This was the question asked at a recent high profile event where SIPU's evaluation of Norway’s support to women’s rights and gender equality in development cooperation was presented and discussed.
The launch event was held on the 13th of May at Norad in Oslo
and attended by an audience of about 100 distinguished Norwegian
policy-makers, academics, practitioners and evaluators. The
evaluation, conducted by SIPU, in collaboration with the Overseas Development
Institute in the UK and Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, was
presented by Nicola Jones from ODI and Inge
Tvedten from CMI. A panel discussion followed, which included
Deputy Minister Hans Brattskar from the Norwegian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Kristin Clemet from the liberal think-tank Civita
and Marte Gerhardsen from the social democrat think-tank
The evaluation assesses Norway's support to strengthening women
and girls' rights and gender equality through its development
cooperation; the extent to which results have been achieved and
whether they are in line with the Action plan for Women's Rights
and Gender Equality. The evaluation included a desk study of on the
global dimensions of Norwegian development cooperation's support to
women's rights and gender equality as well as three in-depth
country case studies including Ethiopia, Mozambique and Nepal. In
addition, a desk study of Norway's gender aid to Zambia was
The evaluation finds that Norway's support is a mixed bag of
strengths and weaknesses. Where Norway shines is for instance in
its focus on long-terms support, which is vital for changing deeply
entrenching social norms that reinforces inequalities, its strong
linkages with civil society and its willingness to think 'outside
the box'. However, Norway appears to be underperforming in terms of
a lack a clear logic and evidence base around how to support women
and girls' rights and what really works, and a lack of a proactive
role in donor/government groups at country level.
The presentation led to a lively panel discussion. All three
panelists discussed the need for Norway to work in a much more
focused way to ensure that its support is spread less thinly.
However, the panelists disagreed on what this should mean for
Norway's support for women's rights and gender equality.
From an official standpoint, Deputy Minister Brattskar said the
aim of the government will be for Norway to focus support in
fewer countries, but that gender should be a central part of
Norway's development cooperation, particularly in the area of
girl's education. The key point about moving to work in a less
fragmented way and more focused and strategically, however, is that
everyone wants to concentrate, but no one wants to be concentrated,
Marte Gerhardsen agreed that gender must be one of the key areas
for Norway to work in. She spoke of the need for Norway to work
more on advocacy in the area of women's rights and gender equality,
particularly at a time when women's rights are threatened from many
corners, including in the United Nations by some countries.
Kristin Clemet had a different perspective and suggested that
Norway cannot work in all areas, and should be careful not to be
too paternalistic in its support for gender, for instance, in terms
of LGBT rights. She suggested Norway should instead focus on
demand-driven aid in areas such as infrastructure, health and
The event featured in Bistands Aktuelt here (in Norwegian).
To read the report and the policy brief, please visit the Norad
website here. You can read more about SIPU's
evaluation services here.
Photos: Johanna Lindström (from event), Inge Tvedten (map from
focus group discussion in Mozambique), Angelica Arbulu (women's
group demonstration in Nepal).