Spain - Gender equality

Spain's bilateral ODA for gender equality

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

Spain's bilateral ODA for gender equality by sector

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

Gender equality is a cross-cutting priority of Spain’s development assistance 

In 2018, Spain spent US$313 million (50%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on development activities that targeted gender equality in a principal or significant way, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) gender equality policy marker (DAC average: 44%). 

In 2018, Spain’s spending on gender equality remained steady compared to 2017 (US$311 million or 49% of bilateral ODA) and 2016 (US$275 million or 49% of bilateral ODA). 


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.


According to the ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2020’, the Spanish government focuses its gender equality work on ending violence against women and girls and fostering women’s empowerment, equal rights, and opportunities. Spain’s government is increasingly prioritizing gender equality, gender empowerment, and gender-based interventions on the domestic and international front. In 2018, Spain announced that gender-based approaches would be prioritized in all areas of Spain’s development cooperation including through the application of gender orientation to development policies, the creation of gender-specific guidelines for humanitarian action, and the monitoring of multilateral funding provided to institutions working for gender equality and strengthening gender-specific multilateral initiatives. In a parliamentary hearing held in June 2020, The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs outlined gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a cross-cutting priority sector (along with human rights and humanitarian assistance) of Spain’s development policy. In early 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Spanish government emphasized the need to protect the most vulnerable people, particularly women, as part of the country’s international response to the crisis. Currently, the Spanish Foreign Ministry (MAEUEC) is working on a new strategy for Spain’s global efforts within the gender equality sector and the Foreign Minister is expected to deploy a feminist foreign policy by the end of the current term of office.  

In terms of sectoral focus, Spain’s gender-related ODA is mainly directed towards the ‘governance and civil society’ sector, which receives 26% of bilateral allocable ODA for gender, followed by ‘water and sanitation’ (15%), and ‘education’ (13%).  

In addition to bilateral contributions, Spain also demonstrates a commitment to gender equality in the multilateral fora.  Spain is planning on presenting a COVID-19 associated resolution on women and girls before the UN General Assembly and Prime Minister Sánchez’s cabinet is strongly committed to the 2020 Beijing +25 Global Conference on Women and the 2021 Generation Equality Forum. In November 2020, Spain presented and promoted the UN Resolution on Women and girls and the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aimed at placing women and girls at the heart of the global response against the COVID-19 crisis and recovery. Together with Sweden and Germany, Spain co-led the Generation Equity Forum’s Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights.   

Spain ranks first among OECD donor countries when comparing relative ranking of spending on principal gender funding  

21% (US$132 million) of Spain's bilateral allocable ODA was spent on projects and programs that targeted gender equality as a principal goal. This puts Spain first among OECD donor countries in a relative ranking of spending on principal gender funding as a proportion of bilateral allocable ODA. Spain’s funding for projects with a principal gender focus has only slightly increased since 2016 when it constituted 18% of bilateral allocable ODA.  

In addition, Spain spent US$182 million (29%) of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects that included gender as a significant objective (DAC average: 38%). Given that overall spending on gender equality has remained somewhat steady, Spain’s financing of projects and programs with gender as a significant objective has slightly declined as principal funding increased.   

The remainder of Spain’s bilateral ODA (US$306 million or 49%) was spent on projects that did not target gender at all, while US$2 million was not screened against the gender marker in 2018.  

MAEUEC’s General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies defines gender strategic priorities 

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEUEC), the General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies (DGPDS). The DGPDS takes the leading role in policy formulation, planning, and evaluation. With regard to implementation, AECID covers gender-related programs through its Directorate for Multilateral and Sectoral Cooperation and through its regional departments (i.e., the Directorates for Africa and for Latin America), that manage bilateral programs on the ground. Other relevant stakeholders include the Prime Minister’s Office (‘La Moncloa’) and the Ministry of Equity.