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Which countries support gender equality in their Official Development Assistance?

Published 10 May 2022 in Facts and figures

In 2015, all countries in the world committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Among these goals, SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls worldwide. However, achieving gender equality requires sufficient investment, especially in the poorest countries.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is an important source of funding in this regard. To what extent do DAC member countries take into account the promotion of gender equality in their ODA? What trend has been observed in recent years? Analysis.

Gender equality, an issue that remains underfunded by donors

Monitoring of ODA for gender equality is carried out by the OECD DAC, using the aid policy marker in support of gender equality (see box).

Significant objective, principal objective: definitions

As part of the annual reporting of their aid to the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), DAC members are required to indicate for each project/programme whether it targets gender equality as a policy objective according to a three-point scoring system:

  • Principal (score 2): gender equality is the main objective of the project/programme and is fundamental in its design and expected results. The project/programme would not have been undertaken without this gender equality objective.
  • Significant (score 1): gender equality is an important and deliberate objective, but not the principal reason for undertaking the project/ programme.
  • Not targeted (score 0): the project/programme has been screened against the marker but has not been found to target gender equality.

Source : OECD (2016).

In 2019 and 2020, OECD-DAC donor countries directed US$56.5 billion per year, or 45% of their bilateral ODA, towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls on average per year. Of this amount, US$6.3 billion was directed towards gender equality as a principal objective (5% of bilateral ODA), and US$50.2 billion as a significant goal (40% of bilateral ODA).

In terms of volume, the largest ODA donors to gender equality are also the largest donors of total ODA (Germany, Japan, USA, France, UK).

However, only two countries have reached the international target of directing at least 85% of their ODA to gender equality (Iceland and Canada), and only three countries devote at least 20% of their ODA to the direct promotion of equality (the Netherlands, Canada and Luxembourg).

A slow improvement in promoting gender equality in official development assistance

Between 2019 and 2020, while ODA with gender equality as a significant or main objective (markers 1 and 2) increased by 11%, ODA for the direct promotion of gender equality (marker 2) decreased by 8%.

France, a future champion for the promotion of gender equality in the world?

France ranks 19th, having allocated 42% of its bilateral aid to gender equality on average in 2019-2020. 4% of the amounts allocated targeted the pursuit of gender equality as a primary objective ($0.5 billion), and 38% as a significant objective ($4.5 billion).

On 4 August 2021, France enacted a new law to frame its development aid policy: the Programming Law on Inclusive Development and the Fight against Global Inequalities. This law establishes gender equality as a cross-cutting objective of French ODA. It provides that 75% of projects financed by French ODA should have gender equality (according to the OECD gender marker) as their principal or significant objective by 2025, of which 20% should have it as their principal objective. This commitment could result in €3.3 billion being allocated to the direct promotion of equality in 2025.

France also made a number of international commitments to gender equality at the Generation Equality Forum, which it co-chaired with Mexico.

Further reading

Oxfam Report: "Are there really gender equality projects?", February 2020

Documents to download

Development finance for gender equality and women’s empowerment: A snapshot

Further reading