Taking action for gender equality in development projects

Achieving gender equality is essential to ensure real sustainable development. In line with the French strategy in this respect, Expertise France works to bring about systemic changes and systematically integrates gender into all the components of its operations.

Gender equality is a prerequisite to effectively reducing poverty, promoting the key issues of sustainable development – in the economic, social and environmental areas – and the conditions for good governance, while increasing the stability of countries. In this respect, it is essential to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN and it is central to the action of Expertise France.

This requires addressing the structural causes of gender inequality in order to bring about systemic changes in terms of rights, social status and elimination of all forms of discriminations suffered by women and girls in all areas: economy, education, health, access to decision-making spaces, security and social protection.

As the French public agency for international cooperation, Expertise France’s action on gender and gender equality is part of the French and European strategic frameworks through the feminist diplomacy led by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs as well as the Agence Française de Développement Group strategic framework. It aims to bring about systemic changes and systematically include the gender dimension in its priority areas of operation:

• Democratic, economic and financial governance;

• Peace, stability and security;

• Climate, agriculture and sustainable development;

• Health and human development.


Participating in ambitious strategies

The agency’s actions are part of the European strategic framework, through the 2021-2025 European Gender Action Plan for gender equality and women empowerment through external action (GAP III) and of the national strategic framework with the third French International Strategy for Gender Equality (2018-2022).

Since August 2021, the planning law for inclusive development and to combat global inequalities provides that the State commits to ensuring that, by 2025:

• Equality between women and men is the main or a significant objective in 75% of the annual volume of commitments of French bilateral official development assistance, according to the markers of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD ;
• It is the main objective in 20% of these commitments.

Furthermore, AFD Group has made the social link a priority focus in its strategy, to make sure its activity is “100% Social Link”. All of AFD's actions aim to make it one of the donors committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly on the gender issue. The 100% Social Link Strategy thus makes gender equality a priority for the Group's action, which now includes Expertise France.


Expertise France’s roadmap for gender equality

Expertise France operationalises these strategic frameworks in its Gender Equality Roadmap for 2020-2022 by setting ambitious objectives for its teams. Based on a concrete and operational approach, close to the local realities and partners’ needs, it aims to provide a global framework and vision of the agency’s actions in the gender area by mainstreaming gender systematically in internal activities and at all stages of the development of projects.  

This roadmap provides Expertise France with the means to achieve the objective set in its Contract of Objectives and Means with the State: achieve at least 50% of new contracts signed with a DAC 2 or DAC 1 marker according to OECD criteria, by 2022.


To evaluate the level of inclusion of the gender dimension in projects, Expertise France uses the OECD gender equality marker.

This progressive indicator makes it possible to identify the level of inclusion of gender in the project objective.



This roadmap is based on four major pillars:

1. A rights-based approach which includes international norms, rules and principles on human rights into the policies and processes of humanitarian and development operations.

2. Using gender as a methodological tool: it results in the sociological understanding of gender inequalities to develop projects.

3. An integrated and measured approach which addresses gender equality as a whole, in a coherent way, and where all issues feed one another.

4. A broad approach based on 2 additional components:

• The systemic component which brings about changes to strengthen the institutional, political and organisational support for gender, both internally and externally.

• The thematic component which aims to include gender into all Expertise France’s projects regardless of the thematic area of operation. With this commitment, the agency is due to bring the subject to the attention of its project partners.


Raising awareness, assisting and training

Expertise France is strengthening the capacities of its teams at headquarters and in the field by developing materials tailored to their needs:

• The “Gender and Development” MOOC, an online training course for development professionals and students, created in partnership with the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Agence Française de Développement. The MOOC is available in French on the Campus AFD website. It allows participant to understand better “the integrated approach to gender” at each stage of the development of projects and within areas of operations: human development (health and education), political and economic empowerment, peace and security and sustainable development.

• A Gender Expertise: The operational teams are supported by a gender expert from the development of their projects. Based at Expertise France headquarters, she helps them to take gender equality into account and make sure their project is gender-marked.

Thematic and methodological factsheets are provided to the teams to promote the inclusion of gender at each stage of projects.


A selection of projects


Mainstreaming gender into projects in a cross-cutting manner: the example of L'Initiative

Launched in late 2011, L’Initiative is a facility implemented by Expertise France and complementary to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It provides technical assistance and support for innovation to Global Fund recipient countries. The objective is to improve the effectiveness of its grants and strengthen the health impact of the funded programmes.


• Recognising the link between gender and pandemics

The international community will not put an end to the major pandemics without paying increased attention to gender inequalities, which are major barriers to access to health services. L’Initiative therefore considers gender as a key development issue and has included it in its strategy for 2020-2022.

Watch the webinar Gender & Pandemics (in French)

The place of gender in L'Initiative

1. Mainstreaming the gender approach into missions and projects: raising the awareness of experts, taking it into account in the evaluation and implementation of projects.

2. Reflection on mainstreaming gender into technical assistance missions: development of an online awareness-raising webinar and a toolkit.

3. Strengthening calls for projects with a guidance note on gender, the review and support for the projects selected by a gender mainstreaming specialist.

To find out more: www.initiative5pour100.fr



MPACOS – Putting patients at the centre of primary healthcare in Chad

2019-2022 – EUR 4m (AFD)

Following on from the Health Sector Support Project (PASST2), the MPACOS project is contributing to the implementation of the Government of Chad’s health policy, which aims to:

 • Improve the availability and use of maternal, neonatal and child health services and sexual and reproductive health services;

 • Raise awareness of family planning and women’s rights.

To achieve these objectives, the MPACOS project’s approach is to strengthen health systems involving communities, caregivers and management teams.

More about MPACOS


EU4WE – European Union for Women Empowerment in Lebanon

2019-2022 – EUR 2.4m (European Union)

The EU4WE project aims to fight against gender inequalities in Lebanon in a sustainable manner. It is based on two objectives:

 • Strengthen the empowerment of Lebanese women in order to combat domestic violence in a sustainable manner;

 • Support the institutional mechanisms working on gender issues to ensure gender is better taken into account in public policies.

To achieve these objectives, the project is based on three areas of operation: entrepreneurship, justice and strengthening institutional actors involved in the promotion of gender equality in Lebanon.

More about EU4WE


EUROsociAL+ (Gender Equality Policies area)

2016-2021 - EUR 8.1m (European Union)

The Gender Equality Policies area of the EUROsociAL+ programme implemented by Expertise France aims to strengthen public policies for gender equality in 19 Latin American countries in order to build social cohesion.

The component responds to requests from Latin American institutions and is based on four areas:

 • Physical empowerment;

 • Economic empowerment and care;

 • Political empowerment;

 • Gender mainstreaming: statistics, national equality plans, institutionalisation, gender-responsive budgeting.

More about the Gender area

Watch the replay of the #RDVExpertise on Gender Equality (in French)

June 2022 - Fight against gender-based violence


June 2021 - Gender justice and development: how can we build egalitarian societies?

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