– having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),
– having regard to Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
– having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),
– having regard to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
– having regard to the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),
– having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995, to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing+5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005) and Beijing +15 (2010) special sessions and on the outcome document of the Beijing +20 review conference,
– having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on Gender in Development,
– having regard to the joint staff working document of 21 September 2015 entitled ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020’ (SWD(2015)0182), and the Council conclusions of 26 October 2015 on the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020,
– having regard to Article 3 of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which defines ‘gender’ as ‘the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men’,
– having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the European Council in March 2011,
– having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2010 entitled ‘A Strengthened Commitment to Equality between Women and Men: A Women’s Charter’ (COM(2010)0078),
– having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),
– having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278),
– having regard to the Commission’s research report entitled ‘Evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’,
– having regard to the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017,
– having regard to European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) study on ‘Advancing women in political decision-making – Way forward’, published in 2015,
– having regard to the conclusions and recommendations of EIGE’s report on ‘Gender-Sensitive Parliaments: A Global Review of Good Practice’, published in 2011,
– having regard to its resolutions of 10 February 2010 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009(1), of 8 March 2011 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2010(2) and of 13 March 2012 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011(3), and of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(4),
– having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2003 on gender mainstreaming in the European Parliament(5),
– having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2007 on gender mainstreaming in the work of the committees(6),
– having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2009 on gender mainstreaming in the work of its committees and delegations(7),
– having regard to its resolution of 7 May 2009 on gender mainstreaming in EU external relations and peace-building/nation-building(8),
– having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on women in political decision-making – quality and equality(9),
– having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015(10),
– having regard to the Commission communication of 21 February 1996 entitled ‘Incorporating equal opportunities for women and men into all Community policies and activities’ (COM(1996)0067) committing itself to ‘[promoting] equality between women and men in all [its] activities and policies at all levels’, effectively specifying the gender mainstreaming principle,
– having regard to the study entitled ‘Evaluation of the Strategy for Equality between women and men 2010-2015 as a contribution to achieve the goals of the Beijing Platform for Action’, published in 2014 by European Parliament Policy Department C,
– having regard to the study entitled ‘Gender Mainstreaming in Committees and Delegations of the European Parliament’, published in 2014 by European Parliament Policy Department C,
– having regard to the study entitled ‘The EU Budget for Gender Equality”, published in 2015 by European Parliament Policy Department D,
– having regard to the note entitled ‘Guidance on the development of gender equality and the empowerment of women policies’, published by UN Women in May 2014,
– having regard to the paper entitled ‘Advances in EU Gender Equality: Missing the mark?’ published in 2014 by the European Policy Institutes Network,
– having regard to the Human Resources Annual Report 2014 published by the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Personnel,
– having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0034/2016),
A. whereas Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE) lays down gender mainstreaming as a horizontal principle and Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TUE) lays down the principle of gender equality as a value of the Union;
B. whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights contains specific provisions on the horizontal principle of gender equality, and Article 6 TEU recognises that the Charter has the same legal values as the Treaties;
C. whereas achieving gender equality is central to the protection of human rights, the functioning of democracy, respect for the rule of law, and economic growth, social inclusion and sustainability;
D. whereas progress in achieving gender equality in the EU is stagnating and at this pace will not be achieved for some time yet;
E. whereas, in the Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019, the Commission undertook to continue gender mainstreaming actions, including through evaluation and monitoring exercises; whereas the Commission has downgraded its strategic engagement for gender equality post 2015 to a staff working document;
F. whereas the fifth objective of the Sustainable Development Goals is the achievement of gender equality by 2030;
