According to the European Commission, gender mainstreaming is, “the integration of a gender perspective into every aspect of EU intervention - preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, legal measures and spending programmes - with a view to achieving equality between women and men.”
The EU recognises equality between women and men as a fundamental right, a common value of the EU and a necessary condition for the Union to achieve its objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion. Sadly, the concept of gender mainstreaming is either unknown or underestimated by many decision makers.
Understanding how to design, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate policies from a gender perspective will strengthen EU policies. It will increase their societal relevance and ensure that the fundamental rights enshrined in the treaties and in the charter are fully respected.
To achieve this goal, gender mainstreaming should be viewed as a continuous process, supported by systematic efforts to integrate gender at all levels, in all areas and into all stages of policymaking and implementation processes.
Parliament supports implementing gender mainstreaming in its work. The first plenary resolution on gender mainstreaming was adopted in 2003, establishing a network of members that ensure the implementation of gender mainstreaming in the work of each committee. The Parliament's womens' rights and gender equality committee is responsible for the implementation and further development of gender mainstreaming in all policy sectors, and for providing resources for the above-mentioned network.
Every two years, this committee draws up a report on gender mainstreaming in the work of Parliament's committees and delegations. During the previous legislature, two reports were adopted in plenary.
This latest report takes stock of the state of play inside the Parliament on promoting and achieving gender mainstreaming and also contains concrete recommendations on how to extend these objectives.
As the current rapporteur, my aim is specifically to consider two different aspects of integrating a gender perspective into policy processes; gender representation in the workforce and in the decision-making and the content of the policy.
Gender mainstreaming is not merely the responsibility of specific individuals working in certain areas or units. The responsibility lies with the entire staff under the leadership of the management and with every parliamentary committee and delegation.
It is also relevant to point out that gender mainstreaming alone is not enough, it has to be coupled with specific actions; it is not a policy goal in its own right, but rather a means to achieve gender equality.