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Historically, and by design, power structures have favoured men; there is not a single country which is not a patriarchy, resulting in a worldwide gender gap which needs closing urgently.

A little background

Historically, and by design, power structures have favoured men; there is not a single country which is not a patriarchy, resulting in a worldwide gender gap. This gender gap takes on many forms; financially it means that globally, on average, women make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, leaving women more financially vulnerable. A lot has been done over the past decades to reduce the global gender gap and improve opportunities for women, girls, and non-binary people. Yet significant gender gaps remain across sectors in all countries across the world.  

According to UN Women, achieving full gender equality is still centuries away. Indeed, according to the progress of SDG5’s targets and indicators, the world is not even remotely on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. 

Key figures illustrating gender inequality worldwide. Source: Oxfam International, Gender justice and women’s rights (2023)

These numbers might be depressing, but it also shows how much room for progress there is, especially in the work of development and humanitarian organisations. We are not giving up, because there can be no social, climate or economic justice without gender justice.  

“The path to equal faces many obstacles. Yet it is the only path to a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”  

The paths to equal, UN Women & UNDP (2023) 

Gender equality vs. Gender equity 

Gender equity is necessary to achieve gender equality. Simply put, gender equity acknowledges that there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ path to equality because a shared ‘starting point’ does not exist. Therefore, the diverse needs of men, women and non-binary people call for different responses to achieve gender equality. 

The principles of gender equity directly align with human rights because the right to live life free of discrimination (including on the basis of gender), is enshrined in the UDHR and ICCPR. Cordaid is committed to these and other international agreements on gender equality, such as: the UNSC WPS resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122, 2242, 2467, 2493 and the CEDAW convention

Cordaid’s approach 

Cordaid concentrates on fragile and conflict-affected settings where poverty is linked to a lack of stability and governance. The health and well-being, opportunities and rights of women, girls, and groups that are vulnerable (such as non-binary people and LGBTQA+) suffer disproportionally from the insecurity and violence that define daily life in their communities. 

Violence against women and girls affects their economic and political opportunities, their mobility, their personal health, and their ability to get an education. The flipside of the coin is that gender inequality is also a fundamental cause of fragility, as it intersects with other power imbalances in the economic, political, and religious domains of social life.  

It is our mission to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in fragile and conflict-affected societies by promoting: economic empowerment, political participation, improved food security and access to health care. Within these areas, a gender transformative approach is taken in all programmes, specific gender standalone programmes are designed, and an enabling environment for Cordaid employees, partners and project participants is fostered. 


Words are important. Here’s how Cordaid defines, understands and applies gender-related terminology: viol

  • Gender equality: refers to the equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women, men and gender diverse people. 
  • Gender equity: the process to achieve equality, which at times means different treatments to achieve equal outcomes in terms of rights, opportunities, and benefits according to the respective needs of women, men, and gender diverse people. 
  • Intersectionality: coined by African American scholar, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, intersectionality is a way of thinking of inequality or disadvantage consisting of multiple, compounded obstacles. Issues of gender inequality are interconnected with other injustices and systems of oppression, such as colonisation, race and class discrimination. 
  • Gender transformative approach: the attempt to re-define gender roles and relations, also known as ‘gender positive’. 
  • Gender mainstreaming: a process that systematically integrates gender perspectives into legislation, public policies, programmes, and projects. 
  • Gender sensitive: an approach in project, programme and policy design which attempts to redress existing gender inequalities. 
  • Gender neutral: an approach which ensures that projects, programmes and policies do not reinforce existing gender inequalities. 
  • Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV): violence targeted at individuals or groups based on their gender. 

For more definitions related to gender, see our gender policy below. 

Cordaid’s Gender Policy 

A sound gender policy, capable of transforming power relations and levelling the power balance at the level of households, communities, services, and society at large, is key to the achievement of our goals. 

“As Cordaid we strive towards inclusiveness, thus we recognise that gender is not binary but a spectrum of gender identities and expressions.” 

Cordaid Gender Policy

Our gender policy outlines our commitment to gender equity and to achieving a gender transformative approach for all projects by 2030. The objective of our gender policy is to ensure that all genders participate in peace processes and can access appropriate sexual and reproductive health, and that women are free, capable, and enabled to exercise their human and economic rights. 

To that end, we follow these 4 operational principles: 

  1. For project design and programmes, include: gender and power analysis, programme strategy based on this analysis, a results frameworks with gender disaggregated indicators for monitoring & evaluation, and a gender marker to assess project proposals and implementation. 
  1. Collect gender and age-disaggregated data throughout all our programmes.  
  1. Integrate the gender dimension into thematic programmes and facilitate gender standalone programming where possible. 
  1. Appoint, train and coach gender focal points in each country office and sustain the Cordaid Gender Community of Practice (CoP).

Intersectional feminism

For Cordaid, working on gender means working with women, men, and non-binary people from diverse backgrounds and from an intersectional approach. This means we strive to work inclusively and to not discriminate based on gender, age, class, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or gender expression (LGBTQI+) and physical ability (disabled people). 

