Research


Image credit: DfID (Flickr)

Image credit: DfID (Flickr)

The high-level event on women’s empowerment and sustainable development took place in Riga, Latvia, on 2 March. The event was jointly hosted by the European Commission and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the European Year for Development.  It aimed to identify possible solutions for ensuring women’s equal rights and access to the market and economic resources and for unlocking women’s economic potential.

We produced the conference background note, in which gender expert Helen O’Connell considered the following key issues:

  • why gender equality and women and girls’ rights matter in development;
  • where gender equality and women’s empowerment stand in development goals and frameworks;
  • the challenges for women’s economic empowerment;
  • four strategic interventions to empower women economically; and
  • the EU’s role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in global development.

Read the post on the European Year for Development website and watch videos of the conference.


Image: United Nations

Image: United Nations

The EU’s early experience with implementing State Building Contracts (SBCs) could provide a useful resource for donor agencies to inform their thinking on providing budget support in fragile states. A study by Myra Bernardi, Tom Hart and Gideon Rabinowitz draws preliminary lessons from case studies on the two largest SBCs adopted by the EU in sub-Saharan Africa: Mali, a country in transition after a period of crisis; and South Sudan, a chronically fragile country.

Read more and download the report here.

Credit: Breezy Baldwin, Flickr

Credit: Breezy Baldwin, Flickr

The EU’s Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (GAP) runs to December 2015 and discussions on what its successor should comprise are underway. Our latest paper, More of the same, or radical change? Options for the successor to the EU’s Gender Action Plan 2010-2015, makes the case for why the EU needs to accelerate action on gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. It examines shortcomings in the current EU approach and draws on examples of best practice to develop proposals for a future framework and plan. It proposes three options:

  1.  A Gender Action Plan II that builds on the GAP, retains the focus on process alone, but aims to sharpen its focus.
  2. A Gender Action Plan Plus that emphasises accelerated and increased support focused on two priority gender equality, rights and empowerment areas to deliver tangible results relatively quickly.
  3. A new comprehensive framework and action plan comprising a more ambitious approach, that tackles the structural bases of gender inequality, its intersection with other inequalities and its impact on rights, and concentrates accelerated and increased investment in three to four essential programme areas (primarily in political and economic development) and on three key processes.

Regardless of the form the successor takes, the paper explains why it can no longer be regarded as a development aid matter, solely under the responsibility of the Development Commissioner. It concludes that a radical shift is needed in the EU’s approach to achieving gender equality and ensuring all women and girls have the right to participate fully in all spheres, which, in turn, will contribute to achieving sustainable development.

Download the paper here, or refer to our 2013 review on the implementation of the GAP here.

Chad food programme DG ECHO

Image: Rein Skullerud, Flickr

As the new EU leadership team prepares to take office in Brussels, we’ve joined forces with our partners in the European Think Tanks Group (ETTG) with our latest publication: ‘Our Collective Interest: Why Europe’s problems need global solutions and global problems need European action’.

In this report, 28 authors from the four think tanks argue that the EU’s ambitions for its own citizens – for prosperity, peace and environmental sustainability – cannot be divorced from its global responsibilities and opportunities. A collective effort is in our shared interest.

We identified five global problems which will shape the future of the EU and the world, and where the EU has a comparative advantage to act:

  • The world economy
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Peace and security
  • Democracy and human rights
  • Poverty and inequality.

Read the full report here and see this infographic for a summary of our recommendations. The executive summary is available in French, German and Spanish.

Our latest study, undertaken for the European Parliament’s Committee on Development, analyses the strengths and weaknesses of currentAfghan%20men,%20guns%20and%20tank_jpg EU engagement in fragile states, in particular its support to conflict prevention and periods of transition, within the broader international context. It examines the limitations of the instruments and methods implemented by the EU to address the problems of fragile states, and makes a number of recommendations to improve them.

Key weaknesses of the EU’s programmes in fragile and conflict-affected states include insufficient analysis of the root causes of fragility, ineffective early warning systems, and insufficient coordination with other international actors engaged in fragile and conflict affected states.

Although these challenges are not dissimilar to those experienced by other international actors, the EU’s performance is exacerbated by a number of factors that are specific to its organisational and resourcing arrangements: internal fragmentation of policy responsibility, inadequate translation of policy into programming at country level, and insufficient instrumental coherence. Investing in expertise in fragility and conflict-prevention has not, to date, been a priority, particularly at the operational level.

Read the report by Mikaela Gavas, Fiona Davies and Alastair McKechnie here.

The European Commission proposed policy of ‘differentiation’ aims to recalibrate aid and development cooperation in middle-incoUrbanisation%20in%20Asia_jpgme countries. The policy responds directly to recent changes in global poverty and wealth patterns, economic flows and geopolitical realities. In an increasingly heterogeneous development landscape, the EU has initiated a multifaceted approach in an effort to ‘differentiate’ between the diverging needs and capacities of developing countries.

Differentiation is a key feature of the EU’s new development strategy, An Agenda for Change, and will shape the future of EU development cooperation over its multi-year budget period that will run from 2014 to 2020 (European Commission, 2011a). The policy will determine the allocation of EU development aid to developing countries, shape decisions on the type of modalities used and the sector focus in middle-income countries, and will ultimately change the EU’s relations with these countries.

In a recent background note , Sian Herbert provides an overview of the state of play of negotiations on differentiation, with a focus on the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Development Fund.

Read the paper here.

The EU first aLifting women out of povertyrticulated its policy commitment to gender equality in development cooperation in 1995, following the Beijing UN Women’s Conference, and has redefined it several times since.

A growing awareness of the gap between EU policy and practice on gender equality on the part of several Member States led the European Commission to draft an operational framework to strengthen implementation: the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (Gender Action Plan). The EU recognised that, despite progress over recent decades, women and girls continue to make up the large majority of the world’s poorest, and women are underrepresented in governments and decision-making bodies, have fewer opportunities and receive lower pay than men in labour and financial markets. There was also concern that the financial and economic crisis could hamper progress already achieved towards gender equality. The Gender Action Plan was included as an Annex to the 2010 Council Conclusions on the MDGs, raising its profile and linking gender equality firmly, if narrowly, to achievement of the MDGs.

In a recent EDCSP research report, Helen O’Connell focuses on the implementation of the Gender Action Plan. The paper explores what has been achieved, identifies challenges and proposes a series of actions to accelerate progress. It also assesses the extent to which the Action Plan remains up to date and, in particular, the extent to which it includes a central economic perspective.

Read the paper here.

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