Gender equality and development

Development finance for gender equality and women’s empowerment


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The 2030 Agenda aims for a world where every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in developing countries requires significantly increased investments. Collectively, donors and partners need to maximise both the quality and quantity of financing to SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.


Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the DAC donors is and will remain an important source of financing, especially in the Least Developed Countries. Additional finance has to complement ODA and the full “toolbox” of development finance needs to support gender equality to implement the 2030 Agenda and deliver for women and girls.

Official Development Assistance

OECD analyses the ODA invested by bilateral donors, which focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The DAC members provide yearly reporting on gender focussed ODA, using the DAC gender equality policy marker.

Key facts:

  • In 2016-2017 DAC members targeted an average of USD 44.8 billion per year, corresponding to 38% of their bilateral allocable aid, towards gender equality and women’s equality as either a significant (secondary) or principal (primary) objective. This is higher than ever before.
  • Support to programmes specifically dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment as their principal objective remains consistently low at 4%.
  • 62% of aid is not targeting gender equality.
  • In the economic and productive sectors, dedicated gender equality programming represented only 1% of total aid – a decrease from previous years.
  •  Nine DAC members focussed 50% or more of their aid on gender equality as either a principal or significant objective: Sweden, Ireland, Iceland, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Finland, Belgium and Italy.

Online database:

Aid projects targeting gender equality and women's empowerment (CRS)


Gender-related aid at a glance



By donor and recipient, years 2010 to 2017.

  • Trends in aid to Gender equality
  • Aid by sector
  • Top 10 donors/ recipients
  • Aid by instrument


The OECD and DAC are committed to driving up the quality and quantity of ODA to gender equality. By analysing the investments made by bilateral donors, OECD provides evidence-based guidance to help DAC members better develop strategies and target their support more effectively. All DAC donors can do a better job of implementing a twin-track approach of both mainstreamed and dedicated funding towards gender equality.

Financing for gender equality beyond ODA

OECD is expanding the long-standing work on analysing ODA for gender equality to also look at the quality and quantity of private development flows and funding by non-DAC providers. The analysis of wider financing, also for better policies and adaptive approaches, will involve learning and exchange at several levels with GenderNet members, civil society, foundations, and the private sector.

Financing that is dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing countries as a main objective is rare. Such dedicated financing should target areas with greatest need and where other financing is not as effective. This includes support for women’s voice and agency, and reaching those women and men, girls and boys that are the most at risk of being left behind.

Financing with the secondary development goal of increasing gender equality and women’s empowerment (mainstreamed support) is more common, but not common enough. Standards need to be more consistently applied, and developed for new forms of financing. Finding and building shared value with actors’ other objectives will be key to harnessing additional financing for gender equality.

Even financing that does not yet focus on gender equality should be aligned, as a first step, to a minimum standard of “doing no harm” to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The bulk of financing of all types does not yet integrate a gender perspective and may in fact harm gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Key facts

  • In 2017, the 26 private foundations that reported their activities to the OECD committed USD 1.2 billion to gender equality and women’s empowerment, corresponding to 16% of the total development flows by these foundations.
  • 5% of these flows focussed on gender equality as a dedicated (principal) objective.
  • USD 807 million were allocated in the health and reproductive health sectors.


What's next?

The OECD and the DAC Network on Gender Equality’s (GenderNet) are working with experts within the development finance community over the coming years. The OECD proposes a work-stream that will expand the evidence base on financing gender equality, pushing forward the data and measurement agenda and mapping financing flows at the country and sectoral level, and provide a platform for learning and exchange across the financing and gender equality communities.

Read the reports

Important note on coverage:

The first element to take into account when analysing the data for one country or when comparing data between countries is the COVERAGE RATIO, i.e. the proportion of aid which is screened. A high percentage of gender equality focussed aid alone does not mean that aid is well aligned with the gender equality policy objective; such a conclusion would only be valid for a donor with 100% coverage. When comparing data between donors, both coverage ratio and % of aid focussed on gender equality and women's empowerment have to be considered.

For more information on OECD work on Gender Equality see