Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Legal and policy framework for gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting

Gender equality is a fundamental value of the European Union and is critical to the achievement of the goals set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Mainstreaming the principle of equality between women and men in all of its activities represents an overall aim for the EU. This is set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), whereby “The Union shall aim to promote equality between men and women in all its activities” (Article 8). Gender equality is similarly enshrined in Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. These provisions form the basis for the EU and Member States’ roles in the development and implementation of gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting, and are further reinforced in the 2017 European Pillar of Social Rights.
The European Commission’s Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019 sets out a framework for gender mainstreaming in the Commission and for the implementation of coherent gender equality policies in the Member States in five areas:
(1) Equal economic independence of women and men;
(2) Equal pay for work of equal value;
(3) Equality in decision-making;
(4) Ending gender-based violence;
(5) Promoting gender equality beyond the EU.18
Specifically, the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality adopts a dual approach, with key actions in the five areas and integrating a gender perspective:
“[into] every aspect of EU intervention (preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, legal measures and spending programmes), i.e. gender mainstreaming. This means assessing the impact of EU action on both women and men and taking responsibility for any readjustment necessary, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated” (p. 20).19
The Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality also states that the European Semester will be used to review the advances made towards some of its key objectives and priorities. Finally, in line with Treaty obligations, it specifies that a gender equality perspective will be taken into account in preparing the post-2020 generation of EU funding programmes.
Under the European Pact for Gender Equality 2011-2020,20 the European Council reiterates that equality between women and men is a fundamental value of the EU and an important driver for economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. It reaffirms the EU’s commitment to closing gender gaps in employment, education and social protection, promoting better work-life balance for women and men, and combating all forms of violence against women. The Council also reaffirms its commitment to governance through gender mainstreaming by integrating the gender perspective into all policy areas. In relation to macroeconomic policy the Council encourages Member States to apply a gender equality perspective and promote gender equality policies in their National Reform Programmes (NRPs), especially under the employment guidelines. The Pact encourages Member States to make appropriate use of agreed gender equality indicators developed under the Joint Assessment Framework and the follow-up of the Beijing Platform for Action (BfPA). The Commission and the Council are invited to incorporate a gender equality perspective into the Annual Growth Survey (AGS), the Country Opinions and the Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs).21 Finally, the progress made in the Pact is discussed annually by ministers at European Council level.

18 European Commission (2016). Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
19 Ibid. p. 20.
20 European Council (2011). Council conclusions of 7 March 2011 on European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020). (2011/C 155/02).
21 Ibid.

22 The full text and ongoing process of implementation can be found at: In 1995, the Madrid European Council acknowledged the EU’s commitment to the BPfA and requested an annual review of the BPfA’s areas of concern in all Member States, with a full review to be conducted every five years. In addition, EIGE carries out studies on each of the 12 critical Areas of Concern of the Platform, which are available at:
23 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/71/313), p.10.

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