Gender equality and development

Gender equality and women’s empowerment in fragile and conflict-affected situations


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Strengthening  gender  equality  and  women’s  empowerment  in  fragile  situations  is  critical  for  achieving sustainable peace and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender inequality, conflict and fragility are key challenges to sustainable development and they are inextricably linked: women’s active participation in conflict resolution contributes to peace and resilience, while unequal gender relations can drive conflict and violence.

Gender equality and women's empowerment in fragile and conflict-affected situations: A review of donor support

Gender Conflict Fragility

This Policy Paper produced by the OECD-DAC Network on Gender Equality (GENDERNET) and the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), assesses how donors can improve the quality of their programming in fragile situations drawing on case study reviews of programmes in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR), Ethiopia and Nepal.


Key findings:

  • The main factors driving gender inequalities, conflict and fragility are: prevalence of discriminatory gender norms and practices, widespread sexual and gender-based violence, weak institutions and women’s lack of access to justice and basic services, women’s exclusion from political and economic decision making, and a narrowing space for opposition or civil society organisations.
  • Donor support needs to be driven by a holistic approach that acknowledges the range of connections between gender equality and fragility, including the effect that the latter’s issues (i.e. rising identity politics, clientelism, and corruption) have on the former and on the long-term impacts of programming.
  • Donor efforts need to be directed towards addressing underlying social norms and gender relations in fragile situations, and supporting women’s role as active agents in peacebuilding and statebuilding.
  • Programmes need to engage more strategically with men and potential “resistors” (i.e. religious authorities, local officials, central or local level political party leaders) whose participation is required to affect change in gender power relations and underlying discriminatory social norms.
  • Further progress is needed in increasing incentives and accountability, Monitoring and Evaluation, and data collection.

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