Egalité homme-femme et développement

From ambition to results: Delivering on gender equality in donor institutions


‘Institutionalising gender mainstreaming in any organisation is a challenge, as shown in many evaluations over the years. This does not mean it is not possible, just that it takes a systematic approach and commitment’

This study finds unprecedented political and policy commitment from OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors to accelerating progress towards gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights. Some DAC members have gone to great lengths to strengthen institution-wide accountability mechanisms for gender equality. Others are exploring innovative approaches to investing in gender equality and women’s rights. DAC members have become more active and strategic in their efforts to influence multilateral institutions’ performance on gender equality; and have stepped up their engagement in global processes to protect and advance women’s rights.

Yet, building the institutional capacity to deliver on ambitious policy commitments to gender equality remains an ongoing challenge. This will require that DAC members “up their game” in a number of key areas including: investing in specialist staff, especially at the field level; closing financing gaps; and strengthening partnerships beyond DAC donors.


Key findings

  • Gender equality is a policy priority for all but one DAC member agency, with 24 out of 29 agencies reporting increased policy focus on gender equality since 2006.
  • Senior leadership on gender equality has been the “key ingredient” in raising the visibility of gender equality and women’s rights in DAC institutions and ensuring accountability for results.
  • Increasing emphasis on achieving results has helped to anchor gender equality within DAC institutions and build momentum for implementing commitments to gender equality and women’s rights.
  • Developing indicators and methodologies that are better able to capture longer-term, more transformational gender equality results such as those relating to changes in social norms and practices is a priority for many DAC institutions..
  • Numbers of staff working on gender equality have increased overall in around half of DAC institutions since 2006. However, very few institutions have senior gender equality specialists in country offices and nine have no staff with responsibility for gender equality in any country offices.
  • Incentives and accountability systems to encourage strong performance on gender equality by staff and management are mostly weak or absent.
  • Eleven DAC institutions report an increase in budget for gender equality since 2006 and just 4 report a decrease. However, significant gaps remain between policy priorities and financial commitments in areas such as women’s economic empowerment; women, peace and security; women’s participation and leadership; and family planning.
  • Funding to women’s organisations and national women’s machineries has increased since 2006 but remains a very small percentage of overall aid to gender equality. No DAC institution was able to provide an example where the relationship with women’s ministries was working well.
  • DAC donors are taking a more strategic and structured approach to engaging with multilateral partners and holding them to account for gender equality outcomes.
  • Building and expanding alliances with a broader set of development allies beyond DAC countries will be important in accelerating progress in the years ahead, including with partner government ministries of finance, planning and key sectors; and non-DAC donors.

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