Public Group on Gender
Public Group on Gender > 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign

The 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign is a dedicated period of the year to create momentum, raise awareness, and coordinate action to combat this global pandemic. 

The EU is at the forefront of combating gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Europe and around the world by supporting partner countries, civil society, and other stakeholders with financial and technical assistance, taking a public stance and engaging in open dialogues in the different contexts in which they operate. 

This Wiki page is created to collect the many initiatives, experiences and good practices that EUDs and HQ Units implement and promote to eliminate GBV and VAWG. You can share stories, articles, documents, press releases, videos, photographs and any other materials that were produced in the framework of EU funded actions during the current year to contribute to the 16 days campaign.

Read the EC Joint Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November 2015 at: 


Public Group on Gender > Leave No One behind - Training presentations and documents

Leave No One behind - Training presentations and documents

In this folder are collected presentation and useful documents used during the Making sure EU development cooperation leaves no one behind training - 24-26 October 2016.

At this link you can download the following documents:

  • Template EUD examples;
  • Mainstreaming in PPCM: Identification
  • Mainstreaming RBA in PCM: Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Mainstreaming RBA in PCM: Policy Dialogue 
  • Mainstreaming RBA in PCM: Formulation 
  • RBA Toolkit
  • Disabilities in the development coopration
  • Overview gender equality in development cooperation
  • Rights-based Approach for sustainable development 
  • EU Committments
  • Mainstreaming in justice programmes (at this link)

Link to the capacity4dev event page

Public Group on Gender > EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020

EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020

The Gender Action Plan for the period 2016-2020 stresses the need for the full realisation of women’s and girls’ full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Here you can find the following documents:

  • Gender Action Plan 2016-2020– Council Conclusions by clicking here
  • Guidance note on the EU Gender Action Plan 2016 – 2020 avaiable for EC staff through HQ 

What does the EU want to achieve with the GAP II?

The EU wants a world where the rights of girls and women are claimed, valued and respected by all, and where everyone is able to fulfil their potential and contribute to a more fair and just society. The EU is therefore fully committed to break the vicious cycle of gender discrimination by supporting partner countries to establish a more enabling environment for the fulfilment of girls' and women's rights and to achieve real and tangible improvements in gender equality.

Gender equality is not just a matter of social justice, but also one of "smart economics": women’s participation in the economy is essential for sustainable development and economic growth. An OECD study estimated that closing the labour force gender gap by 2030 could yield a potential average gain of 12% in relation to the size of the total economy across OECD countries. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30% and raise total agricultural outputs. This could lift an estimated 100-150 million people out of hunger worldwide, amongst other benefits.

Overall, evidence shows that when women are given equal opportunities and access to resources and to decision-making, communities are more prosperous and more peaceful. The EU wants to assist partners in effectively using this significant transformative potential.


What is really new about the vision for 2016-2020?

There is a focus on thematic pillars for the first time. This means that four pivotal areas have been identified which could transform the lives of women and girls if action is taken:

The three thematic pillars are:

  • Ensuring girls' and women's physical and psychological integrity
  • Promoting the social and economic rights / empowerment of girls and women
  • Strengthening girls' and women's voice and participation.

There is also a fourth, horizontal pillar:

  • Shifting the institutional culture to more effectively deliver on EU commitments.

Another new aspect is the fact that gender analysis will be done systematically for all new external actions undertaken, such as in projects, and bilateral and regional programming. EU actors[1] reporting on these activities will use sex-disaggregated data wherever available. Concerted efforts will be made to generate data when needed.

Is this vision only applicable to partner countries outside the EU?

The EU has another framework for gender equality within the EU. This particular framework for action covers the EU's activities in third countries, especially in developing, enlargement and neighbourhood countries, including in fragile, conflict and emergency situations.

Its implementation is the joint responsibility of the Commission services and the European External Action Service (EEAS). Coordination and collaboration with EU Member States will continue to be ensured.

