Germany: Adoption of a new Policy on Feminist Development


On Wednesday 1 March, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Svenja Schulze, announced the adoption of a feminist foreign development policy that was promised at the formation of the new government in 2021 as part of the coalition treaty. Moreover, according to Resolution 1325, all Nations are called upon to improve the representation of women and fight their discrimination.

Through this feminist development policy, the ministry intends to eliminate structural discrimination against women and girls simply because they are women. The BMZ intends to focus on the causes of structural and systemic inequalities by adopting a transformative and intersectional gender approach.

Three criteria will have to be respected – Rights, Resources and Representation – from the design of development programmes (by 2025, 93 percent of newly committed project funds are to flow into projects that advance gender equality – vs 64% in 2021), but also at the level of partnerships with civil society organisations, especially in the South, and at the institutional level with an initiation of a process of change and learning in the BMZ itself.

The BMZ started from the realisation that a feminist development policy was more necessary than ever to eradicate European (post-)colonial patterns of thinking that continue to prevail, and because the global political, humanitarian, health and climate crises endanger the realisation of human rights and gender equity and reinforce or cement existing inequalities in particular among marginalized and poverty-affected groups, among them women and young women.

The BMZ proposes to rethink power by putting women and girls, and marginalized groups, at the centre of decision-making processes, and is convinced that systemic change is needed to realise gender equality, freedom, human rights and empowerment, to achieve the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda and to address the global crises.

In order to achieve the overarching goal of overcoming discriminatory power structures, the BMZ sets itself the following sub-goals:

  • Realising the rights of women and marginalised groups, ensuring their access

to resources, and promoting their representation

  • Anchoring the feminist approach across the BMZ portfolio
  • Strengthening feminist development policy in international alliances
  • The further development of own structures and working methods in the sense of a feminist development policy

Monitoring of the impact of development policy measures is carried out within the framework of the new BMZ Gender Action Plan. The Gender Action Plan will be published in the second half of 2023.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, former Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and Friends of the Global Fund Europe’s Vice President for Germany, said: « The adoption of this new strategy fulfills all the motivations I had in my time as a Development Minister and is a step forward towards gender equality and the elimination of discrimination against women and marginalised groups. And these ambitious goals must be translated into actions that strengthen the central role of women in decision-making processes and the implementation of programmes and actions affecting them. We hope to change living conditions of women and marginalised groups because we want to overcome the discrimination that is still systematic and systemic. We will remain vigilant to ensure the proper implementation of this new strategy”.

The Global Fund’s role in addressing gender inequalities

The Global Fund observed that “gender inequality and discrimination put women’s and girls’ health and well-being at risk. They often face greater barriers than men and boys to access health information and services. These barriers include restrictions on mobility; lack of access to and control over resources; lack of decision-making power; lower literacy rates; and discriminatory attitudes of communities and healthcare providers. Gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, rape and sexual abuse and harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage, have serious negative consequences for women’s and girls’ physical and mental health and wellbeing”.

In its 2023-2028 strategy « Fighting Pandemics and Building a Healthier and More Equitable World » the objective of « Maximising health equity, gender equality and human rights » is divided into sub-objectives such as:

– Scale up comprehensive programs and approaches to remove human rights and gender-related barriers across portfolios including by strengthening country ownership, commitment and capacity to implement gender-responsive and gender transformative programs and strengthening partnerships for gender equality.

– Support comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) programs and their strengthened integration with HIV services for women in all their diversity and their partners

– Advance youth-responsive programming, including for adolescent girls and young women and young key and vulnerable populations and their partners

– Deploy quantitative and qualitative data to identify drivers of HIV, TB and malaria inequity and inform targeted responses, including by gender, age, geography, income and for key and vulnerable populations

– Leverage the Global Fund’s diplomatic voice to challenge laws, policies and practices that limit impact on HIV, TB and malaria

Download the BMZ Feminist Development Policy (in German)

Download the brief of the strategy by Friends Europe (in English)