Gender Mainstreaming in Public Policies: Origin, Training, Implementation

Gender mainstreaming is not a new concept, since it has been with us for almost four decades. However, its relevance has become more important recently, when more measures are being promoted to promote effective equality between women and men in all areas of society.

In this article we will explain what mainstreaming or gender mainstreaming is and how it is applied in public policies.

What is gender mainstreaming?

The meaning of gender mainstreaming can be translated as “gender mainstreaming” and its main idea is that gender forms an integrated part of the decision-making and management processes of public policies (that it be the “main stream”). In other words, equal treatment and opportunities must be an integrated objective of public policies, promoted both from decision-making and from management.

Therefore, gender mainstreaming or gender mainstreaming is the set of actions carried out to promote and achieve effective equality between women and men in the processes of planning, execution and evaluation of public policies, so that recognize that gender inequalities exist and assuming this problem as a public problem, which all public administrations must address.

Thus, public policies must be as effective for men as for women, for which it is necessary to analyze the effect that said policies have on one and the other, introducing, if necessary, positive actions that guarantee reaching the objective of effective equality. , that is, actions aimed at ensuring that the unequal group has the same rights, obligations and opportunities.

To give a definition of gender mainstreaming , we can refer to the definition of this concept given by the Group of Experts of the Council of Europe (1998): «the organization, improvement, development and evaluation of political processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated into all policies, at all levels and at all stages, by the agents normally involved in the adoption of political measures”.

Therefore, gender mainstreaming means incorporating the gender perspective into all public policies, to ensure that they tend to achieve effective equality between women and men.

In this sense, it is not a question of legislating only for women or only creating positive actions in equality , but rather of considering the impact of the regulations, measures, policies, actions, etc., carried out by public administrations, from decision-making until its management, on each gender, to ensure that these will not generate new inequalities or perpetuate existing ones.

We have an example of gender mainstreaming in the preparation of a gender impact report when developing a public project.

Origin of gender mainstreaming

As we said in the introduction to this article, the concept of gender mainstreaming is not something new. It emerged for the first time at the III World Conference on Women of the UN in Nairobi, in 1985, and would appear again at the IV World Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995. This way of making and managing public policies is assumed by the EU in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1999), where it formalizes its commitment to gender mainstreaming in its articles 2 and 3, which establish equality between women and men as a specific task of the community, as well as a horizontal objective that affects all community work.

It also appears in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Nice, 2001).

The European Social Agenda of Lisbon (2001) includes gender mainstreaming as the tool to achieve the goal of equality between women and men in employment.

It is from this point on that the legislation takes the concept to its regulatory framework, its greatest expression being the Equality Law 3/2007, whose article 15 states that: «The principle of equal treatment and opportunities between women and men it will report, on a cross-cutting basis, the action of all public powers” and that “Public administrations will integrate it, actively, in the adoption and execution of their regulatory provisions, in the definition and budgeting of public policies in all areas and in the development of all its activities.

What elements are essential for the implementation of gender mainstreaming?

The implementation of gender mainstreaming in public policies is based on five fundamental elements:

Placing equality at the center of policies

Equality between women and men must be placed on the agenda of any public entity that promotes this process, something that, as we have already seen, is included in the Equality Law itself.

Recognizing inequality as a public reality will lead to reviewing the objectives and priority of the policy. But it is not only about this recognition, but also that the highest levels in decision-making and participation are involved and commit to it in a visible way.

In short, it is about applying the gender perspective to all public policies.

Commitment to implementing gender mainstreaming

When the public entity is committed to the implementation of gender mainstreaming, it is necessary that each agent involved in the development of public policies is equally committed to this strategy and to the objective of achieving effective equality between women and men.

This commitment must translate into the assumption of new responsibilities and work approaches in their usual tasks, in order to put an end to those factors and situations that maintain gender inequality in their areas of action.

Training on equality between women and men

Training in gender equality for those who make decisions and those who manage public policies is also essential to be able to carry out successful development.

Equality training will help develop skills and knowledge on gender analysis, gender relations and equality policies between women and men. This training is not far from the training received by equality agents to be able to carry out their work in private companies that seek to improve equality.

The participation of all the agents involved

To implement gender mainstreaming it is necessary that all the agents involved in the development of public policies participate in it. For this, it is necessary to design a cooperative framework that serves to articulate the decision-making processes for change.

These agents must include either experts in gender equality or the competent equality body (such as, for example, the equality commission of a specific administration).

Implement a methodology to identify situations and factors of inequality

It is necessary to implement a methodology that allows the public entity to identify existing situations and factors of inequality in the different areas of action of public policies.

The aim is to carry out a prior assessment of gender impact in the entity and in its way of managing public policies, in order to later be able to design the necessary measures, procedures and tools that contribute to reducing inequality and achieving the goal of equality. effective between women and men.

This methodology must meet these requirements:

  • Disaggregate the data by sex and include those variables that make it possible to identify situations of inequality and measure the reduction of the gender gap in those areas of action of public policies. For example, if it is a matter of creating policies to reduce the salary gap , the duration of the working day should be included among the variables.
  • Analyze and investigate the causes that cause the situations of inequality that have been identified and act on them. For example, what causes are behind the horizontal segregation of certain sectors and what measures can be taken to correct it, or what factors are determining factors in the different types of gender violence .
  • Incorporate gender indicators in the information systems used to evaluate and monitor public action.
  • Eliminate gender stereotypes and prejudices in each and every one of the phases of public decision and action.

How to implement the Gender Mainstreaming Implementation Protocol?

To carry out the implementation of a Protocol for the Implementation of Gender Mainstreaming in any public administration, it is necessary to carry out a political and technical process of integrating gender equality as a criterion and focus of all the actions of the entity, to while taking into account the establishment of criteria, methods and processes such as:

  • The balanced presence of women and men in administrative structures and in participation and representation bodies.
  • Provide material, human and technical resources to carry out equality policies.
  • Coordination between administrations for gender equality.
  • Non-sexist use in administrative communication.
  • Diagnosis, planning, execution and evaluation of policies and plans with a gender perspective.
  • Apply the gender perspective to:
    • budget planning
    • The evaluation of public budgets
    • The development of regulations
  • Gender impact assessment in regulations and plans.
  • Awareness and training in equality and gender.
  • Development of research, diagnoses and studies on gender equality.

In a certain sense, implementing a gender mainstreaming protocol or strategy in public administrations or in public policies is not very different from carrying out an equality plan in a private company, since it is also necessary to have equality experts , a work team made up of different agents with training in equality and carrying out different phases: diagnosis (starting point), planning (design of objectives and formulation of measures) and evaluation (preparation of gender indicators and phases of evolution ).

In short, the ultimate goal of gender mainstreaming is to bring about a social change that allows effective equality between women and men to be achieved in all areas of society, through the incorporation of the gender perspective in all public policies.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

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