Gender mainstreaming within the Structural Funds
To encourage the Member States to make greater use of the Structural Funds in support of measures aimed at eliminating inequalities and promoting equality between women and men.
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, of 12 December 2002, on the "Implementation of gender mainstreaming in the Structural Funds programming documents 2000-2006" [COM(2002) 748 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
1. Incorporating the equal opportunities dimension into structural policies reflects the need to lessen inequalities between women and men as regards employment, training, access to the labour market and participation in the decision-making process. The European Structural Funds (ERDF, ESF, EAGGF and FIFG) are valuable instruments helping to attain these objectives, in accordance with legal and economic requirements. In particular, the Funds can play a key role in helping to reconcile work and family life, and integrate disadvantaged women.
2. This Communication provides an overview of the way in which gender mainstreaming has been taken into account in the Structural Funds programming for the period 2000-2006. It takes stock of the progress made and highlights a number of examples, while also identifying areas where progress is slow.
3. The purpose of the Communication is to give input to the mid-term review of the Structural Funds, when the allocation of the performance reserve will be determined, together with any adjustment as regards fund allocation, targets, priorities and measures.
4. The Communication contains recommendations aimed at removing the obstacles to successful gender mainstreaming within the Structural Funds.
5. Accordingly, areas for immediate action on the part of the Member States are identified:
- Specific measures targeting the under-represented sex are essential as a first step, for which there has to be clear dedicated funding. Member States and their managing authorities are invited to introduce incentives aimed at increasing the perception and importance of the gender dimension in all Structural Fund programmes. For example, the selection criteria could, from the outset, include the award of additional points to projects which contribute to gender equality, i.e. having balanced participation;
- The heavy emphasis placed on gender mainstreaming in some Member States may make their actual funding allocation difficult to identify and monitor. Member States are therefore invited to identify clearly, on the one hand, the funding allocated to specific gender equality actions and, on the other hand, programmes and projects contributing to equality (gender mainstreaming). Member States are expected to report on these figures with clear indicators as part of the mid-term review of the Structural Funds as from 2003;
- Effective gender mainstreaming is difficult and requires specific expertise. In this relatively new area, especially as regards the Structural Funds:
a) Member States are requested to encourage, through managing authorities, monitoring committees, local programme and project managers, particularly in the short term, the use of gender equality expertise, and to ensure the presence of representatives of equality bodies and research institutes within Structural Fund monitoring committees;
b) Member States are requested to establish awareness-raising measures and training in gender mainstreaming for managing authorities, monitoring committees, programme and project managers and their partners;
- Assessing the impact of gender equality requires clear qualitative and quantitative indicators and gender-disaggregated statistics for monitoring and evaluating results. Member States are urged to ensure, e.g. through their managing authorities, that gender-disaggregated statistics and impact assessment become an integral part of Structural Fund operations, including in "non-traditional" gender equality areas such as infrastructure, transport or environment;
- Each Member State is invited to appoint a high-level representative to coordinate the national strategy for gender equality, to contribute to the coordination of EU strategy and to participate in a high-level group intended to support the implementation of gender mainstreaming in Structural Fund operations.
5) FOLLOW-UP WORK
European Parliament resolution, of 24 February 2003, on the objectives of equality of opportunities between women and men in the use of the Structural Funds [A5-0059/2003].
On 2 December 1996, the Council adopted a resolution on mainstreaming equal opportunities for men and women into the European Structural Funds [Official Journal C 386, 20.12.1996].
The Council calls upon the Member States to take full advantage of existing possibilities for programming in the context of various forms of Structural Fund operations in order to promote equal opportunities, and to examine the scope for refocusing programmes in the light of the priorities laid down in Essen and confirmed in Cannes and Madrid, namely the battle against unemployment and for equal opportunities.
The Council calls upon the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the authorities responsible at all levels for promoting equal opportunities take part in the work of the monitoring committees, so that equal opportunities are regularly taken into account, and balanced participation by men and women in decision-making bodies is encouraged. The Commission and the Member States are called upon to cooperate in gathering statistics in order to assess the place of men and women in social and economic life, to consider how to take advantage of the flexibility offered by the annual reprogramming of unused appropriations in order to increase efforts to promote equal opportunities, and to ensure that the assessments determine the extent to which account has been taken of the principle of promoting equal opportunities during the current programming period in order to be able to determine whether adjustments are necessary for the remainder of the period.
The Council calls upon the Commission to systematise the identification of good practice and the dissemination of information and experience relating to good practice, and to review the implementation of the Resolution each year, in its annual report on the Structural Funds.