Issue Deep Dive: Netherlands/Gender Equality

Last updated: December 23, 2022

ODA Spending

ODA in Context

The Netherlands ranked 9th out of DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality. In 2020, the Netherlands was the fifth-largest spender relative to its ODA.


In 2020, the Netherlands spent 71% of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects targeting gender equality as a principal or significant goal, well above the DAC average of 45%.


2018 saw the most significant increase in gender-focused spending in recent years, with levels rising by nearly 30%, from US$1.5 billion in 2017 to US$1.9 billion in 2018. Gender-focused spending has steadily risen in absolute terms since, arriving at almost US$2 billion in 2020.


Of the US$2 billion spent on gender equality in 2020, US$501 million (18%) went toward projects and programs that targeted gender equality as a principal goal, placing the Netherlands in sixth place behind the US, Canada, EU institutions, the UK, and Sweden in terms of volume of principal flows. Total principal spending accounted for 18% of Dutch overall bilateral allocable ODA, making the Netherlands the third-largest donor of principal funding relative to overall ODA. The Netherlands’ funding for projects with a principal gender focus has remained relatively stable, around US$450 million, since 2016. Principal gender funding saw a 14% increase between 2019 (US$429 million) and 2020 (US$501 million).


The Netherlands also spent US$1.5 billion (52%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects that included gender as a significant objective in 2020 above the DAC average of 38%. The proportion of bilateral allocable ODA spent on significant funding has climbed more quickly than principal funding, increasing from 41% to 49% between 2017 and 2018, and again to 55% in 2019. However, funding with gender as a significant goal slightly decreased in 2020, by 52%.


The remainder of Dutch bilateral ODA (30%, or US$853 million) was spent on projects that did not target gender at all. The Netherlands has consistently screened against the gender policy marker; 100% of ODA funding has been screened against the marker since 2014.


ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

Dutch gender-focused ODA mirrors the policy priorities and sector allocations for the country’s bilateral ODA overall.


The Netherlands spent the greatest proportion of its gender-focused spending on ‘government and civil society’ (26%, or US$506 million), followed by ‘health and populations’ (16%, or US$316 million). The Netherlands has increasingly shifted the focus of its gender programming to support grassroots organizations in partner countries and to empower and build networks among local women’s and girls’ rights groups, particularly in Bangladesh, Mozambique, Yemen, South Sudan, and Uganda.

Visit the main page of the Netherlands profile to see an overall sector breakdown


Multilateral Spending and Commitments

The Netherlands channels some funding for gender equality through multilaterals including the UNFPA and UN Women.


Funding & Policy Outlook

The Netherlands views gender equality as a prerequisite to all other development goals. The Netherlands is a global champion for gender equality, particularly in SRHR. ‘Equal rights and opportunities for women and girls’ and SRHR are two of the Netherlands’ development priorities.


In service of realizing equal rights and opportunities for women and girls, Dutch development policy has four main sub-goals:

  1. Increasing women’s leadership and participation in political decision-making;
  2. Improving the economic environment for women;
  3. Stopping violence against women and girls; and
  4. Strengthening women’s role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding


The Netherlands supports two main policy frameworks aimed at promoting women’s safety, political influence, and economic stability:

  • The Power of Women,which provides grants to women-led organizations, funded with €75 million (US$85 million) from 2021 - 2025; and
  • Leading from the South, a feminist philanthropic fund that supports women’s rights activism at grassroots levels in the ‘Global South,’ funded with €80 million (US$91 million) for its 2021-2025 cycle.

In 2017, the Netherlands co-launched ‘She Decides,’ an international organization galvanizing political support for women’s social and political rights to make informed decisions around sexuality and reproduction. The Netherlands also partners with UN Women to support women in peace and security. The Dutch National Action Plan 1325-IV, for the 2021-2025 period, involves cooperation between the Dutch government and over 60 domestic CSOs to help “break down harmful gender norms, enhance protection, and give men and women equal leverage in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding, relief, and recovery.”


At the 2021 GEF, the Netherlands co-led the Action Coalition on ‘Feminist Movements and Leadership,’ pledging €510 million (US$581 million) to feminist organizations and gender equality movements for the 2021 – 2025 period. The Dutch delegation also made commitments to support other Action Coalitions, including ‘Economic Justice and Rights,’ ‘Bodily Autonomy and SRHR,’ and ‘Climate Justice.’ The Netherlands also signed the ‘Compact on Women, Peace and Security, and Humanitarian Action,’ a movement for action on women and security and gender equality in humanitarian action.

Shortly after the GEF, the Netherlands released a list of its current strategic partnerships for development as of January 1, 2021, as part of the government’s policy framework, 'Strengthening Civil Society.’ The Dutch government selected 42 partnerships that are funded through the four funds of the policy framework: 'Power of Voices', 'Power of Women', 'SRHR Partnership Fund', and 'Women, Peace, and Security'. The total budget made available for the four funds is €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion) between 2021 – 2025.

Key Bodies

Clara Brettfeld

>See all publications from this expert

Explore other deep-dives