What is gender mainstreaming?
For over ten years gender mainstreaming has been a central element in the European Union’s equality policies and a binding principle in policy and administration. The EU member states have committed themselves to equality between women and men as a cross sectional political aim. Unequal and unjust gender relations are found throughout society, meaning awareness of gender perspectives must be embedded in all planning and decision-making processes. This leads to the term mainstreaming.
Who is gender mainstreaming directed towards?
Gender mainstreaming is directed towards anyone who plays a role in policy development. In accordance with gender equity as a guiding principle, an analysis of women’s and men’s different interests must form an integral part of policy. It should always be ensured that political and structural decisions promote equality between the sexes.
Gender mainstreaming should then be of particular importance to politicians (whether professional or voluntary) as well as to other individuals involved in political processes. The spectrum should not be limited to executives who apply the principles of gender mainstreaming to their work, but should also include the people further down the hierarchy.
Gender mainstreaming is an innovative political approach. If gender mainstreaming is to be realised in organisations and institutions, executives must clearly identify with its goals and strategies and take on responsibility for its implementation. In this top-down process a specific concept for each organisation must be established.
What are the goals of gender mainstreaming?
Gender mainstreaming is about creating greater gender equity and equal chances for women and men. The EU expects its member states to consider gender perspectives in the planning, execution and evaluation of all political strategies. Implementing gender mainstreaming means making all of society’s facets gender sensitive.
Consequently, it is not so much about introducing a form of equal treatment for women and men which places little importance on individual circumstances. Instead, gender mainstreaming aims for equal opportunities. Such an approach recognises that women and men are not simply two homogeneous groups, but that they are individuals with diverse needs and circumstances.
A new consciousness must be established at all levels which treats the concept of equality as a fundamental political goal. Gender as a category leads to more than a question of gender equity. Instead, it is a crucial factor which can be used to solve economic, social and political problems.