European Parliamentary Research Service
Development Financing & Gender
Written by Rosamund Shreeves
It is now 20 years since
governments across the world and international donors – including the European
Union (EU) and individual Member States – committed to working towards gender equality
and empowering women and girls at the fourth World
Conference on Women in Beijing. This year also marks the
culmination of the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), which included gender equality as a
stand-alone goal (MDG 3).
The process of adopting a post-2015
development agenda and specific sustainable development goals (SDGs),
has been marked by wide-ranging reviews of the
progress achieved, the persisting inequalities and the new gendered challenges
arising in connection with evolving risks,
such as increasing
inequality, armed conflict,
and the effects of climate change.
Scaled up and effective financing
will be necessary to meet a new gender equality goal beyond 2015.
“We cannot fulfill 100% of the world’s potential by excluding
50% of the world’s people. The evidence is clear: equality for women means
progress for all.” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
Why gender equality
and the empowerment of women and girls matters for development
One of the lessons learned
over the past 20 years is that macro-level economic and development policies
can have different impacts on women and men, girls and boys, as a result of the
ascribed to them and the connected power relations, division of labour and
access to and control over resources. There is also now increasingly ample evidence
that gender inequalities can have a negative impact on development outcomes,
hampering poverty alleviation and restricting the potential to increase
wellbeing. Conversely, as well as benefiting individual women and girls,
closing gender gaps can benefit men and boys,
as a whole. Investing in gender equality can therefore accelerate progress
towards other development goals, such as food security,
and create a virtuous circle
development. As an issue of human rights and justice, gender
equality is important in its own right. From this perspective, empowering women
and girls gives them greater agency
to get their voices heard and orient development in ways that meet their needs.
has been made in some areas, notably gender parity in access to primary
education, it has been slow, and large gender gaps have persisted
globally. No country in the world has eradicated gender inequality.
cooperation, in partnership with national governments and civil society,
organisations, can have an impact in crucial areas including:
Financing for Gender
Equality – Achievements and Challenges
The volume and
focus of funding
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported
that aid targeted at gender equality by its members has more than tripled over
the course of the MDGs, from US$8 billion in 2002 to US$28 billion in 2012, but
that, despite the upward trend, investments are ‘vastly insufficient to
achieve gender equality and only a small proportion of aid addresses
women’s specific needs’. EU,
aid has tended to be focused on a handful
of sectors. UN Women has also highlighted that ‘persistent and chronic
underinvestment‘ has been an obstacle to progress. Women’s
organisations, often engaged in long-term work to change deep-rooted,
structural causes of inequality, saw a drop
in their funding as donors turned to shorter, more measurable projects.
It is not only the
volume, but also the effectiveness of financing that is important, how gender
issues are built in to its design and implementation and how impacts and
outcomes are monitored and assessed. Strategies and tools – specifically the
use of gender-disaggregated
data and indicators and gender-responsive
budgeting – have been developed to ensure that financing is
gender-sensitive. A recent EU-sponsored programme
has helped to further develop best practice and demonstrated the added value
such tools can bring. However, knowledge and take-up of such guidance, by
countries and donors alike, is patchy, as noted in a recent evaluation
of EU support.
New and Innovative
Forms of Funding
landscape is also changing. Official development aid (ODA) continues to be a
central source of financing for development, as shown in the EU’s reiteration
of its pledge
to collectively reach the 0.7% ODA/GNI target. However, aid
effectiveness agreements have also led to a focus on new kinds
of partnership and funding for development. These include: the mobilisation of
domestic financial resources, private-sector funding, philanthropy, and revenue
from combating tax evasion and illegal financial flows and from better coordination.
From a gender perspective, these forms of financing offer both opportunities and
challenges. Innovations such as the Global Financing
Facility (GFF) and the Brazilian Bolsa familia
scheme target women directly. However, research by the women’s organisation,
Gender and Development Network, has highlighted
that new financing is not gender neutral and that its benefits and pitfalls
need to be explored.
Outlook: The UN
conference on financing for development and the UN summit to adopt sustainable
development goals (SDGs)
How the post-2015
agenda is financed and implemented will be determined at the Third International Conference on
Financing for Development (FfD3) to be held in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, in July 2015. Efforts to ensure that the FfD3 outcome document is
gender-sensitive and contains scaled up commitments to support an ambitious new
stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s rights are on-going.
Advocacy groups have issued recommendations,
on the successive drafts of the document.
