Gender inequalities remain around the world and are getting worse in certain cases. Confronted with this, France is reinforcing the coherence and effectiveness of “gender” actions in its development assistance policies and its outreach initiatives. The 3ʳᵈ International Strategy for Gender Equality (2018-2022) is a steering tool designed to coordinate the work over the next five years and improve the situation of women around the world. The strategy is the concrete international embodiment of the President’s commitment to make gender equality the great cause of his term.
Women and girls are the first to be affected by poverty, conflict and climate change. Their place in society means they have to face difficulties and discrimination everywhere and in all fields.
Sexual violence as a weapon of war
Peace and stability are not the norm around the world. Global warming, tension over natural resources and socio-economic inequalities are crucible of crises and conflicts of which women are often the primary victims. In certain countries, sexual violence may be used as a weapon of war with the aim of terrorising populations.
Women’s right to have control over their own bodies
Universal access to sexual and reproductive rights is an essential condition for the empowerment of young women.
- Certain laws are still excessively hindering girls and women’s access to sexual and reproductive health, this threatens their fundamental right to having control over their own bodies and contributing to the development of their country’s social progress.
- Complications associated with risky abortions are the third-largest cause of maternal mortality. These deaths could all be avoided if high-quality services were made available to women.
- Girls married before the age of 18 are rarely capable of negotiating protected sexual relations with their partners and are often under pressure to prove their fertility. They are therefore particularly at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and marital violence, and are one of the least likely groups to have sexual education.
Demographic issues and women’s rights
In the 47 countries with the highest population growth, the increasing active population could be a genuine opportunity for development provided that this young population – both girls and boys – is healthy, educated and has access to high-quality employment.
The five areas of intervention of France’s International Strategy aim to put the issue of gender equality at the heart of all the work carried out and supported by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs including development cooperation and economic, soft, cultural and academic diplomacy.
Lead by example
Everything starts with a good example and the Ministry has therefore decided to increase its work for gender equality and balance within its teams and those of its agencies. These include:
- increasing the number of women in management and ambassador positions;
- raising awareness and providing training on gender issues for all ministry employees;
- Systematically including gender equality in the strategies and actions of the 12 agencies under the auspices of the Ministry. 
Bolstering political support for gender issues
To step up political advocacy for gender equality, it is necessary to include gender issues in all fields regardless of whether they are development-related or not and in all international fora. This is particularly the case for education, vocational training and job-market integration, humanitarian strategy, and issues relating to the climate, the economy, demographics, sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Strategy also advocates for gender equality issues to be tackled during bilateral political meetings and to be included in the work of diplomatic posts.
Better financing for actions for equality
To ensure the resources are available to act concretely, the proportion of official development assistance for equality is going to be increased. In particular, 50% of the financing provided by the Agence Française de Développement will be dedicated to projects which include an objective to reduce gender inequality.
Making action for equality more visible
Increasing visibility starts by communication without gender stereotypes. The Ministry and its agencies ensure they use feminine and masculine terminology in their messages therefore giving balanced social representations. And because indicators are the only way of knowing if assistance is effective, visibility also means establishing indicators to evaluate businesses’ actions.
Supporting civil society and sharing results
Using various sharing platforms between development stakeholders, the Strategy aims to develop discussions and feedback between NGOs, the private sector under Corporate Social Responsibility, research and public authorities. The expertise and visibility are strong drivers in gender equality. They will therefore be enhanced for French NGOs in the fields of women’s rights and gender.
 Agence Française de Développement, Expertise France, Institut Français, Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger, Campus France, Agence Française de Coopération Médias, France Médias Monde, Atout France, Business France, Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, France Volontaires and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement.