DT Insights

Empowerment how? Development policy and funding for women's empowerment

We analyzed how the 14 Donor Tracker countries, all members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, fund gender equality and women's empowerment globally, as well as their policy priorities in this area and how well they track it. The 14 donors covered are: Australia, Canada, EU institutions, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (UK), and United States (US). Some of the key findings include: 

  • Donors are increasingly prioritizing gender equality in their development policies: 12 out of the 14 donors profiled have a gender equality strategy in place, and all have launched initiatives targeting women’s empowerment in recent years. However, only two donors – Sweden and Canada – have put gender equality at the heart of their development policies within an overarching ‘feminist’ approach.
  • Donors focus on advancing gender equality in similar areas: All 14 donors specify economic empowerment of women and ending gender-based violence as focus areas. Women’s participation in decision making (11 donors), peace and security (11 donors), and sexual and reproductive health and rights (10 donors) are other priorities.
  • Collectively, the 14 donors spent US$34.6 billion in 2016 on projects that target gender equality as a ‘significant’ or ‘principal’ objective: This corresponds to 28% of their total bilateral ODA (US$124.5 billion; see Figure 1). The largest donors were the US (US$6.6 billion), Germany (US$5.6 billion), the UK (US$5.4 billion), and the EU institutions (US$4.7 billion).
  • Considering only ODA that has gender equality as the principal objective, donors spent considerably less: US$4.6 billion in 2016, or 4% of their collective bilateral ODA. The US spent the most (US$2.0 billion) in 2016, followed by the UK (US$603 million), Sweden (US$411 million), and the Netherlands (US$396 million). Italy spent the least in absolute terms (US$16 million), according to the OECD gender marker.
  • All 14 donors use the OECD gender equality policy marker to some extent to assess their bilateral ODA: On aggregate, 87% of the donors’ ODA in 2016 was screened against the gender equality marker. This is positive, as the use of the marker is the basis for comparing gender equality-targeted spending across donors.
  • However, application of the gender equality marker varies between donors: Seven donors (Canada, EU Institutions, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, UK, US) screen all bilateral ODA against the marker. Four donors screen between 70% and 96% of their ODA (Australia, France, Japan, Spain); three donors (Italy, Germany, Sweden) screen only 70% or less. These differences create an incomplete picture of how much funding is available.