Equal rights and opportunities for women and girls

In many developing countries, men and women are not treated as equals. The Netherlands supports organisations that challenge this inequality and combat violence against women and girls.

Inequality between men and women still exists all over the world. In its efforts to tackle gender inequality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs focuses on 4 themes in its foreign policy that are concerned with women’s rights and gender equality:

  1. Promoting female leadership and participation by women in political and other forms of decision-making. 
  2. Increasing economic empowerment and fostering a better economic climate for women. 
  3. Preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.
  4. Strengthening the role of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and protecting women and girls in conflict situations. 

Our policy is guided by the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls. To read about the results of our policy on women’s rights and gender equality, visit the website Development Cooperation Portal 2021
We work on these four themes through gender programmes, gender diplomacy and gender mainstreaming.

Gender programmes 

The Netherlands has one of the world’s biggest funds for the promotion of equal rights for women and girls in all their diversity, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights: the SDG5 Fund, worth a total of €500 million over the period 2021-2025. The SDG5 Fund is associated with the Strengthening Civil Society policy framework.
The SDG5 Fund includes the following instruments: 

  • Power of Women (PoW) 
  • Women, Peace and Security (WPS)
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Partnership Fund (SRHR)
  • Leading from the South (LFS)

The Power of Voices programme also focuses on women’s rights organisations, as part of the Strengthening Civil Society policy framework. 

Power of Women

This fund supports women’s organisations, specifically in the area of capacity building for advocacy. It has a budget of almost €70 million, which women’s rights organisations can use for activities in support of women’s political leadership, economic participation and empowerment, and tackling violence against women and girls. 

Women, Peace and Security (WPS)

WPS focuses on protecting women and girls in conflict regions and strengthening their role in peace talks. The fund helps to implement the Netherlands’ National Action Plan 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 9 countries. Capacity building for advocacy for women’s rights organisations is a major element of this effort. The WPS fund contains almost €35 million. 

SRHR Partnership Fund 

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), including in the area of HIV/AIDS, are supported through the SRHR Partnership Fund, providing capacity building for advocacy for women’s rights organisations. These efforts include providing better access to family planning products and sharing information about the risks of unprotected sex. The SRHR partnerships have a total budget of €315 million.

Leading from the South 

This fund provides direct financing for women’s rights organisations, regional networks and feminist movements in the Global South through three regional women’s funds and a global fund for indigenous women. These funds are in an ideal position to tackle inequality in their communities. Leading from the South has a budget of €80 million for its goal of strengthening activism in support of the rights of women, girls and LGBTQI+ persons at regional, national and local level. 

Gender diplomacy 

The Netherlands uses gender diplomacy to campaign for better women’s rights and gender equality, and compliance with international agreements on these matters. The Netherlands collaborates in these efforts with like-minded countries. We also foster dialogue with countries that hold different views on these matters. The Netherlands also seeks to promote and protect women’s rights and gender equality in the context of international organisations like the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe and the United Nations (UN). In its gender diplomacy, the Netherlands focuses on protecting international agreements and standards and their implementation by UN member states, and on strengthening the international standards framework through, for instance, ambitious resolutions at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. 

Gender mainstreaming and a Feminist Foreign Policy

The Netherlands works for gender equality by integrating women’s rights and gender equality into all aspects of its foreign policy. In practice, this means that the specific interests of women and girls are considered in policy and programmes focused on human rights, security, foreign trade and international cooperation. The recently announced feminist foreign policy is essentially about complete equality between all individuals; the policy will be fleshed out over the coming period.