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Gender equality

Gender equality is essential for growth and poverty reduction, and it is key to reaching the Millennium Development Goals. However, gender inequalities are still entrenched in many cultural, social and political systems. In the developing world, women suffer disproportionately from poverty and its related ills, such as malnutrition, poor health and illiteracy.

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  The Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and UN Women, signed on 16 April 2012

, reaffirms the partnership between the two organisations to support gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world and ensures closer collaboration; sharing information, expertise and analysis in order to effectively advance women’s rights. Cooperation will primarily focus on ensuring women’s representation in decision-making in the fields of economics, politics and justice worldwide, as well as better access for women to work and social opportunities. Crucially, the partnership will see the two organisations coming together to take action on combating sexual and gender-based violence. This includes a commitment to provide more support and protection to survivors of violence and increasing access to support and services for those women affected.



  Winners gender drawing competition 2011
14 young children coming from 13 different countries all over the world have been selected, by a peer jury of children, as final winners of the international drawing competition on gender equality.

  International Women's Day 2011

The 8th March marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. The EU is working to improve the lives of women and girls throughout the world.  Here you can find concrete examples of how we help.

Financial support

For the period 2007 - 2013, the EU external co-operation in the field of gender equality and women empowerment is financed through:

  • geographical instruments (EDF, DCI and ENPI) at national and regional level;
  • thematic instruments: Investing in People and Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. The focus is put on improving literacy among adult women and addressing inequalities in countries where women's lives are shaped by customary laws; empowerment of women in conflict situations and ensuring greater coordination between donors and national governments to support progress towards gender equality.

Background information

Gender equality is enshrined in the EU Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The EU Roadmap for Equality between Women and Men identifies the promotion of gender equality in external and development policies as one of the six priority areas for five years between 2006 and 2010. The European Consensus on Development highlights the importance of gender equality in the development process as an essential factor in strengthening the impact and sustainability of EU development cooperation.

The EU's strategy Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation  aims to help promote equal political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights for women and men. The Toolkit on mainstraiming Gender equality provides concrete operational guidelines on how to mainstream gender equality in country programming and the different modalities of aid implementation.

Last update: 15/01/2014 | Top