G. whereas gender mainstreaming means ‘the integration of a gender perspective into every aspect of EU policy – preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, legal measures and spending programmes – with a view to achieving equality between women and men’(11);
H. whereas gender mainstreaming must include the rights, perspectives and well-being of LGBTIQ people and people of all gender identities;
I. whereas gender mainstreaming should be a proactive and reactive tool to achieve gender equality;
J. whereas gender mainstreaming is not a policy goal in itself, but a key means of achieving gender equality, always in combination with other specific actions and policies targeted at advancing gender equality;
K. whereas one of the competences of the committee responsible is to contribute to the implementation and further development of gender mainstreaming in all policy areas;
L. whereas the majority of parliamentary committees generally give importance to gender mainstreaming (e.g. in their legislative work, in their working relations with the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and when drawing up action plans on equality), while some committees exhibit little or no interest in this matter;
M. whereas, since the previous parliamentary term, the committee responsible has developed a practice of making focused contributions to the reports of other committees through ‘gender mainstreaming amendments’ (GMAs); whereas according to a study published in 2014(12), 85 % of the GMAs tabled between July 2011 and February 2013 have been incorporated in the final reports adopted by lead committees; whereas further data from February 2013 onwards is necessary for an updated assessment to be made of the gender mainstreaming situation in Parliament;
N. whereas, following the 2003 resolution on gender mainstreaming, each parliamentary committee appoints one of its members as responsible for gender mainstreaming, thus establishing ‘the gender mainstreaming network’; whereas subsequent resolutions on this topic called for the continuous development of this network and for a similar network to be established in the interparliamentary delegations; whereas the network is supported by a network at staff level in the committee secretariats;
O. whereas a questionnaire was filled in by members of the network in order to assess the state of play of gender mainstreaming in their respective policy areas;
P. whereas the MFF (multiannual financial framework) is accompanied by a joint declaration by the three institutions, which agreed that ‘the annual budgetary procedures applied for the MFF 2014-2020 will integrate, as appropriate, gender-responsive elements, taking into account the ways in which the overall financial framework of the Union contributes to increased gender equality (and ensures gender mainstreaming)’; whereas, despite this, the actual commitment to continuing gender mainstreaming and empowering women needs to be bolstered, since existing policies have only been implemented to a modest extent and insufficient budgetary resources have been allocated specifically for gender matters;
Q. whereas gender budgeting has not been consistently applied by any of the EU institutions;
R. whereas the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has been established to contribute to and strengthen the promotion of gender equality, including gender mainstreaming in all EU policies and the resulting national policies; whereas EIGE has developed a Platform on Gender Mainstreaming and a Gender Equality Glossary and Thesaurus to support decision makers, the staff of the EU institutions and governmental bodies with the integration of a gender perspective in their work;
S. whereas gender mainstreaming involves both integrating a gender perspective into the content of the different policies and addressing the issue of the representation of women, men and people of all gender identities in the given policy areas; whereas both dimensions need to be taken into consideration in all phases of the policy-making process;
T. whereas all internal and external EU policies should be designed to benefit boys and girls, and men and women, as well as all other gender identities equally;
U. whereas the implementation of gender mainstreaming is listed among the main weaknesses in the Commission’s evaluation of the gender equality strategy 2010-2015;
V. whereas a gender-sensitive parliament has a crucial role to play in redressing gender imbalances, promoting parity of economic, social and political participation for women and men and expanding the gender equality policy framework;
W. whereas gender mainstreaming training for MEPs and Parliament staff, particularly those in management positions, is key to promoting a gender perspective in all policy areas and stages;
X. whereas insufficient funds and human resources are being allocated to ensure real progress in gender mainstreaming of Parliament’s activities;
Y. whereas the systematic and periodic collection of gender-disaggregated data and statistics in policy impact assessments and in the policy-making process is indispensable for analysing the advancement of gender equality; whereas more qualitative research must be carried out within Parliament in order to establish the significance and impact of gender mainstreaming tools on policy outcomes, resolutions and legislative texts;
Z. whereas female representation in key decision-making positions at political and administrative level, including within Parliament’s political groups, remains low; whereas women tend to chair the committees which are less connected to resource allocation and economic decision making; whereas in order to improve the quality of decisions made, Parliament needs to ensure that the allocation of decision-making positions is evenly spread between genders; whereas men must commit to promoting gender equality in all areas and at all levels and male MEPs must be encouraged to engage with gender mainstreaming in their work;
