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Gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment: our approach and priorities

Toolkit/guidelines

Written by Sara Pantuliano, Caroline Harper, Nicola Jones, Francesca Bastagli, Megan Daigle, Pilar Domingo, Rachel Marcus, Fiona Samuels, Abigail Hunt, Rebecca Holmes, Paola Pereznieto, Rachel George, Carmen Leon-Himmelstine, Maria Stavropoulou, Paulina Padilla, Hannah Bass

Hero image description: Guinea: a rural women’s cooperative Image credit:UN Women/Joe Saade Image license:CC BY-NC-ND
Guinea: a rural women’s cooperative
Image credit:UN Women/Joe Saade ~ Image license:CC BY-NC-ND

Progress towards gender equality is being made across the world, but it is widely variable and hard to advance at pace. Gender inequality continues to pervade; discriminatory gendered norms prevail and resistance to change is common. Women and girls still lack control over economic, social and political resources. Stark disparities remain between women, and between women and men, influenced by intersecting factors such as gender, age, disability, ethnicity and class. 

  • While more women are in work, this has not been matched by better employment conditions or equal pay. 
  • Unpaid care and domestic work restrict women’s economic potential and can impose double workloads.
  • Violence against women and girls is alarmingly prevalent.
  • Disparities in educational access and attainment persist. 
  • Maternal mortality rates are considerably off target for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by diseases including HIV and AIDS.
  • Women’s say in decision-making – from formal political participation to decision-making roles in the private sector, public bureaucracies and the home – is limited.
Ecuador: women protest against gender-based violence
Image credit:UN Women/Johis Alarcón ~ Image license:CC BY-NC-ND

ODI provides independent research, evaluation, analysis and advice to inform policies and practices that advance gender justice. Our interdisciplinary approach allows us to engage with the complexities of change and offer politically smart and contextually relevant analysis and advice. 

We work with influential partners to raise the profile of gender issues at key international moments and use our research findings to inform high-level and locally relevant political and policy processes. We work with research partners and communities on long-standing issues, as well as engaging in emerging policy agendas to encourage the adoption of a gender lens across the development sphere, from peace-building to climate change.

Our work, outlined in this booklet, focuses on six strategic priority areas:

  1. Political and economic empowerment and leadership 
  2. Education
  3. Reducing risk and promoting gender-transformative humanitarian action
  4. Health, psychosocial well-being and freedom from violence
  5. Gender norms and institutional change
  6. Gender equality in development practice
Sara Pantuliano, Caroline Harper, Nicola Jones, Francesca Bastagli, Megan Daigle, Pilar Domingo, Rachel Marcus, Fiona Samuels, Abigail Hunt, Rebecca Holmes, Paola Pereznieto, Rachel George, Carmen Leon-Himmelstine, Maria Stavropoulou, Paulina Padilla and Hannah Bass