Inequality between men and women is still deeply embedded in societies. While progress has been made, disasters and crises such as climate change, pandemics or armed conflicts such as the recent war in Ukraine continue to set back the goals that have been achieved and pose new challenges to gender equality commitments. Whether it is a question of access to decent work, gender-specific differences in employment and discrimination in pay, access to digital and other future technologies, basic economic protections or access to political and economic decision-making structures – women are generally worse off.
Amplified by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or patriarchal regimes, many women and girls experience limited access to healthcare services and education. The same applies to financial services. As a result, women often lack opportunities to earn a living independently and they remain dependent on their family or are exploited. If young women marry early and fall pregnant, they lack the time for education and employment. Violence against women also rises - and not only in armed conflicts. Women's knowledge and experience, e. g. with regard to the impacts of climate change or biodiversity, are often ignored. In addition, discriminatory laws exclude women from societal decisions, political participation and from land and inheritance rights. Women spend three times as much time as men looking after children or other people in need of care and doing (unpaid) housework, which leads to time poverty as well as lower income and consequently lower pension payments.
All this, while gender equality between women and men is a human right. It is a prerequisite for sustainable development and contributes to significantly improving quality of life for all people. A fair and inclusive society, a sustainable and successful economy and a forward-looking approach to the environment can only be attained if women and girls are included. The empowerment of women also has a multiplier effect: while women spend about 90% of their income on the health, education and nutrition of their families, men spend only about 30 - 40%.
The advancement of gender equality and strengthening of women’s rights are therefore a priority for international and German development policy and a core aspect of the 2030 Agenda. With the new legislative period, the BMZ is committed to a feminist development policy with the goal of realising human rights and the equal participation of all people in social, political and economic life – regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, skin colour, disability or other characteristics. To this end, a new strategy was presented in March 2023 that emphasises intersectionality, partner orientation, participation and the postcolonial, anti-racist understanding of German development policy. The "3 Rs" were identified as central areas of intervention:
While SDG 5 focuses exclusively on gender equality and empowering women, another 45 sub-goals and 54 indicators include gender equality as a key factor for the overall sustainability agenda.
Through its projects, KfW is working to advance gender equality and empower women around the world, thereby helping to implement the 2030 Agenda.
In 2022, many projects of KfW Development Bank contributed to achieving SDG 5. With more than EUR 205 million, gender equality is strengthened as the main goal. In addition, numerous projects with a total financial volume of almost EUR 4.3 billion promote gender equality as an important secondary goal. KfW therefore supports its partners in strengthening gender equality and advancing the rights of women in partner countries through each of the respective projects and programmes. Within the framework of the feminist development policy, the share of project funds that contribute to gender equality is to be increased to 93% by 2025
Whether as an employee in the laboratory of a Georgian sewage treatment plant, a teacher in a newly built school in Maputo, a scholarship holder in a Kenyan secondary school or an entrepreneur who uses a loan to set up a confectionery company and creates jobs - in the picture gallery you will get to know very different women who all benefit from KfW projects.