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Brussels, 8 March 2011

EU funded projects to promote gender equality- the EU has results

Key achievements:

  • Over the past five years, the Commission has supported the enrolment of around 85,000 female students in secondary education, in 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Almost 4000 female students benefited from Erasmus Mundus and other student mobility schemes

  • Since 2004, Commission support resulted in more than 10 million reproductive health consultations and more than 4 million births attended by health personnel.


Project examples

Women Empowerment in Zanzibar (2008-2011)

In Zanzibar, women often don't have any access to education, income or land. The EU-funded Women Empowerment in Zanzibar (WEZA) project works to address this disparity through initiatives like providing training on basic economics and how to start up money-making activities such as soap making or handcraft, in order to increase women's incomeand progressively address the social, cultural and political barriers to their empowerment.

So far 6,000 women in rural Zanzibar have benefited from the scheme. Thanks to the project more than 1300 women have been enrolled in adult literacy classes and are now capable of writing, reading and counting. More than 170 children have been withdrawn from child labour and put into school.

WEZA has also stimulated the county-wide debate about gender-based violence and, thanks to the project, women in Zanzibar have taken collective measures against these acts, at every level.

The EU contribution to the project is €75 000.

Standing up for women’s rights in Mexico

The Mexican state of Tlaxcala faces serious problems of trafficking and sexual exploitation of women; until 2008 human trafficking was not even a criminal offence. The European Commission funded a local organisation to help defend women’s rights.

The organisation’s director explains: "Our campaign, through collaboration with NGOs and community groups, raised public awareness about human trafficking and generated public pressure. Their mobilisation of civil society – gathering 25,700 signatures and holding two marches – led to the criminalisation of trafficking in Tlaxcala".

Urgent care for mothers in Afghanistan

Poverty, a lack of infrastructure and a shortage of midwives make the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan one of the highest in the world. More than 1,6% of women die during pregnancy or childbirth.

In 2005-2007, the European Commission contributed €7.7 million to the government’s Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) in the Nangarhar province. With a strong focus on women and children’s health, the BPHS reaches 1.2 million people. This support helped to pilot a midwife training programme and to set up 324 health posts. The number of women receiving prenatal care increased from 5% in 2003 to 30% in 2006.

Helping children at risk in Egypt

In Egypt, the Children at Risk programme aims to improve the lives of children identi­fied as particularly vulnerable or marginal­ised by society such as street children, and children who are working or disabled. Girls without access to education and who are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) also benefited from the programme.

With a budget of €19.9 million, the programme was successful in raising awareness of FGM and disability, and it has increased the capacity of participating NGOs to deliver services to children in need. It also led to improved dialogue between government ministries and the non-governmental sec­tor involved in child protection issues.

The Children at Risk programme also con­tributed to improvements to the Child Law and a national campaign to combat the practice of female genital mutilation. 191 schools were completed and equipped to provide education to around 30 000 girls. 14 NGOs and 70 community devel­opment associations now offer advice and support to vulnerable children. In addition four reception centres have been created to provide services to street children, who now have health insurance cards. Working children have also been withdrawn from hazardous occupations and have received vocational training.

(From Annual Report 2010)

Bangladesh — All girls to school: a key priority for the EU

Thanks to the long-term support of the Commission and other donors, Bangladesh has made spectacular progress in allevi­ating gender disparities in primary and secondary education. MDG 2 to provide universal primary education has been reached. In 2003, the Commission con­tributed €105 million to the $1.8 billion sub-sector-wide second primary educa­tion development programme (PEDP II).

As a result, by the end of 2008: 20 000 new teachers were recruited; 40 000 new classrooms are under construction; 50 million textbooks are printed and distributed every year. School manage­ment committees made up ofparents and teachers have been formed and local com­munities are mobilised to send girls to school. In addition, the Commission is a major contributor to non-formal primary education with NGOs, which also signifi­cantly helps to increase the number of girls going to school, in particular in poor and marginalised communities.

(From Annual Report 2010. Also see video)

Making aid work for both women and men

The European Commission/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace has produced significant findings on aid effectiveness and gender equality in 12 pilot countries. This has been achieved through a mapping exercise in each country and by developing the professional capacity at both national and regional levels that is needed to bring a stronger gender equality perspective to the aid effectiveness agenda.

The pioneering online course on ‘Gender Equality and Aid Effectiveness’ has gener­ated unprecedented demand from govern­ment, donor, multilateral and civil society organisations. For more information: .

The European Commission/UNIFEM pro­gramme on integrating gender-respon­sive budgeting into the aid effectiveness agenda, has also proved to be a valuable resource for generating both knowledge and awareness in this area.

A report pre­senting composite findings of research focusing on 10 countries is now available. It should be read in conjunction with the 10 more detailed country reports: Ethiopia, India, Mozambique, Peru, Uganda, Nepal, Morocco, Rwanda, Cameroon and Tanzania (

(From Annual Report 2010)

Fighting gender violence in Central America - Building strategies and actions against gender violence (2009-2011)

Gender-based violence against women is a common problem in Central America. To build strategies and actions against gender-based violence and women and female homicides at local, national and regional level the EU is financing the Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace with €966 825 (2009-2011).

Thanks to the project around 100 women belonging to 16 organizations have been trained to detect and denounce violence, and to communicate with local governments and public bodies.

Two gender units have been established within the local government of two Salvadoran municipalities and 56 user-friendly self-help groups have been set up to facilitate attention to victims. New legislation for comprehensive care of violence against women has been proposed and is under discussion in the Salvadoran Parliament.

More info

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