An essential part of this framework will also be to promote policy coherence with other internal EU policies (Policy Coherence for Development). Moreover, it will be implemented in full alignment with the EU Human Rights Action Plan.

How is the Commission going to evaluate that the objectives have been fulfilled?

This new framework for action (formally a "Joint Staff Working Document") and the measures set out in it provide the monitoring and accountability framework against which to measure progress on gender equality and girls' and women's rights and empowerment. EU actors are expected to deliver results against this framework and to report transparently on progress and setbacks. Central to the reporting approach is:

  • systematic reporting on the institutional culture shift for all EU actors against the indicators set out in the document;
  • systematic gender analysis for all new external actions undertaken (e.g. projects). This analysis will inform reporting choices and selection of indicators. The identification of priorities and indicators will be completed by mid-2016;
  • an annual reporting by all EU actors on the EU's contribution to at least one objective per thematic priority. EU actors reporting on these activities will use sex-disaggregated data whenever available. Concerted efforts will be made to generate data when needed.

How is this framework going to be financed? Is the €100 million all that is on the table?

Despite significant increases in recent years, the overall funding resources for gender equality and women's empowerment actions are still not fully adequate. The EU is committed to work towards reducing the gap between our commitments and our investments in gender equality and women’s rights.

The EU will use a wide range of external assistance instruments:

  • Specific bilateral or regional development support programmes - for instance the women's economic empowerment project financed by the EU Trust Fund for Central African Republic, and the Pan-African programme on female genital mutilation;
  • A number of targeted activities are also to be funded through the Global Public Goods and Challenges thematic programme included in the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), with around EUR 100 million committed to improve the lives of girls and women.
  • In addition, gender aspects are taken into consideration in several other thematic actions like food security, rural development, private sector development, and for instance, gender specific actions will be developed under the climate change programme for the years 2014-2016 (estimated EUR 16 million, DCI).

Different aid modalities (such as budget support, support to civil society organisations and thematic interventions) are envisaged for its implementation.

In the period 2007-2013, the EU committed an amount of around EUR 1 258 million to activities targeted at improving gender equality and girls' and women's empowerment. Provisional OECD data shows that in 2013, 39% of the EU ODA considered gender dimensions as either significant or principal.

We will aim to increase our financial contribution to gender objectives in the current EU financial framework 2014-2020 through targeted activities and gender mainstreaming. But most importantly, we will strive to ensure that all EU's external assistance is "gender sensitive".


What is the relation of this document with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) being discussed by the international community? 

The EU has been advocating for gender equality in three ways: first, for gender equality to be a stand-alone goal in the new global agenda for sustainable development; secondly, for gender equality to be mainstreamed in all other goals; thirdly, for data to be collected in a sex-disaggregated way.

In addition, the new framework aligns itself with the priorities identified at global level. Most of the indicators proposed in it are based on the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators. As the SDGs will be formally adopted at the United Nations later this week, the indicators will be reviewed in 2016 to fully align with the final set of SDGs and the finalised set of SDG indicators.

Public Group on Gender > EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 > Guidance note on the EU Gender Action Plan 2016 – 2020
Public Group on Gender > EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 > EU Gender Action Plan 2016 - 2020 annual implementation reports

EU Gender Action Plan 2016 - 2020 annual implementation reports

Public Group on Gender > Gender Mainstreaming in PCM

Gender Mainstreaming in PCM

1. Description

Gender mainstreaming is the integration of the gender perspective into every stage of policy processes – design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation – with a view to promoting equality between women and men. It means assessing how policies impact on the life and position of both women and men – and taking responsibility to re-address them if necessary. This is the way to make gender equality a concrete reality in the lives of women and men creating space for everyone within the organizations as well as in communities - to contribute to the process of articulating a shared vision of sustainable human development and translating it into reality. 

