Promoting gender equality and women’s rights

Project description

Title: Promoting gender equality and women’s rights
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global 
Overall term: 2018 to 2021



Discrimination and gender inequality are a global problem. Girls and women cannot participate equally in social life, even in the partner countries of German development cooperation. Gender-specific discrimination through harmful traditional practices and laws or discriminatory standards and gender roles needs to be overcome, as does violence against women and girls.

It is therefore important for German development cooperation actors to implement national and international commitments and appropriate measures. This is also provided for by the cross-sectoral strategy ‘Gender Equality in German Development Policy’ of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Gender equality is therefore both a development policy objective and a consistent design principle and quality feature of German development cooperation.

German development cooperation pursues a three-pronged approach here. Firstly, gender equality is included as a cross-sectional task in all development policy strategies and projects. Secondly, projects aimed at empowering women and girls are specifically promoted. And thirdly, women’s rights and equal rights are internationally anchored in the high-level dialogue on development policy.


Gender equality and women’s rights are strengthened in German development cooperation.



The project supports BMZ in positioning itself on gender equality in German development cooperation and in the international context. In order to achieve this, it operates in four fields of activity:

1. Capacity development and institutional learning

In order to promote gender equality and women’s rights in German development cooperation, important stakeholders receive qualifications through coaching, further training and technical discussions. These stakeholders include employees of BMZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). Further training and technical inputs are used to support the organisations in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls – and in integrating them into their processes.

2. Strategic positioning and defining of topics on national and international levels

In order to intensify BMZ’s development policy commitment in the field of gender equality and women’s rights, the programme relies on reinforced cooperation with local, national and international stakeholders. Strategic alliances in relevant networks and on digital platforms are being established and expanded to this end. BMZ is being advised on how to project an international image as a pioneer in the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights.

3. Strengthening the portfolio on equality and women’s rights in sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa

The core mandate is to expand the services offered by German development cooperation in the area of gender equality. The project analyses the current BMZ portfolio for promoting equal rights and women’s rights and suggests ways of improving it. The objective here is very specific – to promote more projects that have gender equality as their main objective (GG2 measures) and to implement better-quality projects that have gender equality as a secondary objective (GG1 measures) with a view to mainstreaming gender equality. Visible and positive effects will be achieved, particularly in sub-Saharan and North Africa.

4. Promotion of innovation and expansion in German development cooperation

The project combines both tried-and-tested and new approaches in order to strengthen its impact. Dialogue forums and events help to transfer proven experiences to other contexts and regions. The project primarily advises on six main topics: 1. Women, peace, and security; 2. Displacement and migration, 3. Violence against women and girls/female genital mutilation; 4. Economic empowerment; 5. Gender and climate change; 6. Digitalisation. Good examples are identified and their piloting is supported financially and/or in an advisory capacity and made available for further use. Contemporary channels for this include learning and innovation laboratories on topics for the future, the newly designed web page gender–in–german–, and social networks.



In German development cooperation, the programme has helped to reduce gender-specific discrimination and to strengthen women’s rights. This is achieved, for example, through activities that contribute to the implementation of the German Government’s National Action Plan for the Implementation of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of the United Nations Security Council (NAP 1325 II). Here the focus is on protecting the rights of women and including women with equal rights at all levels and in all phases of the conflict cycle. Among other things, the programme contributes to implementing this objective.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) established under the German G20 presidency in 2017 are further processes on which the project provides advice to BMZ. Thanks to the targeted support provided by the project, BMZ is able to present its gender equality activities to a global audience at the Commission on the Status of Women every year, thus living up to its reputation as a pioneer in strengthening women’s rights. With the support of the project and as the largest donor to We-Fi, BMZ also enjoys international trust as an important stakeholder for improving access to finance, markets and networks for women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

At national level, the programme has also advised BMZ on revising the cross-sectoral strategy ‘Gender Equality in German Development Policy’ (2014) and supported it in drawing up the BMZ Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 and the accompanying road maps. Germany’s current position as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 2019/2020 is currently drawing particular attention to the second National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. In this case, the programme is providing in-depth advice to BMZ about the further successful implementation of NAP 1325 II. Successful approaches such as intergenerational dialogue have been piloted, processed and are now being used in new sectors such as social cohesion and to address the issue of menstrual hygiene. Impetus has also come from an internal GIZ competition to promote women’s rights through digital technologies. Three ideas were selected and piloted. All three of these pilot measures were extraordinarily successful, and extended forms of the measures are now firmly integrated into the respective bilateral GIZ projects. The project has successfully contributed to mainstreaming gender equality more firmly in the processes of GIZ, KfW and BMZ. Gender equality is now better integrated into results monitoring, for example.