Issue Deep Dive: Sweden/Gender Equality

Last updated: January 9, 2023

ODA Spending

ODA in Context

Sweden ranked eighth out of DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality, but third in terms of relative spending.

In 2020, Sweden’s prioritization of projects that incorporate some gender equality was at 78% of bilateral allocable ODA, well above the DAC average of 45%.

When looking at projects and programs that target gender equality as a principal goal, Sweden is the fifth-largest donor in absolute terms, spending US$502 million in 2020. In relative terms, this corresponds to 16% of Sweden’s total bilateral allocable ODA, well above the DAC average (7%). Swedish funding for projects with a ‘significant’ gender focus stood at US$2.0 billion in 2020, a 6% drop from 2019.

Sweden has long been viewed as a global leader for gender equality and gender-focused development. It has backed this up with its funding for gender-focused projects which has steadily increased since from US$2.0 billion in 2016 to reach US$2.6 billion in 2019 (up by 32%), in line with overall increases in its bilateral allocable ODA. However, Sweden’s gender-related funding dropped by 7% in 2020 compared to 2019, despite the increase in its bilateral allocable ODA, suggesting a regression in gender-related focus in that year.

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

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$650 million, or 26%) in 2020, followed by humanitarian assistance (US$469 million, or 19%), and health and populations (US$289 million, or 11%). 




Multilateral Spending and Commitments

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.’

Funding & Policy Outlook

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 SEK1.0 billion (US$109 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.

Key Bodies

Suprabhath Kalahasti

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