pick to head the Bank, but that seems to be the case.”

SHAUNNA THOMAS, Doug Gordon, Doug at fitzgibbonmedia.com
Thomas is co-founder of UltraViolet, an advocacy group focusing on gender inequality, they have organized a petition to President Obama: “Please don’t nominate Larry Summers to head the World Bank. Summers has a long history of making sexist comments and the World Bank has so much control over the lives of women and girls in developing countries. We need someone there who believes that women and girls have the same potential as men and boys.”

ELAINE ZUCKERMAN, elainez at genderaction.org
President and founder of Gender Action, Zuckerman worked on development and gender issues at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank for years. She said today: “It would be a travesty for Summers to become the head of the World Bank. He was essentially fired as president of Harvard for saying that women didn’t have equal mental capacities as men. He argued that dumping toxic waste in Africa made sense.

“Working inside the World Bank, I noticed this deep divide between the lofty rhetoric on gender issues and the reality of the investments the Bank makes. It talks so much about reproductive health and HIV, but only puts less than one percent of investments there.

“The World Bank finances dirty energy projects — at Gender Action, we work with local partners — and these projects really hurt local women and girls. World Bank-financed pipelines overwhelmingly hire men. The construction of such projects causes female farmers to be displaced and forced into prostitution. Pipeline leaks cause a myriad of health problems for women. Roads that are built end up being conduits for trafficking in women. We need someone atop the World Bank who will push for investments that help — not harm — poor women and girls around the world.”

See also, Robert Kuttner just wrote a piece on Summers “Pick Me! Pick Me!” The piece states: “Why does Larry Summers have more lives than a cat? He was fired as president of Harvard, did not exactly serve President Obama brilliantly as economic policy czar, and now seems to be in line for the presidency of the World Bank, a post traditionally chosen by the president of the United States.”