Germany - Gender equality
At a glance
Germany is the largest donor to gender equality; gender equality is a basic principle and cross-cutting issue of Germany’s development cooperation
In absolute terms, Germany spends more ODA than any other donor country on gender equality. In 2018, Germany spent US$7.1 billion or 45% of its bilateral allocable ODA on development activities that targeted gender equality in a principal or significant way, according to the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) gender equality policy marker (DAC average: 44%). This puts Germany in 13th place among OECD donors, in relative terms. In 2018, Germany’s spending on gender equality reached its highest peak since 2014. Between 2017 and 2018 funding to this issue increased by 12%, from US$6.4 billion to US$7.1 billion.
Gender equality is a basic principle and a cross-cutting issue of Germany’s development cooperation. BMZ adopted the cross-sectoral strategy ‘Gender Equality in German Development Policy’ in 2014. Concrete measures are set out by a Gender Action Plan (GAP) for the period 2016 to 2020. It covers 4 priority sectors, including 1) rural development, agriculture, and food security, 2) education, 3) economic empowerment, 4) health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), 5) water and sanitation, and 6) climate change. The GAP is complemented by annual roadmaps that provide an overview of priority measures and concrete impacts to be achieved. The roadmaps illustrate measures across the GAP’s priority issues that should be achieved during the timeframe of the roadmap; the measures are framed in the form of flagship projects and milestones. As it stands (June 2020), BMZ has not yet published a roadmap for this year.
Gender policy marker: Projects which “advance gender equality and women’s empowerment or reduce discrimination and inequalities based on sex” are tagged in the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database.
Recent research by Oxfam found that around 25% of projects self-reported by donors using the gender equality marker were mismarked. This has implications for the validity of funding figures.
The marker rates projects based on three possible scores:
Principal: meaning that gender equality is the main objective of the project or program;
Significant: for projects in which gender equality is an important and deliberate goal but not the main objective; or
Not targeted: used in cases where programs do not target gender equality.
Not all projects are screened against the gender marker; this funding falls into the ‘not screened’ category.
Germany has on several occasions, used its standing in global fora to elevate the topic of gender equality and girls’ and young women’s rights to an international level. During the negotiations toward the 2030 Agenda, the German government advocated that gender equality and self-determination of all women should be anchored as a separate SDG, as well as a cross-cutting theme of the entire agenda. In the lead-up to the Generation Equality Forum in 2021, Germany is leading the “action coalition” on economic justice.
Germany has also used its recent G7 and G20 presidencies to promote gender equality. In 2015, Germany used its G7 leadership to champion issues of gender equality, violence against women, and barriers to women’s economic participation. Germany launched an initiative the same year focused on women’s economic empowerment with the goal of increasing girls’ and women’s participation in technical and vocational education by one third. In 2017, Germany used its G20 presidency to again place the topic high on the agenda: the G20 Leaders’ Declaration included women’s economic and financial inclusion, as well as education, as key means to improve sustainable livelihoods.
In addition to its bilateral contributions, Germany channels some funding for gender equality through multilaterals. These include UNFPA (€40 million or US$47 million in 2020) and UN Women (€9 million or US$11 million in 2020).
Funding for projects with a principal gender focus is increasing but remains low at 2%
Only 2% (US$252 million) of Germany’s bilateral allocable ODA went toward projects and programs that targeted gender equality as a principal goal, putting Germany behind the 2018 DAC average of 6%. Germany’s funding for projects with a principal gender focus has been increasing since 2015 (US$159 million or 1% of bilateral ODA), rising most significantly (by US$57 million or 29%) between 2017 and 2018.
In addition, Germany spent US$6.9 billion (43%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects that included gender as a significant objective (DAC average: 38%). In line with Germany’s overall increases in bilateral ODA, Germany’s financing of projects and programs with gender as a significant objective has increased since 2014.
The remainder of Germany’s bilateral ODA (US$8.7 billion or 55%) was spent on projects that did not target gender at all, while US$104 million (1%) was not screened against the gender marker in 2018. OECD data reveals that Germany’s screening of projects has improved in recent years. In 2015, only 94% of bilateral allocable ODA was screened. This rose to 99% in 2017.
The sectors receiving the largest share of gender-focused bilateral allocable ODA are government and civil society (17% of gender-focused funding), humanitarian aid (13%), agriculture (10%), and education (10%).
BMZ sets policy; Germany’s two state-owned development agencies each have their own gender strategies but are guided by BMZ’s Gender Action Plan
BMZ drives the development of strategies for German development policy, including on gender equality. Within BMZ, the responsible division is ‘Human rights, gender equality, inclusion of persons with disabilities (division 401)’. It falls under the Directorate 40 'Democracy; human rights; gender equality; social development' which is part of the Directorate-General ‘Global Issues’ (4), under the leadership of Ingrid Hoven. Germany’s two state-owned development agencies, GIZ and KfW Development Bank, are responsible for planning and executing Germany’s technical cooperation and leading on Germany’s financial cooperation, respectively, each has their own strategies for gender equality and strengthening women’s rights. The strategies were last updated in 2019 and 2011, respectively. Despite having their own strategies, both implementing agencies are guided by BMZ’s Gender Action Plan (2016-2020).