Aid in Support of Gender Equality in Education and Health



Women's and girls' access to education and health is essential to their empowerment and necessary for sustainable development.

This paper examines the extent to which Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors' aid to education and health addressed gender equality objectives, based on data collected through the DAC gender equality policy marker. It also compares these aid flows against global gaps in education and health to provide a picture of how aid can be more effectively targeted to enable more girls and women to access education and health, and to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2015.


Main findings

  • In the education and health sectors, the shares of bilateral aid that target gender equality and women's empowerment are significantly higher than in other sectors: 60% and 51% respectively, compared to only 17% in the economic and productive sectors.


  • Aid committed to gender equality in the education sector by DAC members amounted to USD 4.7 billion on average per year in 2009-10. This represented 60% of the total aid to the education sector.
  • Particularly high shares of aid targeted gender equality in support for basic and secondary education - 68% and 69% respectively. In fragile and conflict-affected states, 82% of aid to basic education targeted gender equality.
  • One third of the USD 4.7 bilion of aid targeting gender equality in the education sector was committed through scholarships and student costs in donor countries, rather than at the country level.
  • Support for gender equality in education does not always match needs. Only 68% of aid to basic education in Sub-Saharan Africa - the same as the average share - included gender equality objectives despite very high gender inequality in primary school enrolments in this region.

Aid targeting gender equality in the education, health and economic & productive sectors


DAC members committed large shares of bilateral aid targeting gender equality to the education (60%) and health (51%) sectors in 2009-10. In contrast, aid to the economic and productive sectors had a marginal focus on gender equality (17%).


  • In the health sector, DAC members committed USD 4.4 billion on average per year to gender equality and women's empowerment in 2009-10. This represented 51% of total bilateral aid to health.
  • Support for family planning and reproductive health care made up a very small share of total gender equality focussed aid in the health sector. An increase in aid to reproductive health care and family planning could help close the gap to reach Millennium Development Goal 5 - improve maternal health.
  • More than one third of the USD 4.4 billion focussed on gender equality was committed in the "basic health" sub-sector - including primary health care programmes, health infrastructure and health education.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa received more than half (64%) of all aid targeting gender equality in the health sector.

Related links


Related Documents