Aa. whereas Parliament has the organisational structure in place to promote gender mainstreaming within its activities, and this structure must be better coordinated, reinforced and expanded, with fresh political and administrative will, in order to achieve a higher degree of gender mainstreaming;
Ab. whereas greater interinstitutional cooperation on gender mainstreaming between Parliament, the Council and the Commission is needed in order to ensure that gender perspectives can be introduced at all stages of the policy cycle, which would facilitate Parliament’s own gender mainstreaming work;
Ac. whereas input from external stakeholders, such as civil society organisations, grassroots women’s rights and gender equality groups, international institutions, academia and national parliaments, is important in improving Parliament’s gender mainstreaming processes, and in fostering reciprocal exchanges to promote best practice;
Ad. whereas Parliament’s gender mainstreaming resolution, adopted in 2007, called for an assessment to be conducted every two years on gender mainstreaming in its work;
General assessment of the existing institutional framework
1. Takes the view that, in order to integrate a gender perspective into a policy process, different aspects should be considered: the content of the policy and gender representation in the administration and in decision making; also notes that clear data on the impacts of policy are vital to the continuing improvement of gender equality;
2. Notes that within the Parliament’s organisational structure different bodies are in charge of developing and implementing gender mainstreaming both at policy and working life level:
– the High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, which is responsible for promoting full equality between women and men in all aspects of working life in Parliament’s Secretariat;
– the committee responsible for specific action aimed at integrating a gender perspective into the work of the other committees and delegations;
– the gender mainstreaming network;
– the services responsible for the successful implementation of balanced gender representation with regard to all posts in the organisation chart;
3. Regrets that the activities of these different bodies responsible for gender mainstreaming are not being coordinated or integrated within Parliament or with other institutions (no interinstitutional cooperation mechanism for gender mainstreaming); undertakes to establish effective cooperation between all actors in this institutional framework, based on specific mechanisms such as monitoring and performance feedback;
4. Reiterates its commitment to regularly adopt and implement a policy plan for gender mainstreaming within Parliament, with the overall objective of promoting gender equality through effective incorporation of the gender perspective in policies and activities, including decision-making structures and the administration;
5. Calls for ongoing development of the gender mainstreaming network, representing committees but also interparliamentary delegations, and its full involvement in regular monitoring of the state of play of gender mainstreaming across policy areas; notes the need for greater and active participation by MEPs in the network and calls for substitute MEPs to be added to the network in order to increase participation, as is the case for committees and delegations;
6. Stresses that, according to the aforementioned 2014 study on this issue, the most effective tool for including a gender equality perspective in the policy process has been the use of procedures involving cooperation with other committees; emphasises the need for the other committees to support the gender mainstreaming work and to implement it in their activities;
7. Invites the services responsible to continue working on specific measures to promote work life balance; regrets that among EP officials women remain in the majority in the assistants’ function group (AST); calls for a yearly analysis of the state of play of gender equality within Parliament, based on gender disaggregated data, at all levels of staff and political bodies, including parliamentary assistants, and for this reporting to be made public;
8.Calls for the structural barriers to be addressed, and for the creation of an enabling environment for women to take part in decision-making positions at all levels, such as measures for the reconciliation of work and private and family life and positive action measures, through which the number of the underrepresented gender can be increased in positions which are dominated by either women or men; calls for political parties to recognise their responsibility in the promotion of women, as the power to recruit, select and nominate candidates is in the hands of these parties;
9. Deplores the fact that the targets for gender balance at senior and middle management level adopted by the Bureau in 2006 (Kaufmann report) were not reached by the 2009 deadline, nor have they been reached to date; notes that these targets have been subsequently confirmed by the High Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity for the subsequent years; urges for effective and far-reaching measures to be taken so as to reach these gender equality targets within the shortest possible time frame;
10. Notes that the High Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity is responsible for adopting an Action Plan for the Promotion of Equality and Diversity in Parliament and ensuring its implementation; calls on the high level group, with the support of the competent services, to submit a comprehensive gender equality roadmap indicating how to increase the representation of women in middle and senior management positions to 40 % by 2020; invites the Directorate-General for Personnel and the political groups to consider proposing both a woman and a man for Head of Unit positions when posts are vacant;