The project approach is a specific aid modality consisting of a series of activities aimed at bringing about clearly defined objectives and results within a given time period and with a specified budget.

Gender mainstreaming in the project approach means that objectives and results are defined is such a way that aspirations, wishes and needs of women and men are equally valued and favoured through the project activities. Projects with a gender perspective contribute to the achievement of the policy goals of partner governments and the EC regarding women’s rights and gender equality.

A development project is a way of clearly defining and managing investments and change processes. Gender blind projects can change in a negative or positive way the existing gender relations; however they do not render accounts of the differentiated effects and impact on the lives of men and women, boys and girls.

A project should also have:

  • - Clearly identified stakeholders including the primary target group and the final beneficiaries. A gender sensitive project identifies gender aware stakeholders and gender specific target groups and beneficiaries;
  • - Clearly defined coordination, management and financing arrangements. In a gender sensitive project, these arrangements include equal opportunity policies, gender balanced human resource management, and gender budget initiatives;
  • - A monitoring and evaluation system (to support performance management). In a gender sensitive project this includes gender-disaggregated data collection and gender performance indicators; and
  • - An appropriate level of financial and economic analysis, which indicates that the project’s benefits will exceed its costs. In a gender sensitive project this includes gender budget analysis.

2. Practical example of implementation

Nicaragua: Mainstreaming gender equality in Security Sector Reform (SSR)

Culture and customs are often mentioned as obstacles for change, especially for gender mainstreaming in Security Sector Reform. Karin Grimm from the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) explained during the workshop on ‘Gender, Peace, Security and Development’ (Brussels, 2009) that culture is changeable and often the best vehicle for SSR-transformations. One of the challenges in most post-conflict countries is to address the increased sexual and domestic violence against women. In the post-conflict situation in Nicaragua a model was developped to mainstream gender equality in police reform.

In Nicaragua police reform in 1993 resulted in the successful formula of Commissioners of Women and Children. These commissioners are spread all over the country to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence, and to protect and support survivors with a range of healing and empowering services such as juridical, medical and psychosocial assistance.

The modernization of the Nicaraguan police force resulted not only in the creation of these commissioners, but also in a range of initiatives that brought great changes in the Nicaraguan police. These broad gender reforms took place in the 1990s, following the pressure from Nicaraguans women’s movement and from police women themselves. As a result:

  • women’s policy stations were created, providing special attention to women and children victims of violence
  • the recruitment criteria were renewed, adapting the height and physical exercise requirements to feminine applicants
  • trainings on GBV were introduced at the police academies
  • a Gender Advisory Board (Consejo Consultivo de Genero) was established for the analysis and the discussion of the working conditions of female officers
  • Aminta Granera was appointed as Chief of the National Police in Nicargua in 2006, the first women to be Chief of the Police in Latin America.

This reform had a great impact on the Nicaraguan Police, which has the highest proportion of female officers in the world. The Nicaraguan police has developed many successful initiatives to address sexual and domestic violence and has gained much credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the population.

3. EU Policy documents on this issue

Toolkit on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in EC Development Cooperation (2009)

Briefing Note on Gender Budgeting

4. Articles

Good Practice from Chile: Gender in Management Improvement Programme (June 2009)

How to mainstream a gender perspective in the state apparatus as cross-cutting issue throughout the system?

This is one of the mayor challenges faced by governmental Institutions in charge of promoting women’s rights and gender equality in different countries. In Chile the national Women’s Machinery has been institutionally strengthened to keep management of all Public Services and Ministries accountable on gender issues.

Management Improvement Programme (PMG)

The National Service of Women (SERNAM by its Spanish abbreviation) in Chili has integrated a gender perspective through the process of reforms for the Modernization of the State. This reform has been promoted by the Ministry of Finance who has designed an innovative Programme to Improve Management (PMG by its Spanish abbreviation), which includes a range of changes in management in the areas of:

i) Human resources

ii) quality of service delivery to users

iii) planning and control of land management

iv) financial administration.

