Trends in donor spending on gender in development


At the forthcoming 2014 UN General Assembly (UNGA), governments, donors and civil society will be discussing the way forward for addressing gender inequality and promoting the empowerment of women and girls, including through the post-2015 development agenda.

The importance of better data on gender through the Data Revolution will also be at the centre of discussions around this – in terms of data both on the problem (i.e. gender disaggregated data to determine the different needs of women, girls, men and boys) and on all available resources to tackle gender inequality. Better information is critical to ensure resources are targeted in the most effective way and have the greatest impact.

To inform these discussions at UNGA, this briefing provides an analysis of trends in donor spending on gender in development between 2006 and 2012, including overall trends, top donors, recipients and sectors, and draws upon the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Gender Equality Marker (GEM) categories for reporting expenditure. Data in this briefing was taken from the OECD DAC Creditor Reporting System (CRS).

Top findings

  • There is a widening gap in reporting on gender, which has resulted in a clouded picture of whether donor commitments on gender equality are being met. The proportion of official development assistance (ODA) coded with a gender marker has declined from its peak in 2009 (62%) to only 50% in 2012.
  • Spending on gender as a proportion of ODA is low. Combined gender-related spending only comprised a fifth (21%) of ODA in 2012, of which only 3% was allocated to projects with a principal contribution to gender. At the other end of the spectrum, the proportion of ODA allocated to projects that do not target gender is higher (30%).
  • Germany was the largest donor in terms of volume of combined gender-focussed spending (US$4.1 billion) in 2012, followed by the UK (US$4.0 billion) and US (US$3.6 billion).
  • In 2012, just over 70% of combined gender-related ODA went to projects in Africa and Asia. Afghanistan was the top recipient of combined gender-related ODA (US$1.5 billion), followed by Ethiopia (US$955 million) and Tanzania (US$862 million).
  • Since 2006, the highest volumes of combined gender-related ODA went to the education, health and governance and security sectors. In 2012, the health sector received the highest volume of combined gender-related ODA (US$6.3 million), followed by governance and security (US$5.8 million) and ‘education (US$4.6 million).