11. Recommends that the standing rapporteur on gender mainstreaming, once that post has been established, should work together with the High Level Group to ensure that gender mainstreaming targets for Parliament’s secretariat and staff are met;
12. Invites the political groups to consider proposing both a woman and a man for the position of Chair in committees and groups;
13. Notes that equal gender representation in each committee is desirable, to the extent that circumstances allow; invites the political groups to consider nominating MEPs from the underrepresented gender in each committee, in a coordinated fashion; invites the political groups to nominate an equal number of male and female MEPs as members and substitutes of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, in order to encourage the involvement of men in gender equality policy;
Gender mainstreaming tools
14. Stresses that the practice of using GMAs has proved to be more effective than opinions as they are more concise, can be more rapidly submitted and relate to key, specific and delimited issues; reiterates its call on the competent committee to include this practice of GMAs in the Rules of Procedure, taking into account the specific role of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in gender mainstreaming as a horizontal principle; calls for closer cooperation among committees and for effective coordination between the gender mainstreaming network and the competent committee at both political and administrative levels, aimed at bringing a substantial gender dimension into the reports; highlights the importance of the role of the network members in each committee in facilitating effective input from the competent committee through GMAs and opinions, and calls for effective coordination between the responsible members of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the network members in the GMA procedure; reiterates the need for close coordination between the competent committee and lead committees on GMAs and opinions, to ensure optimal scheduling and planning for effective input into the lead committee report;
15. Regrets that despite the interinstitutional declaration on ensuring gender mainstreaming annexed to the MFF, no measures concerning gender budgeting have so far been taken; underlines, in this connection, the need to closely monitor how the principles of the joint declaration have been implemented as regards annual budgetary procedures, and calls for the committee responsible to be given a formal role in the MFF revision;
16. Stresses that gender-responsive budgeting in the form of planning, programming and budgeting that contributes to the advancement of gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s rights is one of the key tools used by policy-makers to tackle the gender gaps; deplores that the gender budgeting exercise has revealed that the gender perspective is far from being assumed in all policies, at all levels and at every stage of the policy-making process; notes that, in this context, it is particularly crucial to build up in-house capacity on gender-responsive budgeting in order to enhance Parliament’s scrutiny role on these matters; notes that the implications of spending and revenue decisions have an extremely different impact on women and men and underlines that MEPs on the relevant committees should take these different effects into consideration in the design of budgets; stresses that gender-responsive budgeting promotes accountability and transparency in respect of Parliament’s commitment to gender equality;
17. Takes note that the Commission has undertaken to continue gender mainstreaming by incorporating gender-equality considerations in impact assessments and evaluations in line with the Better Regulation principles and is considering issuing a report on gender mainstreaming in the Commission in 2017;
18. Reaffirms the need for sufficient allocation of resources also at Parliament level in order to develop gender impact assessments and gender-based analysis; calls on the Commission to perform systematic gender impact assessments on new legislative or policy proposals, on the basis of its reinforced assessment of their impact on fundamental rights and in order to guarantee that the EU is upholding women’s rights; emphasises that such analyses and the data collection methods used need to be sensitive to the experiences of LGBTIQ persons; underlines that committees are to be encouraged to take advantage of internal expertise as well as the external expertise of other institutions and bodies from the public or private sector which are active in promoting gender mainstreaming;
19. Calls on EIGE to regularly submit information to every committee in order to underline the gender perspective in every sector of policy making and to make available the data and tools it has developed, such as the gender mainstreaming platform, as part of a broader capacity-building exercise, addressed also to staff and parliamentary assistants; calls on the Research Service to carry out regular detailed qualitative and quantitative research on the progress of gender mainstreaming in Parliament and the functioning of the organisational structure dedicated to it;
20. Regrets that, at present, EIGE does not have sufficient resources to conduct all the work it is asked to perform, and therefore stresses that there is a need to ensure that EIGE’s budget is amended in accordance with its broad mandate;