The accomplishment of the results pursued in these areas is linked to economic incentives for the officials in charge of implementing these changes in each of the Public Services and Ministries.

Gender Focus in PMG

SERNAM negotiated with the Ministry of Finance and achieved to add a fifth area – the Gender PMG - related to the inclusion of a gender perspective in this management reform programme

(PMG). This means that all public services and ministries are obliged to show their commitment regarding the incorporating of gender at institutional level with measures and actions planned on annual basis. Moreover, it is SERNAM itself who is certifying whether gender issues have been addressed in the different public services and Ministries.

In fact, there have been several cases where SERNAM did not approve the gender dimension of the PMG. As a result these services didn’t receive their incentives.

New role SERNAM

For this new role in the state apparatus, SERNAM counts with a Council of Ministers for Equality (political body) plus a technical advisory board. It was also institutionally equipped for approving and certifying whether or not a Ministry or Public Service has accomplished its Gender PMG.

The way forward

For SERNAM, working with the Ministry of Finance on the Gender PMG has been a qualitative step forward both regarding institutional development of Women’s Machinery and gender mainstreaming in Ministries and Public Services. Nevertheless, to enhance progress of the agenda of gender equality and women rights, not only management should address gender issues, but also comprehensive sector commitments are needed, as well as gender responsive programming and policies of each Public Service or Ministry.

Valeria AMBROSIO, Independent Consultant, Chili

Public Group on Gender > Equal access to education

Equal access to education

1. Description

Persistent gender inequalities prevail as regards access to education in most developing countries. Of the more than 103 million children worldwide who are not in school, 57% are girls. Of the world’s 771 million illiterate adults, almost two thirds are women. These disparities are reflected in gender-based occupational segregation and consequent rigidities in the labour market.

2. Practical example of implementation

Northern Pakistan education programme

3. Articles

Press Release: Gender inequalities in education persist (05/10/2009)

Despite progress in recent years, gender differences and inequalities persist in education in terms of subject preferences and performance, and in cultural aspects of the education and training experience. This is a key message from a new independent expert report on gender and education issued by the European Commission. The authors also point out that gender differences in education are closely interlinked with other factors such as social class, ethnicity and minority status and call on policy-makers to take this into account.

The issues addressed in the report, entitled "Gender and Education (and employment) - lessons from research for policy makers", include the following:

  • How are gender inequalities created or reproduced within and around contemporary schools, in employment and in wider society?
  • Why do boys drop out of school more often than girls?
  • Why do girls and young women not identify with maths, science and technology subjects and related careers?

The Report was d rafted by NESSE, the independent N network of Experts in Social Sciences of Education & training, and summarises key findings from international research on gender and education and highlights their implications for policy development and implementation. The report reviews evidence and concrete recommendations that can be useful to policy and decision-makers in the field of education and in related fields of public policy.

Key findings

Researchers point out that social class, ethnicity and minority status all contribute to a complex picture from which it is difficult to isolate gender differences and inequalities in educational performance. Consequently, they argue, policies should not treat women and men, girls and boys, as homogenous groups in policy terms.

Reading: The research reveals that reading attitudes and behaviour are determined to a great degree by gender. Evidence suggests that it is boys from working class backgrounds in all ethnic groups and cultures who are the most likely to have literacy difficulties and to leave school early.

Fields of academic study: The report reveals that gender continues to be a factor in certain fields of academic study, with men dominating science, construction and engineering, and women dominating the arts, humanities and care-related disciplines.

Role of parents and peers: The research shows that parents and peers are both powerful players in the gender game; they can and do reinforce gender-stereotypical expectations and behaviour. It also emerged that the attitudes of teachers and teacher educators are crucial in facilitating change.

Academic streaming: The report demonstrates that countries with highly selective academic streaming can be disadvantageous to girls and women in mathematics and science, and to boys in that they may be disproportionately placed in lower streams.