For its part, in
Conclusions on Gender in Development, the European Union has
backed the ‘twin-track approach’ of combining a stand-alone goal on gender
equality and empowering women and girls with comprehensive gender
mainstreaming. It has also highlighted the need to align commitments with
financing in the FfD3 process.
Parliament makes specific mention of the need for a gender perspective in
financing in its Resolution
on the EU and the global development framework after 2015, Resolution
on Financing for Development and the Report
on tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social
protection and development in developing countries (Elly Schlein, S&D,
Italy). MEPs will be part of the EU delegation attending the FfD3 conference.
Sources & Further Reading
I/ Why gender equality and the empowerment of women and
girls matters for development
1) The current situation
European Year for Development: Women and Girls/ Lerch, M.
and Claros, E. European Parliament, 23 February 2015. Briefing and
infographic based on figures from the Gender Inequality
of the United Nations Development Programme.
Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) 2014 Synthesis Report/
OECD Development Centre, 2015.
Development Goals Gender Chart/ United Nations Statistics
Division, UN Women, New York, March 2014.
- The World’s
Women 2015 – At a Glance/ UN Women, 2015. Brochure
summarising the key findings of the upcoming publication, The World’s
Women 2015: Trends and Statistics. Progress of the World’s Women
2015-2016: Transforming economies, Realising Rights, UN
Women, 2015, the main flagship report looking to post-2015.
- The State
of the World’s Girls 2014: Pathways to Power: Creating Sustainable Change
for Adolescent Girls/ Plan International, 2015.
2) Interconnections between gender equality and
- Why Women
Matter: the Story of Microcredit/ Lott, C.E. Journal of Law
and Commerce, Vol. 27, No. 2, University of Pittsburgh, 2009. How
providing financial services and access to women can trigger a powerful
multiplier effect with benefits for individuals, households and local
Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014: Gender Equality and
Sustainable Development/ United Nations, 2014. 132 p.
Explores how the causes and underlying drivers of unsustainability and
gender inequality are deeply interlocked.
- Voice and
Agency: Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity/
The World Bank, 2014. 226 p. Includes a section (p. 30) on changing social
norms by working with men and boys. On the role of men and boys in gender
equality, a Report on
the State of the World’s Fathers will be launched on 16
Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Post-2015 Framework/
Smee, S. and Woodruffe, J., Gender and Development Network, January 2013.
66p. Part one examines why addressing gender inequality is so crucial for
tackling global poverty (pp. 9-15).
- World Bank
2012 Development Report: Gender Equality and Development/
The World Bank, 2012. 432p. How closing gender gaps matters for
development and policymaking, both because gender equality is a core
development objective in its own right and because greater gender equality
is also smart economics, enhancing productivity and improving other
development outcomes. A short summary is set out in the article Empowering
women is smart economics, by the same authors.
Investment that Pays off: Promoting Gender Equality as a Means to Finance
Development/ Seguino, S., Berik, G., and Van Der Meulen
Rodgers, Y., Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 2010.
equality and economic growth: is there a win-win?/ Kabeer,
N., and Natali, L., IDS Working Paper, Volume 2013 No. 417, February 2013.
Finds evidence that gender equality, particularly in education and
employment, contributes to economic growth is far more consistent and
robust than the relationship that economic growth contributes to gender
- Closing the
gap! The cost of inequality in women’s employment/ Action
Aid, January 2015.
Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach/
ICRW, Oak Foundation, Dalberg and Witter Ventures, 2014.
- Women in
agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development/ Food
and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome, 2011. The report
documents the gender gap in agriculture and the gains in productivity and
other economic and social benefits of closing it. It estimates that
bringing the yields on the land farmed by women up to the levels achieved
by men would increase agricultural output in developing countries between
2.5 and 4 per cent. This increase in production would in turn reduce the
number of hungry people in the world by between 12–17 per cent or a
minimum of 100 million people.
- Farming as
equals: How supporting women’s rights and gender equality makes the
difference/ Action Aid, May 2011.
- Gender and
food security in brief/ Aboud, G.; Ballara, M. and Brody,
A., Bridge, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, 2015. 8p. Argues
that tackling gender injustice and truly empowering women is not only a
fundamental prerequisite for improving food and nutrition security. It
needs to be seen as a goal in its own right.
- DAC Guiding
Principles for Aid Effectiveness, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
/ OECD DAC, 2008. Why achieving internationally agreed development goals
will not be possible without progress on gender equality and women’s
empowerment, and how recent reforms in aid delivery can help to accelerate
progress towards these goals.
