In her article „Mainstreaming gender in the EU in times of crisis: scholarly developments and policy challenges” published in Perspectives on Europe, Council for European Studies at Columbia University, Spring 2013, Emanuela Lombardo argues that although the European Union has officially committed to mainstream gender into all its policies since the 1990s, the implementation of gender mainstreaming has been “problematic or ineffective”.
She affirms that “EU constitution-making processes, while furthering the protection of gender equality, have failed to effectively apply principles of gender mainstreaming endorsed in existing EU legislation to their own policy-making experiences”. In particular the macroeconomic policy of the Union makes the gap between the gender mainstreaming principle and its implementation evident. In its response to the financial and economic crisis in Europe, the European Union has adopted policy measures which subordinate gender equality to “more pressing” economic priorities. The work of Bettio et al. shows, according to Lombardo, that the adopted EU policies of fiscal consolidation even work against gender equality. It results that in none of the crisis measures in the EU-27 National Reform Programs in 2011 gender has been mainstreamed either in policy design or implementation.
Despite these problems, Lombardo sees “room for gender change”, which she detects in particular in the soft policy instruments, like questioning of gender norms in social learning or at gender trainings of European Commission personnel. For Lombardo “an effective mainstreaming of gender into all policies is key for saving from deregulation the EU social and gender model that has been constructed through years of European integration”. This requires, as Sylvia Walby argued at the Third European Conference on Politics and Gender of the ECPR, an “alternative, feminist vision of EU finance and economic policy”.
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