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Gender equality

Gender equality is about the equal rights of all people. No one should be discriminated because of their gender. Gender equality is not only a goal per se, 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

Gender equality is a priority

Gender equality is now a high priority on the international development agenda. More and more people agree that men and boys must be included in the work for gender equality.

More girls in schooling

More girls attend school now than two decades ago.

Maternal mortality decreases

Maternal mortality means the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy. Maternal mortality in the world decreased by almost 40 percent since 2000.

More anti-discrimination laws

Many countries have introduced new anti-discrimination laws and reforms.

Challenges remain

Women disadvantaged in education and in the labour market

Even though more girls go to primary school today than 20 years ago, there are still fewer girls than boys who finish primary school and continue with higher education. Many women are forced to work in the informal sector with poorer conditions, while at the same time doing most of the homework.

Gender based violence is increasing

Many girls and women are subjected to gender-based violence. Domestic violence and violence against women and children have increased dramatically in connection with covid-19.

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 LGBTQI issues.

Sida's work with gender equality

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

Sweden is one of the donor countries that invests most in support for gender equality. Globally, work for gender equality is under-financed. Only 4 percent of all donor countries’ funding has gender equality as their main goal.

Sida has an action plan to increase gender equality. It is based on gender mainstreaming, targeted initiatives to draw attention to specific groups and issues, and dialogue with partners.

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 and change destructive male norms. One example is 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. It is done 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 empowerment

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 for whole countries.

Education for small-scale farmers

In Rwanda, the International Trade Centre (ITC) has made it possible for small-scale coffee farmers to receive training in cultivation methods and economics.
About the work on the ITC web page

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.
About the project on the ILO web page

Supporting the livelihood of women

Among indigenous women in rural Guatemala, violence is a part of the daily life. Sida suppports the organisation Helvetas that helps women to make a living on agriculture, and to avoid being financially dependent on men.
About the work in Guatemala on the Helvetas web page

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 will be married before the age of 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. These mentors 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 LGBTQI community.
Engaging 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.

About the work at the UNFPS´s web page

Working against child marriage

In Bangladesh, 18 percent of all women marry before the age of 18. Sida supports Plan International, an organisation that works against child marriage.

About the work in Bangladesh on the Plan International web page

Scope of Sida’s work with gender equality

Of the total support provided by Sida in 2020, 87 per cent – SEK 22.8 billion – had gender equality as its primary goal (19 %) or intermediate goal (68 %).

Updated: December 3, 2021