The OECD published the amounts of official development aid (ODA) allocated to gender equality and women’s empowerment between 2020 and 2021 on January 27. However, despite the 2021 Generation Equality Forum, organized by UN Women, which pledged $40 billion in international funding for women’s rights, there appears to be a significant decline in global funding for gender equality.
What is official development assistance? In what way do donor countries promote gender equality? Where does France stand in global funding? Let’s take stock of the situation in this article!
WHAT IS OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE?
Official Development Assistance (ODA) includes all the financial aid provided by the public bodies of member countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in favor of developing countries. The OECD created the DAC and included 30 Northern countries, i.e., the European Union, Japan, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, and the United States. The DAC sets the list of countries eligible for ODA.
Per the OECD, the primary purpose of ODA must be “to promote economic development and improve living standards in developing countries,” such as by financing education, health, environment, and climate. ODA is also needed on the best financial terms through grants or soft loans. Soft loans are below-market-rated and involve a non-repayable grant share of at least 25 %.
Member countries of the DAC have agreed to allocate 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) to ODA. However, only 5 countries met this commitment (Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark) in 2021.
FRANCE IN GLOBAL OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE
In 2021, France donated 13.1 billion euros to ODA, equivalent to 0.51% of its GNI. This figure remains below its pledge but ranks France as the 5th largest donor in DAC by value. Furthermore, on August 4, 2021, France enacted a law known as the “solidarity development law,” according to which France should “strive to contribute 0.7%” of its GNI by 2025.
FEMINISTS IN ACTION AND “GENDERED OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE“
Co-lead by two government bodies in France, namely the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and the French Development Agency (AFD), the Feminists in Action project classifies as an ODA project. The project funds operations in some of France’s priority ODA countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, DRC, Senegal, and Togo, by awarding non-repayable grants. By funding projects that promote gender equality, Feminists in Action fits into the concept of gendered ODA, a current priority in French ODA.
A WORLDWIDE SLUMP IN GENDER EQUALITY FUNDING
Gendered ODA is ODA that considers gender-specific obstacles and seeks to promote gender equality. The objective is to end discrimination and violence against women and girls worldwide and ensure all women have access to sexual and reproductive health care. From 2020 to 2021, DAC member countries invested an average of $57.3 billion per year in projects primarily intended to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. However, this marks a decline in the global trend: bilateral ODA supporting gender equality accounted for 42% of total ODA in 2021, down from 46% in 2020.
FRANCE’S GOALS FOR GENDER-RELATED ODA
Over the same period, the French commitment to gender equality rose from 42% to 47% of total French ODA, of which 5% of funded projects focus primarily on gender equality. This represents a total commitment of $5.5 billion in 2021. As a result, France is the 4th largest DAC donor by value with regard to gender equality, following Germany, Japan, and the United States.
The Solidarity Development Act of August 4, 2021, sets the promotion of gender equality as a cross-cutting principle of French ODA. It stipulates that 75% of French ODA should go to advancing gender equality, with 20% specifically dedicated to this objective. Implementing these obligations would translate into allocating 3.4 billion euros to promote gender equality by 2026. French efforts to orient ODA to gender issues are commendable. Members of the Feminists in Action Project consortium will remain attentive to implementing these commitments.