What can be done?

The authors of the report point out that g ender equality does not happen by accident. They suggest that promoting gender equality in education involves promoting equality in the culture and processes of schooling. Evidence shows that a caring, non-hierarchical and respectful school system not only reduces early school leaving for both boys and girls, it also promotes positive attitudes to learning that sustain people educationally in adult life - it encourages lifelong learning.

The research shows that the more equal societies are in economic and social terms, the greater the likelihood there is of having gender equality in education.

The report argues that gender inequality is difficult to understand and to challenge in isolation from other cultural, political, economic and affective injustices. It suggests that gender inequality can most effectively be addressed in a wider equality and social justice context.

Copies of the report will be distributed and discussed at the forthcoming conference on gender and educational attainment organised by the Swedish Presidency in Uppsala in November 2009, to be attended by a large number of national policy makers.

To know more

The full report: " Gender and Education (and employment) - lessons from research for policy makers" (in EN, with summaries in FR and DE).

Public Group on Gender > Gender and TVET

Gender and TVET

1. Description

In many partner countries the EC supports the strengthening of the Technical and Vocational Training System, in order to meet new demands for skilled human resources.

Successful TVET system reforms need to address current gender-based inequalities in the economy, and to ensure that both men and women have equal access to new technologies, skills, and opportunities being introduced. This can be better achieved by putting the focus on training for employability, and systematically including a gender perspective. A careful gender analysis of the labour market can prove useful to make TVET systems more efficient and relevant to the demands for flexibility in fast-changing economic scenarios.

2. Practical example of implementation

Sudan: delivering pro-poor vocational training
Khartoum State has seen rapid urbanisation since the 1970s, largely a result of mass rural-to-urban migration of a young population, caused by the combined impact of civil war, desertification and drought.
To support the capacity of Khartoum state to deliver vocational training services, especially to poor people, the UN and EU worked with the state to develop training facilities, ensuring a link between market-oriented skills training and entrepreneurship development. The aim is to generate employment opportunities for young women and men, ex-combatants and internally displaced people. In 2009, four new vocational training centers became operational providing the urban poor with technical and entrepreneurial training in line with market demands. The curricula in these centers has been developed and offered in line with market demand.

3. EU Policy documents on this issue

Briefing Note on Gender and TVET

Council Directive of 9 February  976 on the Implementation of  the Principle of Equal Treatment for Men and Women as Regards Access to Employment, Vocational Training and Promotion, and Working Conditions (76/207/EEC)

Commission Recommendation of 24 November 1987 on vocational Training for Women (87/567/EEC)

4. Articles

ETF delegation and Palestinian ministers discuss vocational education (October 2010)

Public Group on Gender > Gender in Decentralisation and PSR

Gender in Decentralisation and PSR

1. Description

The concepts of Democracy, Good Governance and Decentralisation are inextricably intertwined. At the heart of all of these concepts lies the notion of eliminating inequalities based on a variety of conditions (including gender) and promoting equality of participation and access, and control in all spheres.

With decentralisation the local level of governance is taking on increasing importance as a service provider and point of access to the political system and is thus a key arena in the struggle for women’s political empowerment. Local government has the possibility to be an important point of access to the political system for women, and serves as the “first rung on the ladder”.

2. Practical example of implementation

Supporting Mauritanian civil society for better local governance


In Mauritania, a comprehensive civil society support programme is due to start in mid 2007.28

During the identification phase, non-state actors insisted on the need to include a component aimed at promoting local governance. The purpose is fourfold: (i) to raise awareness of issues of local development and local governance among local populations, (ii) to strengthen the capacity of civil society to analyse the local development context and fully participate in planning processes, (iii) to promote new forms of dialogue and collaboration between state and civil society in the management of local affairs and (iv) to enhance the participation of women in decision-making processes.

