Further reading: Equal opportunities and women´s power!

In 1906, Finland became the first country in Europe to grant women the right to vote. And exactly 100 years ago in November 1918, Germany followed suit. Milestones on the path to gender equality. But, even in today's European Parliament, women make up just under one third of MEPs. And on the management boards of listed German companies, there is only one woman for every 13 men. That means there is still a lot to do – and not just in Europe, but worldwide. 'Equal rights, equal duties, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men' is therefore one of the basic principles driving German development policy. This principle advocates greater equality and takes a stand against discrimination, structural inequality and violence against women and girls. It promotes better legal, political and economic participation, equal access to education and health care, and supports women's peace efforts. But it is not just about women's empowerment. In keeping with the human rights movement, it also aims to strengthen the rights of the LGBTI community, as you can read in our report from Uganda. Below we provide further insights into the guidelines on which our work is based, and also into projects that GIZ is implementing on behalf of the German Government and the EU – in full compliance with national strategies and the EU's current Gender Action Plan 2016-2020.

Have an interesting read!


'A welcome but tall order’ - Three questions for: Angela Langenkamp, GIZ gender expert

  • Gender equality is a human right. Despite this, it has never featured so prominently on the political agenda as it does today. What's new?

Angela Langenkamp: For a long time now, various governments, including Germany's, the private sector, international organisations and financial institutions along with global funds and foundations have been working to empower women and put a stop to gender discrimination. They have undertaken action individually and collectively. However, so far actions and resources dedicated to this goal have frequently not matched commitments. Current agreements, like the 2030 Agenda or the UN's Addis Ababa Action Agenda address these issues directly. In the New European Consensus on Development adopted last year, the EU and its Member States undertake to prioritise women's and girls' rights, their equality, empowerment and protection across all areas of activity. That is a welcome but at the same time tall order, putting everybody to task.

  • The motto of this year's European Development Days is 'Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development: Protect, empower, invest'. What is GIZ's approach to this?

A. L.: Gender equality is firmly embedded in GIZ's corporate principles and standards. We have a Gender Strategy and, since 2015, we have been a signatory to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP). Furthermore, in December 2016, GIZ rolled out its Safeguards+Gender Management System, a minimum standard that can be applied to all projects and programmes of all clients and commissioning parties across all business sectors. It enables us to identify and actively promote the potentials for gender equality in our projects and to respond to any unintended negative impacts that may ensue.

  • What are the factors driving gender equality in and with an organisation such as GIZ?

A. L.: Clear commitment, guidelines and incentives backed up by dedicated resources. GIZ’s Gender Strategy provides a binding framework for promoting equality and empowering women in our projects and programmes and throughout the company. It is not only GIZ's managers who ensure that this is implemented, but also a network of over 100 gender focal persons worldwide. Events such as the GIZ Gender Week and the biannual Gender Competition, replete with awards for the best approaches, are good for cooperation and foster innovation.

Violence against women is widespread throughout many South American countries. It is estimated that in Peru alone, seven out of ten women suffer violence at the hands of their partner. This abuse not only affects individuals, but leads to serious losses for businesses, the economy, and society as a whole. In Bolivia, for example, the productivity of victims and perpetrators drops by around 50 per cent. As a result, the Bolivian economy is losing nearly US$ 2 billion a year. GIZ arrived at these figures together with Peru's University of San Martín de Porres following various studies conducted as part of the ComVoMujer programme it has been implementing in six countries in South America since 2014 on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), primarily with a view to combatting violence against women. ComVoMujer is now using the alarming findings of these studies to encourage companies to undertake preventive action jointly with their government and civil society. Peru and Paraguay have since introduced the 'safe business' accreditation scheme which provides staff with certified training and qualifications. In all, around 700 companies in the region have signed up to campaigns against gender violence. Up to now, more than 50,000 employees have been educated about the causes and impacts of violence. And this has benefits both for the employers and their employees: a safe working environment that is free from violence offers a better quality of life, reduces production losses and improves staff commitment. By the way, ComVoMujer will be presenting its approaches and results at the European Development Days 2018, from 09:30 – 10:45 am on 5 June 2018 at the Lab Debate in room D2.

Gender discrimination is experienced not only by women and girls, but also by the LGBTI community. LGBTI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual. Being a member of the LGBTI community is a challenge in many countries, and Uganda is no exception. Homophobia and transphobia are widespread in this East African country, even though Uganda has ratified the UN’s core international human rights treaties and key African human rights conventions. Implementation of these agreements is a slow process, however, with traditional values often playing a more important role than paper. On behalf of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and on the basis of current legislation and agreements, GIZ is working to curb discrimination, strengthen tolerance and achieve equality for all. This involves collaborating with Ugandan institutions to align or redesign the legal framework conditions, bringing together government and civil society stakeholders, and raising the general public's awareness, for example by means of a documentary on transgender in Uganda. Since end of 2017, the EU has been supporting the initiatives in Uganda, which can therefore be expanded. The focus is on strengthening LGBTI right´s throughout the country – beyond the capital Kampala. Civil society organisations are supported and the dialogue between government and civil society is strengthened. The conditions are promising, also thanks to the programme: With stronger human rights forming part of its National Development Plan (NDP), Uganda aims to mainstream this issue in all ministerial and local authority laws and programmes. Seven ministries and 26 local governments have already made corresponding changes. Uganda's Human Rights Commission and its Equality Commission – key national human rights institutions handling discrimination complaints – are now also open to LGBTI cases. Protecting sexual minorities also involves training. GIZ has already coached 122 police officers on the situation and rights of LGBTI, while 14 medical personnel have undergone special training on the health needs of transsexual women. Both training inputs are set to be rolled out on a wider scale.

Until now, public transport in Ghana's capital city has essentially been ‘a man's thing’. And it does not always run to schedule. The drivers of Accra's ubiquitous tro-tro minibuses have not been trained for the job of passenger transport and the buses are often not in good technical shape. Without a timetable but with some dangerous driving in places, everyday road transport in Accra is characterised by traffic hold-ups, accidents and poor air quality. But all this is set to change as quickly as possible thanks to a new publicly operated rapid bus system which is currently being implemented. Ghana's Transport Ministry and the responsible public authority in Accra are co-developing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system together with the commercial vehicle manufacturer Scania. From the procurement of new buses and an electric ticketing system through to training for bus drivers of both genders, including the production of a route network and timetable – modernisation is underway. And GIZ is on board. For the training input, Scania has joined up with GIZ as part of BMZ’s develoPPP.de programme. The German automotive suppliers Bosch and ZF are also involved. A jointly founded transport academy with a training workshop for buses and lorries – the first of its kind in Ghana – is providing training for around 600 bus drivers and mechanics. Following the successful campaign 'Women moving the city', some 380 women applied for training in the first year and 60 of them qualified for the programme. Within the next weeks, the first qualified women bus drivers will enter the roads in Ghana. It is expected that the application process for the new cohort will attract an even larger number of women candidates. And it is conceivable that, at the end of the project, women will make up some 20 per cent of drivers working the city’s fleet of buses – twice as many as envisaged. This is good news for Accra's inhabitants, given that – according to recent global studies – women drive more carefully and are better at anticipating hazards. The advantages: fewer accidents, lower fuel consumption and less wear and tear of the rolling stock. Women bus drivers can thus be a role model for their male colleagues and help make Ghana's roads safer.