Gender equality

Gender equality

Gender equality


Gender Equality and empowerment of women and girls are fundamental human rights. Both are vital for economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. Gender equality is an essential precondition for equitable and inclusive sustainable development, which will not take place if half of the world’s population is left behind.

Despite the progress made, the level of achievement of gender equality has been uneven across regions and within countries. Worldwide, girls and women continue to be systematically left behind and discriminated against and persistent violations of their rights occur on a daily basis.

The European Union firmly supports gender equality and empowerment of women worldwide, working towards the removal of the obstacles as legislation, social norms and gender stereotypes to ensure that we give voice and participation to increase girls’ and women’s agency in social, economic, political and civil life. 

The crucial significance of gender in EU development policies is recognized in various policy documents. The"EU Strategic engagement for gender equality" highlights as one of its five thematic priority areas the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights across the world. 

In October 2015 the EU adopted the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Transforming Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations (2016-2020). This renewed Gender Action Plan focuses on taking action and transforming lives through four pivotal areas: 

  • Ensuring girls’ and women’s physical and psychological integrity
  • Promoting the economic and social rights / empowerment of girls and women
  • Strengthening girls’ and women’s voice and participation
  • Shifting the European Commission services’ and the European External Action Services’ institutional culture to more effectively deliver on EU commitments.

Furthermore, in the European Consensus on Development the promotion of women's rights and the empowerment of women and girls and their protections will be a priority across all areas of actions.

In September 2017, the EU launched a major new initiative to be implemented by the UN – the 'Spotlight Initiative'. With unprecedented funding of EUR 500 million, we want to start a global movement to end all forms of violence against women and girls. 



  • In the period 2007-2013, the EU committed an amount of around EUR 1,258 million to activities targeted at improving gender equality and girls’ and women’s empowerment.
  • Provisional OECD data shows that in 2013, 39% of the EU Official Development Assistance (ODA) considered gender dimensions as either significant or principal.


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