Issue: Gender Equality

Last updated: June 1, 2022

In 2020, ODA targeting projects related to gender equality from OECD DAC donors stood at US$51.3 billion. This represents a 32% increase from US$38.8 billion in 2016 and includes funding targeting gender equality both as a principal and as a significant goal.

Top donors

In 2020, the largest donors of gender-related ODA (including both principal and significant funding) were Germany, the UK, the US, Japan and France.

For more details on donors’ funding and policies for gender equality, see our  ‘Insights bundle: Three pillars of gender equality’.


According to the SDGs, gender equality means "women and girls, everywhere, must have equal rights and opportunity, and be able to live free of violence and discrimination." Gender equality is an important precursor to the achievement of development across all other sectors; integrating gender equality into all kinds of development programs is known as "gender mainstreaming." In addition to being a cross-cutting issue, gender equality is a goal in-and-of-itself. Because of this dual nature, it can sometimes be hard to pin down just what we mean when we talk about gender equality.

At the GEF in 2021, the global community agreed on a framework for understanding gender equality across six key action areas. The GEF was a major global gathering for gender equality, bringing together government delegates, UN representatives, youth leaders, civil society advocates, academics, and members of the private sector to bring new life to the global movement for gender equality and set a course toward bold gender equality outcomes by 2026.

The GEF held two meetings in 2021, in Mexico City in March and in Paris in June, and culminated in the launching of a 5-year Global Acceleration Plan to achieve irreversible progress towards gender equality. The Acceleration Plan is based on a series of concrete, ambitious, and transformative actions, and is backed by US$40 billion in financial commitments pledged at the summit.

The Mexico City event officially launched the Forum’s ‘Action Coalitions’, multi-stakeholder partnerships across six major themes of gender justice. Each coalition has identified critical goals in their area to be achieved by 2026, which are helpful in understanding and defining the many dimensions of gender equality. (For more information on the Action Coalitions' design and goals, view the GEF Global Acceleration Plan.)

Gender policy maker: 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.
reseach 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.

Country Specific Deep Dives

Learn more about ODA to Gender Equality from...

Our Gender Equality Experts

Zoe Johnson

Senior Policy Lead

>See all publications from this expert

Maura Kitchens West

Associate Consultant

>See all publications from this expert

Carmen He

Senior Consultant

>See all publications from this expert

Clara Brettfeld

Associate Consultant

>See all publications from this expert

Explore other issues