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International Women’s Day: IDRC highlights evidence-based solutions to gender inequality

IDRC is marking International Women’s Day on March 8 by highlighting the many ways that we and our research partners are advancing gender equality and helping to build stronger, healthier, more equitable and more prosperous families, communities and countries.
Two women smile and sit at a table, looking at papers.
IDRC / Shiho Fukada

Advancing gender equality is a central focus of IDRC’s programming, through the research and researchers we support. IDRC’s Strategy 2030 recognizes that persistent inequalities pose barriers to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reaffirms IDRC’s commitment to Goal 5: to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

Important progress has been made over the past decade. More girls are going to school, fewer girls are being forced into early marriage and women’s voices are more prevalent in shaping government policies worldwide. We celebrate this progress but also draw attention to the fact that the world is not on pace to meet its commitment under the SDGs to gender equality, and progress in many areas has been stalled or reversed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Only half of the world’s countries have achieved parity in primary education, according to UNICEF, and 40 per cent of girls are married before age 18 in low- and middle-income countries, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition, our partners are tracking a disturbing trend of women leaders facing online harassment.  

Much more work remains to be done, and research can help. 

IDRC is a committed partner. IDRC-supported research seeks gender-transformative change, meaning deep social change that can only be achieved by addressing the root causes of gender inequality and that stretches from the individual to the societal level.  

Evidence-based solutions are fundamental to overcoming the long-standing, systemic and deeply entrenched barriers that impede half the world’s population. Our collaborative work with partners across the Global South addresses the intersectionality of gender inequality and other types of inequality, including those connected to social class, sexual identity and religion.  

IDRC-supported research is playing a critical role in improving the lives of women and girls worldwide, including through improved food security, education, health, economic opportunities and digital innovation. The importance of closing the digital gender gap to achieve gender equality is reflected in the United Nations’ 2023 theme for International Women’s Day, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. IDRC has a long history of investing in digital inclusion in the Global South, including through research focused on protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces, the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities and the role of artificial intelligence in a sustainable and inclusive world. 

IDRC has demonstrated its commitment to gender equality by renewing its funding of the Centre of Excellence for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems (CRVS systems) through the end of 2025. Now housed at the UNFPA, this Centre of Excellence continues to advocate for strong CRVS systems as an important step toward global gender equality.

In the last five years, IDRC has invested over CAD82 million in gender-transformative research that addresses gender inequality and the underlying power dynamics that perpetuate inequalities. This includes support to 122 projects in more than 60 countries. In the 2021-2022 financial year alone, IDRC invested in 38 gender-transformative projects with funding support totalling more than CAD39 million. 

Learn more about IDRC’s support for gender-transformative research by reading IDRC’s latest Annual Report, which focuses on IDRC’s efforts to advance gender equality through research.