For three decades, ambitious commitments have been made at the global level to promote gender equality and empower women. But the translation into action of the commitments pledged in the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals has been less impressive. Inequality between women and men and girls and boys remains pervasive, particularly in lowand middle-income countries. Some 60% of the world’s poor are women; two thirds of illiterate adults are women; and twice as many women as men suffer from malnutrition. Katie Dain reports on a new IDF programme to address gender-based inequalities in the health-systems response to diabetes worldwide, and promote the role of women and girls in diabetes prevention.