France - Gender equality

France spends a small share of its bilateral allocable ODA on gender equality

In 2018, France spent US$1.4 billion (21%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on development activities focused on gender equality, according to the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) gender equality policy marker. This is far below the DAC average of 44%. However, in 2018, France’s spending on gender equality reached its highest level ever and increased by 25% compared to 2017, where it stood at US$1.1 billion (18% of total bilateral allocable ODA). In 2018, France ranked as the ninth-largest provider of gender funding in absolute terms. Strikingly, it falls to the twenty-sixth-largest when looking at gender-focused ODA as a share of total bilateral allocable ODA spending.

France's bilateral ODA for gender equality

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France's bilateral ODA for gender equality by sector

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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:

  1. Principal: meaning that gender equality is the main objective of the project or program;

  2. Significant: for projects in which gender equality is an important and deliberate goal but not the main objective; or

  3. 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.

France places a strong political focus on gender equality

Gender equality is a key objective of French president Emmanuel Macron’s term (2017-2021), according to the Interministerial Committee for International Development Cooperation (CICID). Gender equality was also a focus area of France’s 2019 G7 presidency. Along with Mexico, France is co-hosting the Generation Equality Forum, a global event marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995 for the empowerment of women and girls. The forum was meant to take place in 2020 but has been postponed to summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In 2018, the government adopted its third international strategy on gender equality for 2018 to 2022. The strategy focuses on five areas with the aim of putting gender equality at the heart of all the work carried out and supported by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs including development cooperation and economic, soft, cultural, and academic diplomacy. This includes:

  1. Leading by example: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) and French Development Agency (AFD) will lead by example by increasing the number of women in management and ambassador positions, raise awareness and provide training on gender issues and, systematically include gender equality in its strategies and actions
  2. Bolstering political support for gender issues by stepping up political advocacy for gender equality
  3. Better financing actions for equality: 50% of the financing provided by AFD will be dedicated to projects which include an objective to reduce gender inequality;
  4. Making action for equality more visible: promote the use of feminine and masculine terminology in ministry and agency messaging to give balanced social representations
  5. Supporting civil society and sharing results: enhance the engagement with French NGOs in the fields of women’s rights and gender through various sharing platforms.

As host of the 2019 G7 Summit, France committed to adopting a feminist angle on its foreign relations, with the aim of promoting women's rights globally. In light of this, it outlined the creation of a dedicated fund to be hosted by AFD to support gender equality projects and feminist organizations in the recipient countries. An initial €120 million (US$142 million) will be provided to this fund.  

France’s bilateral ODA to gender equality focuses on education, agriculture, and health

France’s ODA for gender-equality focuses on its sectoral priorities (see ‘Policy priorities’). In 2018, agriculture received the largest share (US$419 million, including both principal and significant funding) of gender-focused ODA. This is approximately a ten-fold increase from 2017 (US$41 million). Education receives the second most gender-related funding (US$392 million in 2018), followed by health and populations (US$180 million) and government and civil society (US$180 million).

France's bilateral ODA for gender equality by sector


For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.


Funding for projects with a principal gender focus is increasing; screening of ODA against the gender marker has improved

Of its overall bilateral allocable ODA in 2018, France channeled 5% (US$311 million) towards projects and programs that targeted gender equality as a principal goal (see textbox on the gender equality market for more details). This has been increasing over the past few years, with the largest increase between 2017 and 2018 (up by US$193 million or 2%) putting it on par with the DAC average. This makes France the seventh-largest provider of principal funding amongst DAC donors. France falls to fourteenth place in relative terms.

In 2018, France spent 16% (US$1.1 billion) of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects that included gender as a significant objective (DAC average: 38%). France’s financing of initiatives with gender as a significant objective has decreased as a share of total gender ODA since 2016 when it stood at 19%.

US$5.3 billion (79%) of France’s bilateral allocable ODA was spent on projects that did not target gender (DAC average: 46%). US$20 million (0.3%) of funding was not screened against the gender marker in 2018 (DAC average: 11%). This is a large shift from 2016, France left 24% of its bilateral ODA unscreened.

MAE defines strategic priorities for gender equality

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) oversees France’s policies on gender equality. The most relevant department is the Sub-directorate for Human Development (HUMA) within the Directorate-General for Globalization, Culture, Education, and International Development (DGM). Within French development policy, gender equality is placed at the heart of all work carried out and supported by the MAE.