Issue Deep Dive
Sweden / Gender Equality
Last updated: May 17, 2023
Sweden ranked 8th out of DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality, but fourth in terms of relative spending.
In 2021, Sweden’s prioritization of projects that incorporate some gender equality was at 73% of bilateral allocable ODA, well above the DAC average of 42%.
When looking at projects and programs that target gender equality as a principal goal, Sweden is the sixth-largest donor in absolute terms, spending US$508 million in 2021. In relative terms, this corresponds to 14% of Sweden’s total bilateral allocable ODA, well above the DAC average (6%). Swedish funding for projects with a ‘significant’ gender focus stood at US$2.1 billion in 2021, a 6% drop from 2020.
Sweden has long been viewed as a global leader for gender equality and gender-focused development. Funding for gender-focused projects has increased, from US$2.6 billion in 2017 to US$3 billion in 2019, in line with overall increases in its bilateral allocable ODA. Sweden’s gender-related funding dropped by 12% in 2021 compared to 2019, suggesting a regression in gender-related focus.
Because of its longstanding practice of gender mainstreaming throughout its ODA programming, Sweden’s largest funding areas for gender equality correspond to its largest funding areas overall: government and civil society received the largest share of funding for gender-focused projects (US$671 million, or 26%) in 2021, followed by humanitarian assistance (US$424 million, or 16%), and health and populations (US$310 million, or 12%).
Sweden is a large contributor to the UN system. It is the largest contributor in total resources to UN Women, and the second-largest donor to UNFPA, with whom it has signed a multi-year contributions agreement of US$300 million for 2012-2025 (see sector Global Health). In line with its feminist foreign policy, Sweden strongly focuses on SRHR and supports initiatives such as She Decides.
Sweden applies a gender lens to all its development projects: Sweden mainstreams gender equality into its ODA programming, ensuring that every project incorporates a gender lens. In May 2018, Sweden adopted its first development cooperation strategy for global gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. The strategy focuses on the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls and increased access and use of sex-disaggregated data and research. It is backed by a funding envelope that covers work under the strategy of SEK1 billion ( US$115 million) for 2018-2022.
Sida applies a three-pronged approach to gender mainstreaming: This approach includes:
- Targeted support to gender equality interventions;
- Integration of a gender perspective in all operations and sectors; and
- Highlighting of gender equality and women’s rights in dialogue with partner organizations.
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