In our project evaluations and programme design we integrate results frameworks that include gender disaggregated indicators, ideally with intersectional approaches to monitor against and measure the results achieved in women empowerment and gender equality.  

Diversity and inclusion 

A world without racial justice can never be a just world. For a true shift in power, it is essential to embrace diversity and inclusion. Diversity is part and parcel of our efforts to build peaceful, equitable and resilient societies. 

Within Cordaid’s organisational setup, racial justice, diversity, and inclusion are high on the agenda. Equity in relationships, job opportunities that promote diversity, combating implicit and explicit discrimination and racism, and awareness raising are critical. Explicit policies are developed to ensure that our organisational setup and our working relations mirror the values of our vision and mission. Our narratives and our language reflect our conviction. Discussions around shifting the power that produce inclusive, non-racist language further stimulate these efforts. 

Gender and health 

In conflict-prone and fragile contexts, women and girls are more vulnerable to (sexual) gender-based violence and more likely to face obstacles to accessing health care. At the same time, men and boys rarely report (sexual) and gender-based violence due to stigma. Access to health care is a fundamental human right, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, disability or financial status. That’s why Cordaid works towards strengthened, transformed and inclusive health systems that benefit underserved people in fragile and conflict-affected settings. Our approach is holistic, meaning that we are responsive to individual and societal needs in their full diversity, particularly safeguarding access to essential services for those most at risk: women, girls and non-binary people. 

Our health care focus areas are: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Mental Health & Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) and communicable diseases (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria). In each of these areas we adopt a gender sensitive approach, also when combined with other approaches to health system strengthening (e.g. results-based financing, or RBF).  

Gender and climate

The climate crisis isn’t ‘gender neutral’. In fact, in many regions of the world, women bear the brunt of the crisis. This is because, not only do women take primary responsibility for securing food, water and fuel in many countries, but also because climate change is a threat multiplier. This means that climate change compounds or even escalates existing social, political and economic tensions, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected settings. 

According to UN Women, women are14 times more likely to dieduring a disaster than men, and up to 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. It is crucial that the policies and processes developed to address climate change involve women, who overwhelmingly have less access to resources and decision-making processes which could help them adapt to the effects of climate change. 

We advocate for 6 key climate justice messages, one of which calls for a focus on gender equality in all climate polices, strategies and actions. Viewing all climate action through an intersectional gender lens reveals the transformative role of women, girls and marginalised communities and creates space for the development of innovative climate solutions.  

Gender and peace

All too often, women are denied the opportunity for full, equal and meaningful participation in peace processes. Combining SDG16 and SDG5 is a necessity because peace is simply not sustainable if 50% of the population are excluded. When women are included, a wider dialogue is enabled, there is greater efficiency in implementing peace agreements, and peace is longer-lasting

We work on inclusive peace processes through various programmes by promoting the role and leadership of women and youth in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and enhancing local security.  

Funding women’s participation is peace processes 

The ‘gender peace gap’ is strongly linked to a funding gap. That’s why, together with several other organisations, Cordaid launched the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) in 2019. The fund empowers local women to be a force for crisis response and lasting peace, especially through the Rapid Response Window funding mechanism, a quick intervention enabling women to participate in peace processes. 

Lobby & Advocacy 

Access to health care is a human right and a strong health system is the cornerstone of a flourishing society. That is why countries like the Netherlands are committed to advancing Universal Health Coverage. Without addressing gender inequalities, however, that dream cannot be achieved. 

Evidence shows that gender inequalities deepen in times of crisis, like pandemics. To be better prepared for pandemics, governments should strive to ensure health systems take care of people of all genders. We call upon policymakers in the Netherlands and worldwide to take bold steps and concretely respond to gender inequalities in global health policymaking.  

In this video, we explain why we need to talk about gender in global health policymaking:

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Our key partners  

Cordaid collaborates with a number of national and international organisations to strive for a gender just world, particularly in the form of strategic alliances to network and lobby at national, regional and global levels for regulations and rules to be implemented for greater gender equity. Partnerships strengthen our gender transformative approach. We collaborate to this end with: 

  • WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform: a platform of around 50 organisations which works towards a just world in which gender equality and the rights of women and girls and gender non-conforming persons are respected in the Netherlands and beyond.  
  • UN Women: the United Nations entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment. 
  • Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund (WPHF):  an innovative partnership empowering local women to be a force for crisis response and lasting peace. 
  • NL Women’s Rights: The Women’s Rights & Gender Equality Taskforce within the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Simavi: the organisation’s mission is to fight for equality and overcome barriers for women and girls to claim their human rights to water and sanitation.
  • Melania Foundation: an organisation of volunteers dedicated to helping enterprising women in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • Afghan Women’s Network: a non-partisan and non-profit network representing and defending the rights of women and providing capacity-building opportunities.



  • Triple nexus

    We aim to link relief to rehabilitation, development and peace
  • Climate justice

    We actively pursue sustainability principles across all our activities
  • Diversity and inclusion

    We need diversity to build peaceful, equitable and resilient societies