Results report 2015. Women's rights and gender equality

About the publication

  • Published: April 2016
  • Series: --
  • Type: Result reports
  • Carried out by: Norad
  • Commissioned by: --
  • Country: --
  • Theme: --
  • Pages: 112
  • Serial number: --
  • ISBN: 78-82-7548-867-9
  • ISSN: --
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Norad's annual results report was launched at the annual Norad conference on 9. December 2015. This year's topic is women's rights and gender equality. This report is in Norwegian, but a full-length version in English will be available here on this page in spring 2016.

Below you will find a short summary and the seven main messages from the report.   

Introduction by Jon Lomøy, Director General at Norad  

Norwegian support for women’s rights and gender equality is yielding results. We are seeing positive developments in many areas, and Norway has contributed to this. The results report demonstrates how our support can help girls and women to obtain an education, health services, electricity, water and capital to give them a better life and enhance their ability to care for themselves and their families. Occasionally, development assistance can make a direct contribution, but often it has to contribute indirectly.

Development assistance can generate new knowledge and create increased awareness of the magnitude, causes and effects of discrimination and lack of gender equality. This is important for the work of local actors to bring about change. The development assistance can thus help to reform laws and systems in order to make better provision for women’s rights and gender equality. It can also enable knowledge and awareness-raising to reach those who shape and uphold social norms and attitudes, so that the changes can be realized for both women and men in their local communities. 

This year’s results report also shows that the achievement of results may be challenging. We need to understand local conditions, and attitudes and norms among women as well as men, to be able contribute to change. Change is seldom rapid and linear, and in some areas development is almost at a standstill. In any case, development assistance can only play a limited role. It is the local change agents that must drive developments forward.

Extreme and violent forces are on the march in many places. Common to many of them is their resistance to women’s basic human rights, such as freedom of movement and participation in public life. The negative effects of this can be dramatic, as in the areas in which IS has operated in the Middle East or Boko Haram in Nigeria and some of its neighbouring countries. The civil war in Syria has resulted in a humanitarian crisis from which millions have been forced to flee.

Half of those who are registered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are girls and women, who are especially exposed to abuse in war, conflict and when fleeing. Future support must strengthen women’s security in these situations, and women must also be included in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction of their countries.

Norway is an important player in the international work for gender equality. Because we are perceived as a country that is at the forefront in many areas, we can be an inspiration; because we have considerable experience to share, we can smooth the path to gender equality for other countries; because we are prepared to confront controversial topics on the international stage, we can ensure that important but difficult topics remain on the agenda.

This year’s results report contains 24 examples of the results of Norwegian support for women’s rights and gender equality. This does not represent the total picture, but is a good illustration of results, challenges and the breadth of Norwegian commitment.

Norad’s results report is neither an evaluation of Norwegian development assistance, nor a research report, but the content is based on independent evaluations and research where available. The report is primarily intended to help inform the debate on the results of Norwegian development assistance. At the same time, we hope that it will be an inspiration for more and better gender equality efforts.

Main message

1. Significant progress for women’s rights and gender equality in the last fifteen years

The greatest progress has been made in the area of health and education. Two-thirds of developing countries will have achieved equal access to basic education for girls and boys in 2015.

Globally, maternal mortality has been reduced by 45 per cent since 2000. Women’s political and economic participation is increasing, but progress is slow and uneven.

2. The Millennium Development Goals have led to increased support for women’s rights and gender equality

Along with regular reporting on progress, the fact that gender equality was one of eight global development goals in 2000 has given this topic a higher political profile.

This has helped to increase international support for women’s rights and gender equality, and such support from the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s member countries was tripled from 2002 to 2013, representing a far higher growth than for development assistance as a whole.

3. Women’s rights and gender equality concern both basic human rights and smart economics

Universal human rights constitute a key basis for strengthening women’s rights and gender equality. Safeguarding women’s rights is therefore an objective in itself in Norwegian development policy. Gender equality can also help to achieve a greater development effect. The importance of reinforcing women’s rights and gender equality as a component of the fight against poverty has received greater attention in the past few decades.

4. Increased pressure against women’s rights demands efforts to defend established rights

Conservative and religious forces are powerful, and have created new alliances. Common to many of these is resistance to women’s rights and gender equality, particularly women’s sexual and reproductive rights. This is evident in the UN, for example, where strong alliances strive to limit rights that have been agreed internationally.

This means that resources that could previously be devoted to further development must now be concentrated on defending rights that are already encompassed by international norms.

5. There is a wide gap between commitment and implementation

There is still a wide gap between the commitments that many of the partner countries have made and actual implementation in the form of changes to legislation and policy.

It is therefore important to focus on the practical enforcement of rights.

6. The most difficult challenges remain

The most challenging tasks have still to be addressed. One such task is to reach the most marginalized women who, due to poverty, ethnicity, disability or place of residence, have been unable to participate in the positive developments that have taken place.

Another challenge is to help to change underlying power structures and social norms that legitimize violence perpetrated against women and girls, and prevent their participation in social, political and economic life.

Support for such change must take local change agents as a basis, and have a long timeline.

7. Norway has played an important role in the most controversial areas

In addition to its significant efforts to safeguard the rights of women and girls with regard to education and health, Norway has played an important role in targeting efforts towards particularly challenging and controversial areas, such as female genital mutilation, sexual and reproductive rights, and the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Published 08.12.2015
Last updated 08.12.2015