Women's rights

Gender equality – A basic principle of German development policy

Woman from Mali speaking at an event

"Equal rights, equal duties, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men" is one of the basic principles of German development policy. Gender equality and the implementation of women’s rights are of crucial importance for human rights-based, socially equitable, sustainable development of societies. Promoting gender equality is therefore a cross-cutting task and an attribute that touches all areas of German development cooperation.

Germany’s policy is based on international agreements on women’s rights, the objective being to enable women and men to participate in the development process on an equal footing, and to achieve women’s empowerment in the long term.

Gender Equality Strategy

The Strategy Paper on Gender Equality in German Development Policy adopted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in May 2014 contains binding requirements which the BMZ and implementing organisations must adhere to when shaping development cooperation. Germany pursues a three-pronged approach to the promotion of gender equality:

  1. Gender mainstreaming: The various living conditions and interests and potentials of women and men are taken into account in all development projects. The gender-sensitive planning and implementation of bilateral development cooperation (projects, programmes, priority area strategies, political dialogue) means the concerns of women and girls are appropriately taken into account.
  2. Support measures specifically for women: Germany is committed to supporting projects geared specifically to women in order to compensate for discrimination against them and to help them realise their rights.
  3. Women’s rights in development policy dialogue: Women’s rights and gender equality are systematically included in bilateral and multilateral development policy dialogue. The German government seeks through its engagement at the highest political level to ensure respect, protection and fulfilment of women’s and girls’ rights.

Gender Action Plan and annual road maps

In its second Development Policy Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016–2020 (GAP II) the BMZ has committed to increasing its promotion of gender equality and the enforcement of women’s rights. Through GAP II the BMZ is actively and measurably contributing to the achievement of global targets such as those set in the 2030 Agenda and to implementation of the commitments which the G7 entered into at the 2015 Summit in Elmau.

  • The measures set out in GAP II cover nine sector-specific issues: access to justice and political participation; rural development, agriculture and food security; prevention of violence against women and girls; protecting women and girls in armed conflict, peacekeeping and displacement; education; gainful employment and economic empowerment; health; water and sanitation; climate change and sustainable development.
  • Seven cross-sectoral activities serve to boost the impact of the measures implemented in regard to the sector-specific issues: cooperation with men; tackling multiple discrimination; gender equality in development financing; empowering women and girls through sport; gender competence and knowledge management; measures to implement the gender approach; and strengthening women’s organisations.

Annual road maps provide an overview of priority measures and activities along with concrete impacts to be achieved. The first road map covers 10 priorities to be addressed in the period 2016 to mid-2017, including

  • updating the G7 initiative on women’s economic empowerment to include better education and training for women and girls,
  • providing better protection to displaced women and girls and increasing their participation in peacebuilding processes and
  • ensuring gender equality when implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The BMZ’s concept of human rights

To ensure that human rights become more systematically mainstreamed into German development policy, in May 2011 the BMZ published a strategy paper entitled Human Rights in German Development Policy. The strategy paper highlights the human rights principle of non-discrimination and also deals specifically with the rights of women.

BMZ glossary

Close window


Share page