21. Underlines the importance and positive impact of using gender-neutral language in its activities; reiterates its support for the Bureau guidelines on gender-neutral language and for their continuous updating, based also on the tools developed by EIGE and at interinstitutional level; calls for specific training courses on the use of gender-neutral language for the translation and interpreting services;
22. Notes that, in the replies to the questionnaires on the state of gender mainstreaming in the parliamentary committees, specific tools were highlighted as being effective in integrating a gender perspective in the work of committees, including:
– distribution of key documents and inclusion of gender equality issues in the terms of reference of studies commissioned;
– focusing attention on the use of specific terminology and definitions in relation to gender equality issues;
– promoting ex-ante and ex-post assessment of draft proposals for legislation and for future agreements;
– training and awareness-raising activities for Members, staff, political advisers and assistants;
and strongly recommends the further development and implementation of these tools in the work of Parliament;
23. Recalls that gender mainstreaming evaluations and programmes also require an effective follow-up measure to be conducted in order to address the effectiveness and possible problems of each action; underlines that it is important to implement corrective measures where needed, and to develop gender mainstreaming if lack of progress is detected after the implementation of corrective measures;
24. Calls for an accreditation system to be established so that those who undergo gender mainstreaming training at Parliament can receive formal certification, which they can carry through their career paths;
25. Recommends that Parliament’s Directorate-General for Communication include a stronger gender perspective in its reporting of Parliament’s policy-making;
26. Expresses its full support for developing targeted and regular gender mainstreaming training, with adequate resources and tailor-made for Parliament specific needs, addressed to all Parliament staff working in policy fields, with more extensive training provided for middle and senior management, specifically Heads of Unit; calls for gender mainstreaming training to be made available for MEPs, parliamentary assistants and political group staff; calls for leadership training to be organised for women, and for women to be offered experience of leadership positions; recommends that training sessions include information on the multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination; highlights the need to ensure that all its services are aware of their responsibilities in implementing gender mainstreaming, including those in charge of human resources, security and facilities; suggests the introduction of specific human resources guidelines effectively implementing gender mainstreaming in order to improve the well-being of all staff, including LGBTIQ people, in the workplace;
Gender mainstreaming in the work of committees
27. Reiterates the call for the commitment to delivering a biannual report on gender mainstreaming in the work of Parliament to be met; is aware of the role that the gender mainstreaming network plays in assessing the state of play of gender mainstreaming in each policy area and recommends that the questionnaire that serves as a basis for the aforementioned report become an annual monitoring method;
28. Notes that, in their answers to the questionnaires, the members of the network generally replied that, in their specific policy area, gender-specific needs were taken into account in various activities such as reports, amendments on gender equality, studies, hearings, missions and exchanges of views;
29.Welcomes the specific initiatives taken by several parliamentary committees in this field; regrets that a large majority of the committees have neither adopted nor discussed an action plan on gender equality for their work; stresses how important it is for the competent bodies to work with all committees and delegations in order to share best practices, including through the gender mainstreaming network, and to establish a clear procedure, to be incorporated into Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, on the adoption of a gender action plan by each committee and delegation; recommends that each committee hold a hearing on gender mainstreaming in its policy area once every two years, to coincide with the drafting of the gender mainstreaming report;
30. Underlines the need to thoroughly assess the functioning of the GM network and identify ways of ensuring closer involvement of and greater awareness among the network members; recommends that members and substitutes of the gender mainstreaming network be committed to gender equality, but points out that they do not necessarily have to be members of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality as this would allow a larger pool of MEPs to work on gender mainstreaming; recommends regular contact and exchanges between the committee responsible and the network;
31. Recommends that the gender mainstreaming network be co-chaired by the committee responsible with another member of the network, the latter being appointed on a rota basis from among the different committees in order to signal that gender mainstreaming involves all the committees;
32. Takes the view that a standing rapporteur on gender mainstreaming will reinforce the current structure, will provide stability to cooperation between the gender mainstreaming network and the committee responsible and will establish a permanent relationship with Parliament’s other gender mainstreaming bodies;
33.Takes the view that an internal monitoring body needs to be created in order to follow up and evaluate ex-post the implementation of tools and actions; calls for the formulation of specific job descriptions for members of staff responsible for gender mainstreaming in committees; calls on the competent authorities to evaluate the progress of gender mainstreaming in the committees and delegations biannually;
