France’s “Gender and Development Strategy”

The principle of equality is one the priorities of France’s international policy, as demonstrated by the new "Gender and Development Strategy 2013-2017" of the Ministry.

Objectives and principles for action

The "Gender and Development Strategy" is in line with French national priorities and dialogue with civil society, involving the partners involved in promoting women’s rights. Several initiatives are implemented in partnership with international solidarity organizations in order to raise awareness, conduct advocacy and mainstream gender in official development assistance (ODA).

There is also an emphasis on taking into account the sectoral forms of cooperation, through building the capacities of stakeholders and partners in external action (the French development agency, the Agence française de développement – AFD; French Institute; Campus France; and France Expertise International) as well as decentralized cooperation. France focuses in particular on research, data collection and contextual analysis.

The “Gender and Development Strategy” aims to provide an operational tool to change approaches to framing, implementing and following up/assessing cooperation efforts. It helps take greater account of the structuring factors that are at the root of inequalities and discrimination. Projects should be examined upstream using the gender analytical framework. Downstream, the results obtained should indicate a change in support of strengthening women’s empowerment and respect for their fundamental rights.

In influence and advocacy terms, France makes gender equality a component of bilateral, European and multilateral dialogue. By acting at several levels, the gender tool’s integration could be an accelerating factor in societal change processes.

Gender approaches

France’s gender mainstreaming approach is based on four fundamental principles:

  • The rights approach :Combating poverty is intrinsically linked to reducing gender discrimination. Improving the main development indicators involves building women’s capacities, making them more autonomous and giving them decision-making power. This approach is linked to the principle of empowerment.
  • The effectiveness approach : Women are a lever for change. As several studies have shown, including the World Bank’s 2012 report, investing in equality and reducing discrimination has a direct impact on eliminating poverty and extreme poverty. Gender mainstreaming is thus a tool for political transformation and an accelerating factor for the effectiveness and viability of development efforts.
  • Empowerment :The notion of empowerment has both individual and collective aspects. It is related to access to power and decision-making spheres in the political, economic and community areas.
  • The life cycle approach: The gender approach includes taking into account the specific needs of the different demographic categories and age and population groups. Tackling the gender equality issues implies in-depth knowledge of the needs and status of a specific population. For example, adolescence is an age when vulnerability factors are high. Development efforts aimed at young boys or girls need to address their specific and strategic needs.

Areas of action

The areas of action promoted in the new Gender and Development Strategy focus on building resources and capacities to improve gender mainstreaming in all cooperation actions and sectors:

  • All programmes and projects will have to take into account gender analysis. This involves gender specific analysis of women’s conditions and status, access and enjoyment of resources, and access to decision-making spheres. In addition to systemic analysis, actions will have to analyse their different impacts on men and women and select indicators contributing to equality and the fight against discrimination.
  • Building stakeholder capacities: a training plan for staff of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the partner network will involve awareness-raising sessions and practical sessions on gender mainstreaming. A methodology including operational tools will be developed to facilitate gender mainstreaming in development.
  • Appointing gender and development correspondents in the Ministry’s network and the operator and partner network.These staff are trained, managing and pooling best practices across departments.
  • Supporting and promoting research work, with the aim of better understanding gender issues in specific contexts through support for French and French-speaking expertise in gender and development.
  • Accountability: gender must be mainstreamed in all development efforts and tangible results are needed in terms of gender equality.

Updated May 2014