Issue Deep Dive
Netherlands / Gender Equality
Last updated: April 21, 2023
The Netherlands ranked 9th out of DAC donors in terms of its overall spending toward projects related to gender equality. In 2021, the Netherlands was the second-largest spender relative to its ODA.
In 2021, the Netherlands spent 79% of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects targeting gender equality as a principal or significant goal using the OECD gender policy marker, well above the DAC average of 42%.
Gender-focused spending has steadily risen in absolute terms since, arriving at more than US$2.3 billion in 2021.
The share of the Netherlands’ bilateral investments with gender equality as the principal goal reached 24% in 2021, far exceeding the DAC average of 6%. Meanwhile, 21% of bilateral investments were screened but not targeted. Of the US$2.3 billion spent on gender equality in 2021, US$706 million (30%) went toward projects and programs that targeted gender equality as a principal goal, placing the Netherlands in second place just behind EU institutions in terms of volume of principal flows.
The Netherlands also spent 55% of its bilateral allocable ODA on projects that included gender as a significant objective in 2021, above the DAC average of 36%. The proportion of bilateral allocable ODA spent on significant funding has remained relatively more stable than principal funding.
The remainder of Dutch bilateral ODA (21%) was spent on projects that did not target gender at all. The Netherlands has consistently screened against the gender policy marker; 100% of ODA funding has been screened against the marker since 2014.
Dutch gender-focused ODA mirrors the policy priorities and sector allocations for the country’s bilateral ODA overall.
The Netherlands spent the greatest proportion of its gender-focused spending on ‘government and civil society’ at 25%, or US$582 million, followed by ‘health and populations’ at 19%, or US$445 million.
This approach was further strengthened by the launch of a Feminist Foreign Policy in November 2022. The Netherlands has increasingly shifted the focus of its gender programming to support grassroots organizations in partner countries and to empower and build networks among local women’s and girls’ rights groups, particularly in Bangladesh, Mozambique, Yemen, South Sudan, and Uganda.
On January 16, 2023, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher announced that in response to the Taliban's decision to ban most female NGO employees in Afghanistan, the Netherlands has paused funding to the country, as they no longer meet the required funding conditions. The Netherlands also instigated the World Bank to pause most programs from the ARTF, to which the Netherlands contributes. The Netherlands will not transfer new funding to programs in Afghanistan until it becomes independent from the Taliban's influence and equally accessible to women and girls.
The Netherlands channels some funding for gender equality through multilaterals including the UNFPA and UN Women.
The Netherlands views gender equality as a prerequisite to all other development goals. The Netherlands is a global champion for gender equality, particularly in SRHR. ‘Equal rights and opportunities for women and girls’ and SRHR are two of the Netherlands’ development priorities.
In service of realizing equal rights and opportunities for women and girls, Dutch development policy has four main sub-goals:
- Increasing women’s leadership and participation in political decision-making,
- Improving the economic environment for women,
- Stopping violence against women and girls, and
- Strengthening women’s role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
The Netherlands supports two main policy frameworks aimed at promoting women’s safety, political influence, and economic stability:
- The Power of Women, which provides grants to women-led organizations, funded with EUR75 million ( US$89 million) from 2021-2025; and
- Leading from the South, a feminist philanthropic fund that supports women’s rights activism at grassroots levels in the ‘Global South,’ funded with EUR80 million (US$95 million) for its 2021-2025 cycle.
In 2017, the Netherlands co-launched SheDecides, an international organization galvanizing political support for women’s social and political rights to make informed decisions around sexuality and reproduction. The Netherlands also partners with UN Women to support women in peace and security. The Dutch National Action Plan 1325-IV, for the 2021-2025 period, involves cooperation between the Dutch government and over 60 domestic CSOs to help “break down harmful gender norms, enhance protection, and give men and women equal leverage in conflict prevention, resolution, peacebuilding, relief, and recovery.”
At the 2021 GEF, the Netherlands co-led the action coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, pledging EUR510 million ( US$603 million) to feminist organizations and gender equality movements for the 2021-2025 period. The Dutch delegation also made commitments to support other action coalitions, including Economic Justice and Rights, Bodily Autonomy and SRHR, and Climate Justice. The Netherlands also signed the Compact on Women, Peace and Security, and Humanitarian Action, a movement for action on security and gender equality.
Shortly after the GEF, the Netherlands released a list of its current strategic partnerships for development as of January 1, 2021, as part of the government’s policy framework, Strengthening Civil Society. The Dutch government selected 42 partnerships that are funded through the four funds of the policy framework: Power of Voices, Power of Women, SRHR Partnership Fund, and Women, Peace, and Security. The total budget made available for the four funds is EUR1.6 billion ( US$1.9 billion) between 2021–2025.
There was and will be no public launch of the strategy, but the MFA has announced to host the Feminist Foreign Policy Ministerial Conference in September 2023.
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