Alongside this civil society programme, the European Commission is now also involved with EU Member States in a joint programming process for a decentralisation support programme. This will primarily target the national policy framework, the different dimensions of decentralisation (including territorial planning) and the strengthening of local governments. The need to involve civil society in the design and implementation of the decentralisation process has been fully acknowledged by the stakeholders involved. The challenge will be to ensure coherence and alignment of both programmes so that civil society organisations gradually become able to play their roles.

3. EU Policy documents on this issue

Briefing Notes on Gender and Decentralisation

Governance and Development: Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee COM (2003) 615 final

4. Articles

Increasing Participation in Democratic Institutions Through Decentralization: Empowering Women and Scheduled Castes and Tribes Through Panchayat Raj in Rural India 

Public Group on Gender > Gender, Peace and Security

Gender, Peace and Security

1. Description

On 8 December 2008, EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs and the EU Commissioner for External Relations adopted the joint Commission and Council ‘Comprehensive EU Approach to the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security’. This document, drawing on previous experiences and lessons identified, outlines common definitions and principles, and includes a series of specific measures to move forward.

The document adopts a holistic approach, recognising the close links between peace, security, development and gender equality. There is not only the need to promote the participation and the protection of women in conflict situations and peace building but also the need to ensure that these actions are supported by wider development considerations, such as the promotion of women’s economic security and opportunities and their access to health services and education.

2. Practical example of implementation
EU Police Mission and EU advisory and assistance mission for security reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  

Gender mainstreaming is an essential aspect of the mandates of the EU missions in support of Security Sector Reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. EUPOL and EUSEC gender experts integrate multidisciplinary teams working on human rights, sexual violence and child protection. These teams are based in Kinshasa, Goma and Bukavu, where they participate actively in the global strategy against sexual and gender based violence in co-operation with national and local actors as well as international NGO’s.

EUPOL provides technical advice to the Congolese National Police on integrating gender issues in its daily procedures. Much of this assistance is carried out by supporting the Follow up Committee for the Police Reform in DRC, in particular its working group on sexual violence and human rights. The mission also aims at eradicating impunity for sexual and gender based violence by strengthening penal procedures.

EUSEC assists Congolese authorities in the reform of the national army, and to complement its primary advisory role, the mission supports projects that aim at raising the awareness on human rights and gender among the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). It assists the army in sensitising its soldiers and officers on human rights, gender and sexual violence, and also in the provision of better and more stable living conditions for the soldiers and their families.

3. EU Policy documents on this issue

Comprehensive approach to the EU implementation of the UNSCR 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security

4. Articles

Thematic Newsletter June 2010

Public Group on Gender > Gender, Trade and Employment

Gender, Trade and Employment

1. Description

Trade liberalization brings many changes and can be both positive and negative for both women and men depending on the current distribution of economic power and the changes and opportunities introduced.

Trade, trade policies and trade liberalization impact differently on a country’s citizens depending on their current place in the economy, and their respective access to and control over the economic assets of that society.

Trade liberalisation is not gender neutral. Gender analysis should be fully integrated into all aspects of trade policy, taking into account the invisibility of women’s production in the informal economy, women’s unequal access to formal labour markets, and the increased precariousness of labour resulting from the spread of the informal economy.

It is now well-recognized that many inequalities in economic ownership, participation and decision-making are gender-based. For example women and men may have unequal access to and control over land, credit, information and decision-making on economic matters. Furthermore, the gendered division of labour often means that formal, income-generating jobs are more often performed by men; this includes any jobs in the public domain and is also reflected in men’s greater prominence in cash-crop farming.

2. Practical example of implementation

Measuring the gender impact of EU-Latin America trade relations

The lack of a gender perspective in the EU-Latin America Agreements, the scarcity of information and tools to measure the effects of trade on gender relations and the lack of women's participation in the decision-making process were the problems addressed by a project implemented by WIDE (Women in Development Europe) with EC funding.

