The 2005 Paris Declaration (PD) and the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) translate a broad consensus among donors to increase aid effectiveness. The PD and AAA set out a sweeping reform agenda for donors and recipients around five key principles: ownership, alignment, harmonisation, management for results and mutual accountability. In particular, donors are expected to replace their traditional stand-alone projects with more programme-oriented aid, including budget support.
While the rationale for a gender-sensitive PD may easily be built on grounds of equality, effectiveness and impact, the 2005 PD was largely gender-blind, with only a passing reference to gender in the paragraph on harmonisation. Until the ongoing 2011 PD Monitoring Survey, gender had not been included in the set of monitoring indicators, and it was largely absent from the PD Evaluation. By failing to consider the gender differentiation of poverty impacts, ambitious but gender-blind cross-national PD monitoring and evaluative exercises risk leaving important aspects of changing aid modalities unexposed.
On a positive note, the 2008 AAA pays slightly more attention to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and it opens opportunities for integrating a gender perspective into changing aid modalities. The OECD/DAC has endorsed the 2008 ‘DAC Guiding Principles for Aid Effectiveness, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’. It has also endorsed an optional Gender Equality Survey including three gender-performance indicators that have been added to the 2011 PD/AAA Monitoring Survey.
In principle, a shift towards ‘higher’ aid modalities need not have negative repercussions for gender equality and women’s empowerment. In fact, each of the five key PD principles opens opportunities, just as each entails some risks. Gender blindness is not neutral, however, here or elsewhere. It aggravates risks and under-exploits the opportunities that more effective aid modalities offer for equality between men and women.
Download Policy Brief 3: The Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action Through a Gender Lens