II/ Financing for gender equality – achievements and
Statistical data on funding for gender equality and
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is one of the
principal sources for data on Overseas Development Aid (ODA) funding for
gender equality and women’s rights. The organisation has developed a “gender
equality policy marker” (also used by the EU) a statistical
tool for measuring whether overseas development aid (ODA) targets gender
as a policy objective. Its Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
maintains a portal on
aid in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment,
which includes an online
dataset (2002-2013) and annual statistical charts showing
the aid allocated to gender equality by each DAC donor. The most recent
chart was published in March 2015 with aid data for 2012-2013. Information
includes a general overview
of the share of aid focused on gender equality, a breakdown
by sector and a chart for each DAC donor, including: the EU
and the United
Analysis of the data on funding for GEWE
Assessments of EU support to gender equality and women’s
post-2015 framework for gender equality policy in foreign affairs and
development cooperation / Debusscher, P., Study for the
European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality,
analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of EU aid for
of EU Support to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Partner
Countries / External evaluation carried out for the
European Commission, April 2015.
budgeting: Innovative approaches to budgeting, Sgueo, G.,
European Parliamentary Research Service, June 2015
- Analytical study on the EU Budget for Gender Equality,
Part 6 – Gender Budgeting Analysis of
Development and Cooperation, Directorate-General for Internal Policies,
Policy Department D: Budgetary Affairs, IP/D/ALL/FWC/209-056, Forthcoming.
Assessments of GEWE funding in specific sectors
gender in emergencies: What are the trends?, briefing
paper, September 2014.
- Costing and
Financing 1325, 2010: Analysis of resources needed
to implement Security Council Resolution 1325 at national level as well as
the gains, gaps and glitches of financing the women peace and security
agenda. Case studies.
- What Women
Want: Planning and Financing for Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding,
Cueva Beteta, H., Rodriguez, L.B., et al, UN Women, 2010.
- Gender and
climate finance: double mainstreaming for sustainable development
/ Schatalek, L., Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America, May 2009. Summary
for a European Parliament Hearing, October 11 2011. Update
Funding for Women’s Organisations, Issues Brief No. 3,
Investing in Women and Girls: Mobilising Resources /
Association of Women in Development (AWID), February 2014.
Outcome documents from the United Nations Conferences on
Financing for Development:
Consensus on Financing for Development (2003) – in
particular §8: financing for sustainable, gender-sensitive, people-centred
development; §11 – gender equality and other aspects of development are
mutually reinforcing; §16, gender sensitive investment in basic economic
and social infrastructure; §19, gender budgeting; §23, businesses to take
account of gender implications of their undertakings; §64, commitment to
mainstream the gender perspective into development policies at all levels
and in all sectors.
- Doha Declaration on Financing
for Development (2008), reiterating the commitment to
resourcing gender equality, in particular §4, 10, 11, 13, 19 and 41.
Outcome documents from the High Level
International Fora on Aid Effectiveness:
Report for the 52nd session of the Commission on the
Status of Women
III/ Tools and best practices for financing gender
equality and women’s empowerment
- Toolkit on
Mainstreaming Gender Equality in EC Development Cooperation
/ European Commission, Third Edition, 2009.
- An EU
Resource Package on Gender Mainstreaming in Development Cooperation is
currently being developed by the EU and the International Training Centre
of the International Labour Organisation (ITC/ILO), and will be made
available online by the end of 2015.
Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) is developing a Donor
Scorecard to assess the performance of donors (bilateral,
multilateral, private, global north and south) which will be online in the
autumn of 2015.
Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business / UN Women,
UN Global Compact. Guidelines for businesses.
Accountability in Financing for Gender Equality: The goal
of the programme implemented by UN Women, in partnership with the
International Training Centre of the ILO, was to work with governments,
donors and civil society organisations in sixteen countries to ensure
adequate financing for national gender equality commitments and strengthen
accountability. The final programme
brief (2015) draws on country case studies to highlight
effective strategies and tools for increasing financing for gender
Moving Mountains Julia Miller, Angelika Arutyunova, and
Cindy Clark, AWID, 2014. The publication analyses the aggregate impact of
women’s organisations around the world that received grants from the Dutch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MDG3 Fund.
IV/ Outlook: The UN conference on financing for
development and the UN summit to adopt sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Key UN documents
- ‘The future
we want’ / United Nations General Assembly, A/Res/66/288),
June 2012. This outcome document from the 2012 UN Conference on
Sustainable Development launched the process of establishing a set of
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to converge with the post-2015
development agenda (§ 245-251). It recognised the need for significant
mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources and the effective use
of financing to support developing countries in their efforts to promote
sustainable development (§ 253-268). The vital role of women and the need
for their full and equal participation and leadership in the economic,
social and environmental dimensions of development was reaffirmed (§
- The road to
dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the
planet. Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the
post-2015 sustainable development agenda/ United Nations General Assembly,
Resolution A/69/70, December 2014. (In particular: gender equality §51,
65, 67, 68, 69; financing: §60).
- Report of
the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development
Financing/A/69/315/ United Nations, 2014.
- Zero draft
of the outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015
Development Agenda/A/69/315, United Nations, to be
discussed on 22-25 June, 2015.
- Zero draft
of the Outcome Document of the Third Financing for Development Conference
(3FfD)/ discussed at the first drafting session from 13-17 April 2015.
Draft of the 3FfD Outcome Document/ discussed at the second
drafting session from 11-15 May 2015.
- The Third
Drafting Session will be held from 15-19 June 2015.
Positions of international organisations
European Union positions
Council of the European Union
Conclusions on Gender in Development, ST 9242 2015 INIT, 26
May 2015. Draws attention throughout to girls as well as women. Para. 4
refers to gender equality as a core topic and the importance of alignment
with FfD in Addis Ababa. Para. 10 addresses sexual and reproductive health
and rights. Paras. 11-12 cover inter-linkages between gender and peace and
security. Para.18 evokes the key role of the private sector in women’s
economic empowerment. Paras. 21-22 cover gender analysis, statistics,
results oriented monitoring, financial tracking, delivery and impact.
Conclusions on A New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and
Sustainable Development after 2015, 26 May 2015. Paragraphs
6, 11, 25, 43 and 44 include references to gender equality.
Parliament Resolution on the EU and the global development framework after
2015 (2014/2143 (INI). Addresses the mobilisation of
financial resources: § 78-84 and makes specific reference to a gender
perspective in financing, using the European Development Fund, in §26.
Multiple references to gender equality and women’s rights: §. C, E, G, J,
N, O, P, 2, 4, 6, 18, 28, 30, 34, 40, 44, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53-59, 64, 75,
Parliament Resolution on Financing for Development/
(2015/2044(INI)), 19 May 2015
- Report on
tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social
protection and development in developing countries/(2015/2058
(INI), Rapporteur: Elly Schlein, S&D, Italy. (Gender issues are
addressed in K. and §12).
Financing for Development Work for Gender Equality: What is needed at
Addis and beyond/ Staszewska, K. (ActionAidUK), Capraro C.
(Christian Aid), Cansfield, B. (Womankind Worldwide) and Woodroffe, J.
(GADN), Gender and Development Network Briefing, June 2015.
- Towards the
Third International Conference on Financing for Development: Old Tensions
and New Challenges Emerge in Negotiating Session/
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), 2015. The article,
written before the first drafting session, sets the Addis Ababa conference
in the context of the FfD process, identifies the main conflict areas
between the different blocks of countries, and sets out recommendations.
- The Women’s
Working Group on Financing for Development (WWG on FfD), is
an alliance of women’s organisations and networks that advocates for the
advancement of gender equality, women’s empowerment and human rights in
the FfD-related UN processes. The group’s statements at the drafting
sessions and reactions to the successive draft outcome documents can be
found on their website.
With regard to gender equality, the zero draft evoked strong
criticism from the WWG FfD and other CSO organisations,
which noted that language on gender equality and human rights was not
consistently reflected throughout the document and that there was a
“contradicting tendency towards the “instrumentalisation and
commodification of women”.
Sustainable Development: A Transformative Alternative for Gender Equality,
Development and Peace, Vision Statement from the Post-2015 Women’s Coalition.
Recommendations include a call for a move away from short-term funding
cycles towards more predictable, multi-year core support, and for gender
budgeting and data on the outcomes of financial support.
Geopolitical Analysis of Financing for Development (FfD3),
Regions Refocus 2015, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era
(DAWN), Third World Network (TWN), 2015. The briefing analyses government
positions and recommendations from regional
workshops convened with civil society organisations in 8
regions of the world.
note on the African Feminist Meeting on the Post 2015 &
Financing for Development, organised May 6-8 2015, in partnership with the
Post 2015 Women’s Coalition, FEMNET (African Women’s Development and
Communication Network) and AWDF (African Women’s Development Fund).