The EU pursues a twin-track approach to gender equality in development cooperation: gender mainstreaming and gender specific actions in a number of areas. Activities range between

  • capacity-building for developing countries
  • support for women's organisations
  • disseminating information on gender equality through guidelines, best practices and awareness raising

Gender equality should also be included in the political and policy dialogue with partner countries.

In cooperation with the European External Action Service and EU countries, the European Commission aims to implement the action plan set out in the working document on 'Gender equality and women’s empowerment: transforming the lives of girls and women through EU external relations, 2016-2020'.

This document aims to support partner countries, especially in developing, enlargement and neighbouring countries, to achieve real results in the area of gender equality as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted on 25 September 2015 during the opening plenary of the UN Sustainable Development Summit. At the heart of the agenda are 17 sustainable development goals which are supplemented by 169 targets. The goals apply from 2016 to 2030.

The EU has successfully negotiated to have a stand-alone goal for gender equality objective with nine specific sub-targets. These contain new targets on eliminating violence against women, on recognising unpaid care and domestic work and on universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. In addition there is an explicit commitment to gender mainstreaming of all sustainable development goals, targets and indicators.

Gender equality in the 2017 European Consensus on Development

The 2017 European Consensus on Development constitutes a comprehensive common framework for European development cooperation. This consensus commits the EU and EU countries to include a strong gender component in all their policies and practices in its relations with developing countries. Among the key objectives is strengthening policy dialogue to empower women and girls, promoting their important role in development and change and increasing targeted action towards gender equality.

Candidate countries

EU candidate countries must fully embrace the fundamental principle of equality between women and men. Monitoring the transposition, implementation and enforcement of EU legislation in this area remains a priority of the enlargement process.