Gender equality and development

The DAC gender equality policy marker


The gender equality policy marker


The OECD tracks aid in support of gender equality and women’s rights using the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) gender equality policy marker – a qualitative statistical tool to record aid activities that target gender equality as a policy objective. The gender equality policy marker is used by DAC members as part of the annual reporting of their aid activities to the DAC to indicate for each aid activity whether it targets gender equality as a policy objective. The gender equality policy marker is based on a three-point scoring system:


  • Principal (marked 2) means that gender equality is the main objective of the project/programme and is fundamental is its design an expected results. The project/programme would not have been undertaken without this objective.


  • Significant (marked 1) means that gender equality is an important and deliberate objective, but not the principal reason for undertaking the project/programme. 


  • Not targeted (marked 0) means that the project/programme has been screened against the gender marker but has not been found to target gender equality.


Data based on the marker provides a measure of the aid that DAC members allocate in support of gender equality. It provides a snapshot of:

  • Individual gender equality focused projects/programmes
  • The global estimate of aid committed for gender equality;
  • The proportion of DAC members’ aid focused on achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • The sectors prioritised for gender equality focused aid.
  • The investments within the individual sectors.
  • The countries prioritised for gender equality focused aid.


As the use of the marker allows to identify gaps between policy commitments and financial commitments, the marker strengthens transparency and accountability in donor financing for gender equality and women’s rights. At present, 92% of total bilateral “sector-allocable” aid is screened against the gender equality marker.



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The new minimum recommended criteria for the DAC gender equality policy marker were introduced in December 2016.

The purpose of the minimum criteria is to ensure a common understanding among DAC member agencies of what is the minimum baseline for projects to qualify for a 0, 1 or 2 score; facilitate the scoring process by providing a ‘checklist’ of minimum criteria for each category; and strengthen the comparability and accuracy of the data reported by DAC members.

The recommendations are not binding but set a common benchmark that DAC members are encouraged to meet.


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This handbook is the first guidance produced by the OECD-DAC Network on Gender Equality (GENDERNET) on the DAC gender equality policy marker. It is designed to promote a better understanding of the gender marker and to support DAC member agencies in applying this tool by providing recommendations for its effective application.


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See also:

The definition of the DAC Gender Equality Policy Marker.

The Converged Statistical Reporting Directives for the Creditor Reporting System including the DAC policy markers.


The CRS purpose codes


The women’s equality organisations and institutions code


Another tool for measuring support for gender equality is the purpose code for Women’s equality organisations and institutions (code 15170) which covers support for institutions and organisations working for gender equality and women’s empowerment. This code helps to track donors’ support to women’s organisations and ministries. By default, activities recorded under this purpose code get the score “principal”.


The violence against women code


Ending violence against women and girls has emerged as a priority for the post-2015 development agenda. In May 2015, the DAC introduced a new code in its statistical system to track aid in support of ending violence against women and girls (code 15180) for the first time. This new tool will help to hold governments accountable for delivering on SDG commitments in this area. It will apply starting from 2017 on 2016 aid flows.


More information about the CRS purpose codes here.


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