Issue Deep Dive: Norway/Gender Equality

Last updated: December 23, 2022

ODA Spending

ODA In Context

Norway ranked tenth among DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality, and 17th in terms of relative spending.

In 2020, Norway’s prioritization of projects that incorporate some gender equality was at 43% of bilateral allocable ODA, just below the DAC average of 45%.

Gender-focused funding has increased by 78% since 2016, largely driven by a spike in funding for gender equality within humanitarian assistance, which more than doubled from US$127 million in 2016 to US$339 million in 2020.

Of the US$1.2 billion spent on gender-related activities in 2020, US$167 million targeted gender equality as its principal goal. This represents 6% of Norway’s bilateral allocable ODA, slightly below the DAC average of 7%. Funding for projects with gender equality as the principal objective has been increasing steadily since a low of US$116 million (5% of bilateral ODA) in 2017.

Overall, increases in gender-related funding have been largely driven by funding for projects targeting gender equality as a ‘significant’ objective. This funding stood at US$1.1 billion in 2020 (37% of total bilateral ODA), which was up from around US$816 million in 2019, when it made up 30% of bilateral ODA.

In its latest OECD DAC statistical peer review (2020), Norway’s MFA and Norad raised concerns about their government’s stricter interpretation of the gender policy marker, in comparison with other DAC donors. They argue that this more stringent interpretation of the marker could explain Norway’s relatively lower levels of gender-related funding compared to other DAC donors. Nonetheless, Norway recently introduced a target for 50% of its development projects to address gender equality as a significant or principal objective. This suggests there will be growth in gender-focused funding in the coming years.

Beyond mainstreaming gender issues across its portfolio, the Norwegian budget comprises an ‘Equality’ budget line that funds specific projects for women’s rights and gender equality. In 2022, it was set at NOK873 million (US$93 million).

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

Norway’s ODA disbursements reflect these priorities: In 2020, humanitarian assistance accounted for almost a third (28%) of gender-focused funding. It was followed by projects in education (22%), government and civil society (17%), health and populations (13%), and conflict, peace, and security (6%).

Mutlilateral Spending and Commitments

Norway channels large shares of its contributions to gender equality through multilateral organizations.

Funding & Policy Outlook

Norway includes gender equality as a key development objective: Gender equality is one of four cross-cutting objectives of Norway’s ODA policy. Efforts are anchored in the ‘Action Plan for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Foreign Affairs and Development Policy 2016-2020,’ which defines five thematic priorities:

  1. Girls’ right to education;
  2. Women’s political rights and empowerment;
  3. Women’s economic rights and empowerment;
  4. A life free of violence and harmful practices; and
  5. SRHR

The Norwegian government focuses on eliminating harmful practices: In 2019, the government published its 2019-2023 ‘International Strategy to Eliminate Harmful Practices,’ setting out efforts to support this area, with a focus on child, early and forced marriage, and ‘:abbrfemale genital mutilation.’ In the context of its overall foreign policy (including within development cooperation), the Norwegian government published its ‘Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security’ (2019-2022), focusing on women’s participation and rights both in initial, informal peace talks and in formal peace negotiation.

Gender is a key component of Norway’s humanitarian response: Norway’s 2019 humanitarian strategy states that the gender perspective is to be integrated into all humanitarian efforts, with a special focus on women’s rights (including protection against sexual and gender-based violence) and participation.

Key Bodies

Clara Brettfeld

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