Gender and the reduction of inequalities
between men and women

© Nils Devernois

  • Gender equality is now recognized by the international community as being a powerful engine for sustainable development, growth and poverty reduction. Yet to date, no country in the world, however developed it may be, has an organization of society that allows men and women to participate in civic, economic, social, cultural and political life on an equal footing.

    AFD adopted its own gender strategy in March 2014: The Crosscutting Intervention Framework (CIF - in french -) on Gender and the Reduction of Inequalities Between Men and Women. The aim is to contribute to sustainable, inclusive and equitable development between men and women.

Mayan citizen participation promotes women’s rights


In Guatemala’s Western Highlands, Mayan women’s rights are being improved thanks to a project set up by Terre des Hommes France and the Tzuk Kim Pop Movement. A project supported by AFD, which is based on getting people more involved in the public sphere.

“One day, I will be the mayor of my village.” The ambition of Rosa Dominga Chaj Yac, a member of the Women’s Committee of the municipality of Cantel, in Guatemala’s Western Highlands region, is a sign that the role of women is changing in Mayan communities, in which Terre des Hommes France and the Tzuk Kim Pop Movement are taking action.
The two partner NGOs are fighting to advance women’s rights in communities which are marked by poverty, male chauvinism and discrimination against women. More generally, it is a pilot project for good governance and citizen participation which they conducted in four municipalities from June 2013 to May 2016.

  ©Terre des Hommes France

Developing citizen participation

The project used existing legislation in Guatemala to significantly develop citizen participation: today, communities in these municipalities, over 90% of which are Amerindian, participate in 11 municipal committees. They work alongside municipal councils with the aim of providing practical solutions to their needs in terms of education, health, economic development, the environment and women’s rights.
One of the project’s successes lies in the proportion of women in these participatory bodies: 36% of women among the members of the municipal bodies and 61% among civil society representatives!

Giving women a voice

This high level of women’s representation allows a number of concerns to be voiced with regard to health (Maternity House respecting Mayan traditions, training and action to defend the traditional know-how of midwives and healers, medicinal plant laboratory), education (school libraries, training for women to fight against violence) and the environment (sustainable forest management, conservation of water resources). The municipalities also support women’s activities, by breeding laying hens for example, in order to improve their incomes. The objective is to develop their economic independence so that they can exercise their rights and free themselves of the violence against them.

©Terre des Hommes France

Public policies to keep up the action

Beyond these projects, the aim of Tzuk Kim Pop and Terre des Hommes France is to promote the establishment of real public policies in order to keep up all these actions in the long term and maximize their impact. Two municipal public policies, developed with women, have already been adopted. They also include concrete actions, such as making and broadcasting promotional spots in the Quiché language to raise awareness of violence, education and reproductive health.

©Terre des Hommes France

Towards greater transparency

With “a clear citizen participation”, highlighted during the external evaluation of the project a year ago, this first phase is a success. Terre des Hommes France and the Tzuk Kim Pop Movement have consequently decided to continue to support these communities with a second phase. It started in August 2016 in three municipalities which have already been supported and in three new ones. Following on from the actions launched since 2013, this new phase will also comprise specific support for young people and women to help them have a voice and participate in decision-making bodies. Transparency will also be a focus, from the community level to the municipal level, along with the fight against corruption. AFD is continuing to support this project thanks to which a Mayan woman will, perhaps, one day become mayor of her village!

► Find out more about Terre des Hommes France


AFD gathered local actors engaged on the topic of women and employment, 15 and 16March, 2016


AFD have organized, in collaboration with the General Consulate of France in Istanbul, two-days of events to contribute to current reflections on women employment in Turkey and on ways to improve the access and retention of women to decent work. Both events are part of a long series of bilateral exchanges on the theme of gender as AFD and the Consulate General have maintained for two years with many Turkish institutions and associations actors and within the framework of Turkey's initiatives to strengthen women’s participation in economic life. These events were held on 15 and 16 March 2016 in Istanbul at the Palais de France and brought together over 150 participants from very various backgrounds (parliamentarians, ministries, public institutions, municipalities, NGOs, private sector).

On the occasion of the 1st Summit of Women 20 organized at the initiative of the Turkish presidency of G20, Turkey has reiterated the commitment to strengthen the women’s participation in economic life (the female participation rate in Turkey is less than 30%, the lowest in OECD’s countries).
In this national and international context, AFD organized two-days of round tables and seminar, on 15 and 16 March 2016, to contribute to current reflections on employment in Turkey and ways to improve access and retention in decent work.

Both events are part of a long series of bilateral exchanges on the theme of gender than AFD and the Consulate General have maintained for 2 years with many Turkish interlocutors and within the framework of Turkey's initiatives to strengthen the women’s participation in economic life.

The round tables, organized the 1st day, have allowed many participants to address the issue of the employment of women from different angles: women's qualifications, obstacles faced by women in the access to and retention in market labor, violence against women at workplace as in family environment, the opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in the child care services. Turkish experts had the opportunity to promote initiatives and projects in Turkey that contribute to improving access and retention of women to decent work and improving their working conditions.


The seminar, held on the 2nd day, has allowed Turkish and French experts to exchange experiences with examples of childcare facilities applied in Turkey and in France. This seminar was an opportunity to examine the various aspects of childcare services in Turkey and in particular the development of an affordable and quality supply that can both contribute to the economic objectives of the country promoting economic participation of women (45% of Turkish women who worked previously don’t return to the workforce after their first child). This seminar was followed by a day of field visits organized by AFD Istanbul for French experts in custody arrangements based in Istanbul and have allowed experts to understand the specifics of the Turkish context.

These both events attracted over 150 participants including many Turkish and French experts from various backgrounds (ministries, public and private institutions, municipalities, associations and foundations, companies and private entrepreneurs, law firms, universities, etc. ) and constituted an opportunity to contribute to the development of bilateral cooperation between France and Turkey on the issue of women employment.


Workshops on access to and retention in high-quality employment for women in Tunisia


Women’s employment is a key issue for a country like Tunisia.
What are the main projects to achieve this? Concrete solutions are put forward in a study that AFD’s Research Department has commissioned from the Development Research Institute (IRD).

Women’s employment is a factor for empowerment

This comparative study between Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey shows that women’s employment does not automatically mean their empowerment. It appears that a large proportion of women’s work is “invisible” in that it is informal, not very highly valued and has little or no remuneration. The study shows that women’s work is only a factor for empowerment if it is recognized by society, whether this be in the form of visible reproductive work or a high-quality job.

The study indicates that support for access to and retention in high-quality employment for women requires:

  • Targeting operations and supporting the production of gender-specific data
  • Alleviating domestic chores for women via child care programs
  • Promoting diversity in vocational guidance and training
  • Supporting women entrepreneurship and the upscaling to a medium-sized enterprise
  • Promoting access to transport in rural areas and the enrolment of girls in school
  • Supporting the formalization of work and access to social protection.



A workshop organized at the Tunis agency on 19 January also provided the opportunity to look more closely at the recommendations of the study with other AFD partners (Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment, IFT, GIZ, IRD, IRMC, CRES, Mercy Corps…).

Through these events, AFD hopes that the recommendations of this study will be promoted by its various partners in order to increase advocacy in this field.

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