The project aimed at raising the issue of the gender implications of trade policies in the discussion forum of the EU and national government institutions dealing with trade. It also intended to strengthen the participation of civil society, particularly women, in the decision-making process shaping trade agreements. It carried out various consultations on gender and trade throughout the project period, involving

EU and Latin American trade officials in regular debate with women from NGOs working on gender and trade, and formulated concrete recommendations addressing the EU, the Mexican government and governments of MERCOSUR countries.

In order to provide substantive contributions for the debate, the project undertook research on the gender impact of EU-Latin America trade agreements, which was published and widely disseminated as a policy paper entitled International Trade and Gender Inequality: A gender analysis of the trade agreements between the European Union and Latin America: Mexico and MERCOSUR. The project was also able to develop and propose the use of analytical tools to measure the effects of international trade and trade policies on gender relations, including a set of indicators linking trade policy variables to the situation of women. Results are available in the publication Instruments for Gender Equality in Trade Agreements: European Union-MERCOSUR-Mexico.

Regional initiative for the equality of women in employment in Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru

5.3 EU Policy documents on this issue

Briefing Note on Gender and Trade

5.4 Articles

Promoting business women in Africa: “High end products for high end consumers" (10/03/2010)

For more than 15 years, Nigest Haile has supported women entrepreneurs in her home country Ethiopia as well as in other African countries. In an interview, the executive Director of the “Centre for African Women Economic Empowerment" (CAWEE), which was created in 2004 with the objective of empowering women exporters in Africa, explains why Europe should not loose out on making business with Africa’s growing community of female producers and exporters.
Do you think “made in Africa” is an asset and advantage or an obstacle?
It is an opportunity. The women we work with want to improve the image of the continent abroad and shape that of its individual countries. We are able to use techniques that are hundreds of years old; we have so much artwork and ancient handicrafts to offer. Yes, we are poor – but there is so much more to African countries: We have a rich cultural heritage and a beautiful diversity. What we are offering is uniquely African with hand-made products that reflect our cultural heritage.
How do African producers compete with other regions on the EU market?
We do not directly compete with suppliers from Asia for instance. We had to find our niche. We have neither the capacity nor the intention to supply the mass-market abroad. What we are trying to provide are high-end products for high-end consumers.
Why is the EU important for African women entrepreneurs?
For several reasons: First of all, the EU is a huge market, much richer and closer to us than the US. From our experience, Europeans tend to be very interested in cultural or traditionally produced products and are prepared to pay a decent price for it. Secondly, women entrepreneurs receive lots of support in the way they are leading their enterprises. Women tend to be much more socially aware and responsible as entrepreneurs than men. With decent working conditions and fair pay they have the potential to become role-models in the business world – something European institutions have recognized and want to support.
How well accepted are women entrepreneurs in African society?
Women in our countries are wives, mothers and daughters before being business women. No matter how much they split themselves, they face cultural and traditional barriers which do not allow them to fully participate in the business world. They are not able to take clients out for dinner because they have to run home to be with their families. They cannot travel around to meet potential buyers or represent their business at fairs because nobody is there to take care of their children or sick parents. Supporting women as entrepreneurs – no matter how successful – is not part of the culture.
What are the main “institutional” obstacles for women in business?
The major problem is getting finances, like capital, credits or loans. Women cannot get loans or financing because they lack any kind of security. All assets are in the names of their husbands or fathers. Without financial liquidity, the businesses are unable to respond to the huge orders they are getting, to expand their premises or employ new staff. These businesses will never have the chance to grow.
What is your solution?
The aim is to find ways and means to get a smooth and gradual development everybody can adjust to – the women and their personal environment alike. This means that we don’t only provide for training, networking and mentoring but we have to make sure these offers can be accessible and tailored to the situation of the women. We had successful experiences with business meetings during the day, workshops on the companies’ premises, efficient and well-structured trainings. One-to-one consultations and individual mentoring help to analyze single businesses. In general, there have to be opportunities for them to mix and mingle with buyers or other business people without putting them in compromising situations.

