It involves 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 ensures that policy-making and legislative work is of higher quality and has a greater relevance for society, because it makes policies respond more effectively to the needs of all citizens – women and men, girls and boys. Gender mainstreaming makes public interventions more effective and ensures that inequalities are not perpetuated.
Gender mainstreaming does not only aim to avoid the creation or reinforcement of inequalities, which can have adverse effects on both women and men. It also implies analysing the existing situation, with the purpose of identifying inequalities, and developing policies which aim to redress these inequalities and undo the mechanisms that caused them.
At European level, the EU Institutions are in charge of implementing gender mainstreaming, whereas at national level, it is up to the governments of Member States. However, it is not only the responsibility of specific individuals working in certain areas or units. While specific structures should be established and persons responsible appointed, the responsibility for implementing gender mainstreaming should be with the entire staff of public institutions, under the leadership of the management.
A political commitment for gender equality and a compatible legal framework are the basic conditions for the development of a successful gender mainstreaming strategy. In addition to concrete objectives and targets in the strategy, gender mainstreaming requires a clear action plan.