Interinstitutional cooperation to support gender mainstreaming
34. Believes that stronger interinstitutional relations will improve the gender balance in EU policy-making; notes that no structured cooperation on gender mainstreaming has yet been established with other institutional partners, such as the Commission, the Council and EIGE; calls on the Commission to propose an appropriate framework for establishing interinstitutional gender mainstreaming cooperation, such as the establishment of an interinstitutional high level working group on gender mainstreaming, and also involving other stakeholders in this field;
35. Recommends that data be provided annually by the European Ombudsman to Parliament’s High Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, as regards complaints about maladministration relating to gender equality in Parliament, with due respect for the Decision of the European Parliament on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman’s duties;
36. Believes that the exchange of best practice with other organisations will strengthen Parliament’s capacity building and effectiveness in the implementation of gender mainstreaming; calls for exchanges of best practice to be organised at all levels with other institutions and organisations such as UN Women, the Council of Europe, the EU institutions and stakeholders involved in promoting gender equality, such as gender equality bodies, the social partners and NGOs; encourages participation in the specific capacity-building programmes of other international organisations and in gaining their support for organising tailor-made gender mainstreaming programmes;
37. Requests that the Directorate-General for Personnel exchange gender equality and diversity best practices and technical assistance, for instance with the US Congress and national equality bodies, on promoting underrepresented racial and ethnic minority communities in short-term recruitment procedures and EPSO competitions; calls for a focus on trainees, and for developing initiatives and programmes dedicated to promoting youth traineeships for young people, particularly women, from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups;
38. Underlines the need to have an open and ongoing dialogue with national parliaments in order to establish regular exchanges of views, exchange new techniques and report back on policy impact assessments, with a view to promoting a shared approach and further developing best practices in advancing gender mainstreaming; recommends organising regular interparliamentary meetings on gender mainstreaming;
39. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.
Gender mainstreaming has been embraced internationally as a strategy towards realising gender equality. In practical terms gender mainstreaming means the integration of a gender perspective into the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, regulatory measures and spending programmes, with a view to promoting equality between women and men, and combating discrimination.
Gender mainstreaming has a double dimension: it requires both integrating a gender perspective to the content of the different policies, and addressing the issue of representation of women and men in the given policy area. Both dimensions – gender representation and gender responsive content - need to be taken into consideration in all phases of the policy-making process.
Although numbers are important, it is relevant 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 entrenched 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. Therefore the current situation demonstrates that the Gender responsive content of the policies is a crucial element for a proper gender equality strategy.
Gender Mainstreaming in the EU
Equality between women and men is recognised by the EU as a fundamental right, a common value of the EU, and a necessary condition for the achievement of the EU objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion.
Since 1996, the Commission committed itself to a ‘dual approach’ towards realising gender equality. This approach involves mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies, while also implementing specific measures to eliminate, prevent or remedy gender inequalities. Both approaches go hand in hand, and one cannot replace the other.
Within the European Parliament, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM Committee) is the main body in charge of promoting gender equality and gender mainstreaming in all the EP’s policy and legislative processes.
The practice of using “gender mainstreaming amendments” to integrate the gender aspect in the reports of other committees was also introduced at the beginning of the 7th legislative term and continues to be successfully applied.
Since 2009 a network of Members responsible for gender-mainstreaming in EP committees has been established as well as an additional network at staff level. The network meets regularly and information is exchanged on ongoing files of interest for the Members of the network and best practice is shared. In the last legislature the delegations have also appointed Members responsible for gender mainstreaming.
Main conclusions of questionnaires answered by the members of the Network
The questionnaire was aimed at investigating the activities and the policy instruments used for gender mainstreaming in every committee and was addressed to all Members of the Network.
The answer to the questionnaire from the GMN member’s acknowledged some good practices but also some problematic issues concerning the effectiveness of the current framework on gender mainstreaming.
