Gender responsive content of the policies
Although numbers are important, it is pertinent to also consider how gender relates to the content of policy measures, to gain a better understanding of how women and men would benefit from them. A gender responsive policy ensures that the needs of all citizens, women and men, are equally addressed.
Traditionally, government policy and legislation have been viewed as gender-neutral instruments, on the assumption that a public policy benefits all members of the public equally.
However, structural gender inequalities are still embedded in our society. Even if the laws treat women and men as equals, women still do not have equal access to and control over resources and assets.
Policies focused on the general public often impact women and men differently. If these different gender impacts are not taken into account, the policy will be gender-blind. To avoid this, it is necessary to take into account the different needs and interests of women and men, to identify gender inequalities in access to and control of resources, to consider the impact of gender based stereotypes and traditional gender roles, to anticipate different effects on women and men, and to ensure gender equality.
A gender impact assessment is the first step towards avoiding policies that fail to take into account a gender perspective. Such an assessment analyses the impact of a new regulation, policy or programme on the advancement of gender equality and in turn foresees implications it might have on women’s and men’s lives.
Enabling conditions for gender mainstreaming
An effective implementation of gender mainstreaming requires preparation and organisation. People in decision-making positions can make a particular difference here, as they have more power to introduce changes.
- Preparation: set up a plan for the implementation of gender mainstreaming, define steps and milestones, assign tasks and responsibilities, formalise and communicate the plan.
- Resources: sufficient resources need to be made available; effective gender mainstreaming requires budget and time. Think about resources for awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives. The use of special (external) expertise might also be considered.
- Stakeholder involvement: close liaison with all policy stakeholders is essential throughout the policy cycle to take on board the concerns, expectations, and views of the target groups. It is recommended to cement opportunities and structures for stakeholder involvement and consultations into the policy process.
- Monitoring and evaluation: set in place accountability mechanisms to ensure an adequate follow-up of implementation and progress. Foresee regular reporting and share results.
- Knowledge generation: building up knowledge on gender equality and good practices in gender mainstreaming contributes to making the approach more effective. You can contribute to the institutional learning by collecting data and information on indicators, reporting on progress and facilitating experience exchange.
- Gender expertise: this expertise should be internal, but the use of special external expertise might be considered as well.
Gender Mainstreaming Cycle
Integrating the gender perspective in a policy means that equality between women and men, as the overarching principle, should be taken into consideration in all decisions, in each phase of the policy-making process, by all the actors involved.
The policy process is understood as a multi-stage cycle, including defining, planning, implementing and checking (monitoring and evaluating). description In many cases, these stages are turned into a cycle, with each step being repeated as changes occur. For example, when a policy is evaluated, it may reveal new problems that need to be addressed for re-programming.
The gender mainstreaming cycle presented here can be adjusted to different public policy/programming processes. The chart below refers to the specific stages of the cycle and the necessary elements that need to be given attention within each stage. Specific gender mainstreaming methods and tools that should be used within each of the cycle stages are also included. Some methods and tools, such as consulting with stakeholders or providing gender equality training to the actors involved, can be useful in more than one stage. Moreover, it is important to remember that when dealing with data they should be sex-disaggregated. EIGE’s Gender Statistics Database is a useful tool that can be used to find reliable, comparable and up-to-date information on equality between women and men.