This article examines the relationship between gender inequality and food security with a particular focus on the role of international research and funding institutions, using the examples of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Both organisations are leading as research institutes and funding bodies in agricultural development and place strong emphasis on gender issues and women’s empowerment in their work. This paper analyses the ways in which these organisations integrate gender dimensions into their research and funding strategies, with the overall objective being to discuss the gender-responsive approaches which are most successful for achieving women’s empowerment in agricultural development. It argues that both organisations take gender issues seriously but need to address some shortcomings which hinder women’s empowerment. Some limitations of IFPRI and BMGF’s gender-responsive work are highlighted, such as a lack of recognition of long-term consequences resulting from the provision of agricultural assets, and a lack of prior analysis of social perceptions of gender roles in the project contexts. This paper gives recommendations for more effective gender-responsive approaches for these and similar organisations working on improving global food security.