Issue Deep Dive: Italy/Gender Equality
Last updated: December 23, 2022
Italy’s ODA for projects related to gender equality remains relatively low; Italy was the 16th-largest donor to projects related to gender equality in 2020 in absolute terms and the 18th-largest donor in relative terms, compared to other members of the OECD DAC.
Despite Italy’s work toward gender equality through development, only 3% (US$34 million) of the US$416 million it spent on gender equality in 2020 was channeled toward projects that targeted gender equality as a principal goal, less than half of the DAC average of 7%. Italy’s funding for projects with a principal gender focus dropped significantly from 2019 to 2020.
Italy spent US$381 million (36%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects that included gender as a significant objective, just below the DAC average of 38%. Italy’s financing of projects and programs with gender as a significant objective increased in both absolute and relative terms from 2019. However, since principal gender funding decreased in 2020, the gains in related gender funding are relatively disappointing.
US$521 million (or 49%) in 2020 was spent on projects that did not target gender. A total of US$129 million (or 12% of bilateral ODA in 2020) in project funding was not screened against the gender marker at all, representing an improvement in screened funding, which was 18% in 2019. However, unscreened funding was nearly double the DAC average of 7%.
Gender policy marker: Projects which “advance gender equality and women’s empowerment or reduce discrimination and inequalities based on sex” are tagged in the OECD’s CRS database.
Recent research by Oxfam found that around 25% of projects self-reported by donors using the gender equality marker were mismarked. This has implications for the validity of funding figures.
The marker rates projects based on three possible scores:
- Principal: meaning that gender equality is the main objective of the project or program;
- Significant: for projects in which gender equality is an important and deliberate goal but not the main objective; or
- Not targeted: used in cases where programs do not target gender equality.
Not all projects are screened against the gender marker; this funding falls into the ‘not screened’ category.
Multilaterally, Italy provides funding to UNFPA. Italy has collaborated with UNFPA on projects seeking to end forced genital cutting, and preventing or responding to gender-based violence, including in humanitarian contexts.
Under Italian law, gender equality and the promotion of equal opportunity are enshrined as goals of Italian development cooperation.
AICS aims to integrate gender-mainstreaming in all its programs. AICS has set up a network of gender focal points that work to mainstream gender in project designs, monitoring, and performance evaluations.
A 2019 ‘:abbrOECD Peer Review’ recognized Italy’s work on gender equality noting Italy's recent piloting of a gender marker for NGO projects.
Gender equality is a cross-cutting theme in the latest available ‘Programming Guidelines’ for 2021-2023 but is not mentioned as a main objective.
Maura Kitchens West
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