ODA Spending

How much ODA does South Korea allocate to gender equality?

South Korea ranks as the 16th largest DAC donor to gender equality in absolute terms and the 23th largest DAC donor to gender equality in relative terms.

18% of South Korea’s bilateral allocable ODA was reported as gender-focused, or on projects related to gender equality in 2022, well below the DAC average of 36%.

How is South Korean gender equality ODA changing?

Gender-related funding as a proportion of bilateral ODA increased significantly to 28% in 2020 from 12% in 2019, likely related to tagged gender funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, relative funding fell to 23% in 2021 and continued to decrease in 2022, indicating that the 2020 levels may be exceptional.

How does South Korea allocate gender equality ODA?

Bilateral Spending

In 2022, 74% of South Korea’s bilateral ODA was spent on projects that were marked as screened but not targeting gender equality, while 7% was spent on projects not screened against the gender marker.

Mutlilateral spending and commitments

In addition to its bilateral contributions, South Korea channels some funding for gender equality through multilateral organizations. MOGEF supports UN Women and considers UNFPA a priority multilateral, making multiple contributions specifically for the Action with Women and Peace initiative.

In recent years, South Korea has increased its collaboration with multilaterals on gender equality including through a partnership between KOICA, UNFPA, and UN Women, launched in 2018 to accelerate progress toward SDG 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through innovative country-level programming.

UNFPA opened a regional office in Seoul in February 2019, intended to strengthen the organization’s engagement with South Korea on matters related to public health, SRHR, and an aging population. UNFPA and South Korea plan to cooperate in implementing South Korea’s Action with Women and Peace initiative, launched in 2019.

Funding and Policy Outlook

What is the current government's outlook on gender equality ODA?

While 2020 saw a slight increase in the proportion of gender-related funding, funding for gender equality dropped in 2021 and continued to decline in 2022. Gender equality funding could decrease further under the leadership of President Yoon Suk Yeol, who ran on an anti-feminist platform and has increased focus on global health.

Under the leadership of Yoon Suk Yeol, the prioritization of gender equality remains a concerning question for development advocates. The former conservative prosecutor considers himself an ‘anti-feminist’ and called for the abolition of the MOGEF. He has blamed the low birth rate in South Korea on feminism and leveraged sexist sentiments among the electorate to win votes in the election. He has also stated that he does not believe that gender-based systemic and structural discrimination exist in South Korea.

In its 2024 Annual Implementation Plan, the government focused on improving women’s economic and social status by strengthening women’s economic capabilities and promoting women’s human rights. In line with this strategy, the ODA budget allocated to the MOGEF increased from KRW9.1 billion, or US$7.1 million, in 2022 to KRW9.8 billion, or US$7.6 million in 2024. Although the current administration does not support gender, gender ODA increased due to the establishment of the UN Women Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality in Seoul.

Gender equality is included as one of the six basic pillars for development in South Korea’s Framework Act on International Development Cooperation.

KOICA’s Mid-term Sectoral Strategy 2021-2025 focuses on three strategic objectives for gender:

  • Economic empowerment
  • Social status; and
  • Basic rights.

Gender is included as a cross-cutting sector for maximizing South Korea’s contributions to the SDGs, and gender mainstreaming is included within individual CPSs. President Yoon Suk Yeol's promise in his election campaign to abolish the MOGEF has been stalled as 0f 2024, and funding for gender increased in the 2024 ODA budget.

On November 30, 2023, the MOFA hosted the 5th International Conference on Action with Women and Peace under the theme of the promoting women, peace, and security agenda at the UN Security Council. The conference was convened as part of the Women, Peace and Security Initiative, launched by the MOFA in 2018. The initiative has aimed to contribute to international discourse on women, peace, and security. The UN Women Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality was established in Seoul in 2022 with support from MOGEF to improve the implementation of normative and policy frameworks and address discriminatory social norms and practices that perpetuate gender inequality in Asia and the Pacific.

Key Bodies

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