Globe Family Women Network Infrastructure Environment Employment Democracy Agriculture food security Water Sexual reproductive rights Peaceful inclusive societies Migration development Education science Energy Gender equality Environmental climate Health Including economic development Human rights

Gender equality

Gender equality is about the equal rights of all people. It is also a prerequisite for the elimination of poverty. Global gender equality is a priority issue for Sida that permeates most of our development cooperation efforts.

Progress has been made

More women in parliments

The number of women in parliaments across the world has increased from 14 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2019.

Gender equality is a priority

Gender equality is a high priority on the international development agenda.

Gender equality is a men’s issue

The insight that men and boys need to be included in this battle is one shared by an increasing number of people.

Challenges remain

Gender based violence

Far too many girls and women are subjected to gender-based violence.

Fewer girls in higher education

There are fewer girls than boys in elementary school and among those who move on to higher education.

Progress under threat

Conservative forces, polarisation and a lack of funding are threatening the efforts being made to promote gender equality. For example, many countries are adopting restrictive laws about abortion and LGBTQ issues.

Sida's work with gender equality

Gender equality is a high priority issue in Sweden’s development cooperation – nationally, regionally and globally. The focus on gender equality has increased over the past few years through, for example, the feminist foreign policy.

Out of Sida’s total disbursements 89 percent – about SEK 22,5 billion – had gender equality as a sub- or main objective. This makes Sweden to the donor country that gives the most support within gender equality.

Sweden’s feminist foreign policy on the Swedish government web page

Gender equality – a human right

In recent years, many countries have outlawed gender-based violence and child marriage. However, discriminatory legislation, social norms and destructive customs still prevent women and girls from fully benefitting from their economic, social and cultural rights. Stereotypical gender roles are also damaging to men and boys. Gender equality is an important factor for both men and women to be able to live their lives to the fullest, and for fighting poverty.

Men and boys against gender inequality

UN Women works regionally in the Middle East and Northern Africa to involve men and boys in the fight against gender inequality, such as through the “Because I’m a Man” campaign, which has had a major impact in countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Palestine.

About the project on the UN Women Arab States web page

Educating women

In Zambia, migrant women are being trained in how to manage their finances and how to run a business through the regional programme Phamesa that promotes the health and rights of migrants in eleven African countries.

About Phamesa on the International Organization for Migration (IOM) web page

Bridging the gender digital divide

The World Wide Web Foundation programme Women’s Rights Onine is working to reduce the digital disparity between men and women and make the internet more accessible.

About the project on the World Wide Web Foundation web page

Women’s economic power

All over the world women earn less and do the majority of the unpaid work in the home. Fewer women have a bank account, own land, are able to take loans or start a business, or inherit land. That women have the same opportunity to work, earn a salary, and have their rights respected is important in itself, but it also leads to economic and social development.

Education for small-scale farmers

The UN International Trade Centre (ITC) is particularly focused on getting more women involved in international trade. In Rwanda, the organisation has, among other things, made it possible for small-scale coffee farmers to receive training in cultivation methods and economics.

Supporting women in the textile industry

In Bangladesh, Sida provides support to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) training programme for workers in the textile industry, with the aim of strengthening women’s role in the factories.

Supporting small business owners

WeEffect supports small business owners in rural North Macedonia by promoting entrepreneurship and productivity and by helping people find employment, especially women and young people.

Political representation and influence

An increasing number of women are elected to political positions, but there are still major disparities regarding political representation on all levels. In many countries the democratic development is moving in the wrong direction, which makes it more difficult for women’s rights organisations to operate and increases the risk of advocates of women’s rights being subjected to harassment or violence.

Gender equality analysis of public budgets

Sida provides support to the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) Project in Ukraine which has contributed to establish a procedure whereby all ministries and government authorities in the country perform a gender equality analysis of public budgets.

GRB Project web page

Participation in peace processes

In Colombia, Sweden’s development cooperation has contributed to increasing women’s participation in the peace process.

Journalistic guidelines for gender awareness

In Liberia, Sida has provided support to counteract negative media portrayals of female politicians, which has resulted in a handbook for journalists for gender awareness in reporting.

Girls’ rights

In low and middle-income countries, one out of three girls are forced to marry before they turn eighteen, and many become pregnant while they themselves are still children. Young mothers’ opportunities for education, employment and independence often evaporate.

Mentors help young girls and women

The UN programme Rapariga Biz trains girls and young women to become mentors, who then go on to meet with and help their peers to assert their rights, for example, in Mozambique.

About Rapariga Biz on the UNFPA web page

Increasing access to menstrual health

Sida supports several initiatives aimed at increasing girls’ access to menstrual health and at counteracting the norms that prevent girls and women from going to school or working while they are menstruating. One example is an initiative aimed at ensuring that girls in Nepal have access to safe bathrooms.

Preventing gender-based violence

The UNFPA programme Women and Girls First works to promote SRHR and prevent gender-based violence with a focus on women and girls in the conflict-ridden areas of Myanmar.

About Women and Girls First on the UNFPA Myanmar web page

Gender-based violence

It is estimated that more than one third of the world’s female population will be subjected to physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. During crises, wars and conflicts women and girls are particularly affected.

Gender-based violence includes:

  • violence in intimate relationships
  • sexual violence
  • human trafficking for sexual purposes
  • child marriage
  • forced marriage
  • honour-based violence
  • genital mutilation
  • violence towards members of the LGBTQ community.

Engage men for change

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is seen as one of the least equal countries in terms of gender equality, and a large proportion of all girls and women are subjected to violence. Sida works with Promundo in the DRC to help engage young men and boys to work for change.

Promundo web page

Counteract violence

Sida provides support to UNFPA’s efforts to combat gender-based violence in Bolivia, where three out of four women are affected. The efforts include establishing offices where women can report abuse and receive support, as well as teaching young people in school to recognise violent tendencies in their partners.

Supporting girls' rights

Sida supports several regional programmes in Africa aimed at increasing respect for girls’ rights. Among other things, support for the world’s largest programme against female genital mutilation, which includes 16 African countries, is channelled through organisations such as UNFPA and UNICEF.

Regional cooperation in Africa

Scope and governance of Sida’s work with gender equality

Of the total support provided by Sida in 2018, 88 per cent – around SEK 22 billion – had gender equality as its primary goal (23 percent) or intermediate goal. This makes Sida a world leader within OECD-DAC when it comes to support within the area of gender equality.

Updated: 13 January 2021