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Gender: Programme of Action for the mainstreaming of gender equality

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Gender: Programme of Action for the mainstreaming of gender equality

This Communication aims to draw up a systematic and coherent approach to mainstreaming gender equality in the European Community's development policy with a view to achieving its main objectives.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 21 June 2001 - Programme of Action for the mainstreaming of gender equality in Community Development Cooperation [COM(2001) 295 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


In addition, these initiatives in the field of development cooperation are part of a broader Community framework strategy. This initiative aims to mainstream the objectives of doing away with inequalities and promoting gender equality in all Community policies.

1. New approach

The old approach to integrating gender in the development policy focused exclusively on the role of women. The new approach highlighted in the programme of action places greater emphasis on the general relationship between gender and development. From this perspective, it involves tackling the entire problem of gender inequality by also looking at the role of men.

In this respect, the Communication establishes a long-term incremental approach. The Commission also believes that it is time to give priority to positive discrimination measures, which represents a step forward.

2. Main axes

Gender will be integrated around three main axes, namely:

  • the analysis and integration of gender within the priority areas identified by the Community development policy;
  • strengthening gender mainstreaming within projects and programmes at regional and country levels;
  • gender capacity building.

3. Axe I: integration within priority areas

This involves integrating gender equality within the six priority areas identified in the communication on the European Community's development policy:

  • supporting macroeconomic policies and poverty reduction strategies, and implementing social development programmes (education, health, etc.);
  • food security and sustainable rural development.This involves improving access to resources for women, who play a predominant role in agricultural production, and tackling the problem of the lack of protection for their land rights;
  • transport.It is important to ensure equal access to transport by examining the different degrees of mobility allowed to each sex;
  • institutional capacity building, good governance and the rule of law.This aims to ensure that women are not marginalised in decision-making and management processes;
  • trade and development.This involves examining the socio-economic impact of the trade policy to ensure that women are not excluded from trade benefits due to the social situation within the country;
  • regional integration and cooperation.Integration of the gender-development dimension is essential and can result in more effective cooperation.

4. Axe II: mainstreaming gender within projects or programmes designed at country or regional level

The national governments and the Commission must give priority to mainstreaming this dimension, particularly in political dialogue, the partnerships between all the actors (the Member States, civil society, etc.) and the programming and management of the project cycle.

5. Axe III: building gender capacities

It is particularly important to enhance the EC's internal capacities, tools and methods in this area. The communication includes the following proposals:

  • drawing up a reference publication for all staff on mainstreaming gender equality;
  • training staff working in this area to make them aware of gender concerns;
  • strengthening, where necessary, the on-call technical assistance available in this area.

6. Implementation

The programme of action will be implemented over a five-year period (2001-2006). There will be a mid-term evaluation of the results and a final evaluation. It will also form an integral part of the annual report on the implementation of the European Community's development policy.

A special budget line is devoted to mainstreaming gender issues in development cooperation. This will continue to be used to provide additional on-call technical assistance.

7. Background

There is a strong link between gender inequality and poverty. It is estimated that of the 1.5 billion people living in poverty, 70% are women. It not only inequality of access to social and economic resources but also access to a political voice. Gender inequality is a priority cross-cutting theme within the general framework of development policy.

This programme of action is also part of the global political framework for this area adopted by the Community and presented in the following documents: the Communication on integrating gender issues in development cooperation (18 September 1995), the Council Resolution of 20 December 1995 on the same subject and Council Regulation (EC) No 2836/98 of 22 December 1998 on integrating of gender issues in development cooperation.

Last updated: 10.07.2007