The GM Network Members have in general replied that there are activities where the gender specific needs were taken into account in their respective field of competence, such as reports, amendments on gender equality, studies, and exchanges of views. The degree of consideration varies considerably from no activity in the given timeframe to the indication of several policy fields where gender mainstreaming is applied or even considered as a standards element. A majority of Members indicate future themes where the gender dimension is taken into account in various actions taken by the committee such as reports (including implementation reports), hearings, studies, budgetary procedure, annual discharge procedure.
Unfortunately, with respect to the Action Plan on Gender Equality, short-term and long-term objectives for the Committee, the large majority of the committees has neither adopted nor discussed an Action Plan. One committee and one subcommittee adopted an action plan on gender equality until now and few others are discussing the possibility.
However, several Network Members underlined that even without an Action Plan, in their committee gender mainstreaming is promoted and respected in their work using as examples the balance between men and women, the contact with stakeholders and the adoption of Gender Mainstreaming Amendments. Statistics and training were mentioned as actions to support the implementation of an action plan on gender mainstreaming.
Several committees mention that there are several Members active on gender mainstreaming, including Members which are also Members of the FEMM Committee, some other indicated that only the Network´s Members are responsible for gender mainstreaming and one committee established a check list for gender mainstreaming. As regards staff, only few committees indicate that the committee staff has been trained on the topic or has been active on gender mainstreaming.
The question on the regular sharing and distribution of information about gender mainstreaming to Members and staff highlighted that information are often not delivered. Concerning tools to better promote the implementation of gender mainstreaming within the European Parliament, all Members of the Network emphasise as important tools training, use of gender disaggregated data and gender impact assessment. The rate of use of these tools varies considerably between committees from very low to high. Gender impact assessments were particularly highlighted as a tool that could help to provide and implement policies able to address the challenges that EU citizens often face in daily life, in particular concerning women needs and difficulties and that they could be part of a more general assessment on how a draft act affects fundamental rights.
Regarding the practice of gender mainstreaming amendments, it is considered as a good practice but there is a call for improvement: the procedure has to be incorporated in the Rules of Procedure and the cooperation between the FEMM Committee with the GM Member in the specific committee has to be strengthened, including in the drafting phase of the amendments. As to the statement “a gender perspective was incorporated at all levels of the budgetary process” the ranking was very low in all answers received.
Finally, on the question whether the Committee has asked for the opinion or the support from other Committees or bodies in order to carry out a more gendered-balanced analysis or decision, the answers are in general negative for the reference period.
Structure and inter-institutional relations
The European Parliament gradually built up a Gender mainstreaming structure. The assessment of the work of every individual body is positive, however the global picture looks fragmented and a lack of interaction seems to undermine the effectiveness of the system.
In this context the Rapporteur proposed a set of measures aimed at strengthening and making more effective and efficient the current GM structure, including the establishment of a solid inter-institutional network :
An enhanced cooperation with national parliaments, to establish regular exchanges of views and contacts in order to further develop best practices for advancing gender mainstreaming,
A stable relationship between the EP High level group for gender equality and diversity,
A rotating co-presidency of the Gender Mainstreaming Network,
The establishment of a structured cooperation with other institutional partners, such as Commission and EIGE,
The elaboration, by the Commission of an appropriate framework for establishing gender mainstreaming,
A permanent rapporteur on gender mainstreaming to ensure a stable cooperation between the committee on women´s rights and gender equality and the GMN,
An enhanced influence of the committee on women´s right and gender equality on the gender related aspects of the budget (gender budgeting).
Proposed integrated system
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Daniela Aiuto, Maria Arena, Catherine Bearder, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Malin Björk, Viorica Dăncilă, Iratxe García Pérez, Mary Honeyball, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Elisabeth Köstinger, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Angelika Mlinar, Angelika Niebler, Maria Noichl, Marijana Petir, João Pimenta Lopes, Terry Reintke, Jordi Sebastià, Michaela Šojdrová, Ernest Urtasun, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Anna Záborská, Jana Žitňanská
Substitutes present for the final vote
Biljana Borzan, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Arne Gericke, Kostadinka Kuneva, Constance Le Grip, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Dubravka Šuica, Marc Tarabella, Monika Vana
Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote