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Aid for gender equality: ten-year trends the development community should know

A few months ago, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) released the final official development assistance (ODA) data for 2018. Development Initiatives created a useful fact sheet analysis of the 29 donor governments’ aid spending for 2018, including how much of their bilateral ODA went to projects that aim to primarily or partially target gender inequality. [1]

We decided that this new data presents a great opportunity to analyse important trends in donors’ combined aid spending towards gender equality. We pulled the OECD-DAC data from the last ten years to show how much and in what ways donors have – or have not – funded gender equality. [2]

The data, as self-reported by donors, tells us that for the last ten years:

  1. Most aid still does not aim to address gender inequality.

  2. Increasingly more aid has a partial focus on gender equality, indicating enhanced gender mainstreaming.

  3. More aid is being assessed on its intentions to target – or not target - gender equality.

  4. There has been an increase in aid with a primary focus on gender equality, but this type of aid remains relatively small.

  5. Consistently little aid goes towards women’s equality organisations and institutions. [3]

While these donors' self-reported gender equality funding figures have increased, Oxfam's recent report calls into question whether the actual funding for gender equality work has increased, as it finds that many donors inconsistently assess their funds against gender markers. It is also likely that the increasing awareness of the importance of gender programming and the increasing scrutiny of aid globally has increased the pressure on agencies to assess their work on gender equality - even when it does not meet all the OECD-DAC conditions to qualify as gender equality programming.

This is why our gender aid data study will examine whether reported gender funding data reflect the reality of gender work on the ground, by focusing on three case studies: Kenya, Nepal, and Guatemala. We will be asking: who is actually funding gender equality in these countries, why, and with what results?

While we try to answer these questions, perhaps the development community can start to think about this one: What story would we like the data to tell?

The Gender Financing Project receives support from Plan International USA and Save the Children USA.


[1] Click here for more information on how the OECD-DAC classifies aid with the gender equality marker.

[2] The animated graph in this blog was created with Flourish.

[3] Most aid going towards women’s equality organisations and institutions is classified as aid with a primary (principal) focus on gender equality. As such, aid going to these organisations is a part of the total aid targeting gender equality- it is not additional or separate funding.

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