Poor reporting of aid to gender projects gives misleading picture

by Cat Langdon

CP Oct 2014_gender and development

Gross ODA in 2012 in US$ billion (constant 2012 prices)

Aid spending on gender projects as reported by donors using the OECD DAC Gender Equality Marker (GEM)* does not appear to provide a full and accurate picture. Project-level analysis suggests that there may be up to US$4.5 billion more spent on gender-related projects from all donors than has been reported, with US$4 billion of this from the top ten donors alone.

Donors can report gender-relevant official development assistance (ODA) using the GEM.

Germany and the UK are the largest providers of gender-related ODA, at around US$4 billion each in 2012. The US is the tenth largest donor according to GEM, with just under US$1 billion (looking at only the red and black bars in the above chart). However, if projects recorded with gender-relevant codes in the Creditor Reporting System (these being women’s equality organisations, family planning and reproductive health) are included, the US becomes the third largest donor with US$3.5 billion. This is because only 4% of total US ODA was allocated a GEM.

Multilateral donors generally do not report their gender aid spending using the GEM. The Global Fund did not apply GEMs to any of its aid in 2012; however, it is thought that up to US$1.4 billion was spent on gender-related projects. In fact, three multilaterals – the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN Development Programme and UNICEF – may provide just under US$200m to gender-related projects that is currently unreported.

Under reporting of a significant amount of gender-related spending gives a misleading picture. A standardised and systematic approach would fill the information gap, strengthen accountability and enable resources to be better allocated to address the different needs of women and girls, as well as men and boys.

For more information, see our briefing Trends in donor spending on gender in development.

Download the data in Excel and CSV formats.


Development Initiatives’ calculations based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System


GEM codes are: 0, projects that do not target gender; 1, projects that make a significant contribution to gender equality; 2, projects that make a principal contribution to gender equality. GEM was preceded by the ‘women in development marker’, which was revised and renamed the ‘gender equality policy marker’ in 1997, and further refined in 2006.