This article explores how gender issues have been dealt with in the context of the aid reform processes laid down in the 2005 Paris Declaration (PD). In doing this, the study draws upon evidence from the Netherlands and Tanzania, two PD champions. The article points to yet unused opportunities to promote gender mainstreaming in policies and systems as well as pressing challenges with regard to projects that are specifically targeted at gender equality and women's empowerment. It argues that the disappointing state of affairs may partly be attributed to the narrowly technocratic way in which the PD has thus far been understood and implemented. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.