Public Group on Gender > Gender-based violence and discrimination

Gender-based violence and discrimination

1. Description

The definition of violence against women is based on the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women:

"the term 'violence against women' means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life".

"The EU states that the obstacles to exercising their socio-economic and political rights increase women's exposure to violence". (Source:  "EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them")

2. Practical examples of implementation

Women Against Rape, Botswana

3. EU Policy documents on this issue

EU Guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discriminations against them

Recommendation Rec(2002) of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the protection of women  against violence adopted on 30 April 2002 and Explanatory Memorandum

4. Articles

Ambassador alerts EC Projects to raise awareness and prevent gender based violence

Peru, March/April 2009 - The Delegation of the European Commission to Peru actively joined the International Women’s Day in Peru with the motto «Women and men united to end violence against women and girls», and supported the Campaign of the United Nations to end violence against women.

Ambassador Antonio Cardoso, Head of the Delegation in Peru, called on all directors of EC projects in Peru and the Andean region to encourage awareness-raising activities that contribute to the prevention and eradication of violence against women. Additionally, the Delegation widely distributed the EU guidelines to combat violence against women and girls.

The rates of domestic violence in Peru have not changed since 2000. There are 42% women who at least once were physically attacked by their husbands or partners. Each year around one million and a half of Peruvian women suffer physical violence, whereas the number of feminicides has increased in the past years.

In March 2009, the Government of Peru created the first National Register of gender crime. The creation of this register will help their identification, but only if it is accompanied with proper capacity building initiatives aimed to the law enforcement agents. The government has recently launched the new National Plan against Violence towards Women 2009-2015. It involves all the Ministries, local and regional governments, proposing clear tasks, indicators and periods of achievement.

The EC supports Human Rights projects to attend victims of gender based violence and to build capacity and advocacy networks aimed at prevention of violence against women and girls and contributes to the implementation of the recommendations of CEDAW to prevent violence, punish offenders and provide services to victims.

Roxana Guerra.

Public Group on Gender > Women and Health

Women and Health

1. Description

In the field of health, the main area where serious Gender Equality concerns exist is the sphere of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Most health indicators in SRHR are especially worrying: high maternal mortality, low prevalence of contraceptive use and low percentages of births in the presence of skilled birth attendants. It is crucial to invest in equal health access not only because it constitutes a basic human right, but also because it produces many concrete benefits. These extend from improving the overall health of individuals and families, to promoting economic growth, and contributing to Gender Equality and social inclusion.

2. Practical example of implementation

Fighting HIV transmission in Burkina Faso

3. Articles

Good Practice from Liberia: Women’s Reproductive Health and Economic Empowerment (December 2009)

The Fistula Rehabilitation and Reintegration Project in Liberia is a good practice to enhance women’s reproductive health and economic empowerment.

Women with fistula are often rejected by their husbands, their families and their communities. The Fistula Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center (FRRC) in Liberia treat young women with various types and severity of fistula. The stories of women fistula survivors are stories of deep pain. The FRRC gives them medical treatment, courage and training to start a new life and to return proudly to their communities as ambassadors and role models for those who have not got the opportunity to seek help.

Obstetric fistula, a hole in the vagina or rectum caused by labour that is prolonged without treatment, is one of the most serious injuries of childbearing. Early marriage, violence, female genital mutilation, malnutrition which is linked to underdevelopment of the female body and lack of education/illiteracy also put women at great risk for developing obstetric fistula.

Because the fistula leaves women leaking urine or faeces, or both, it typically results in social isolation, depression and deepening poverty.

Public Group on Gender > Women's human rights

Women's human rights

1. Description

Human rights are regarded as an integral element of all EU external action and dialogue with third countries. Adopting a rights-based approach to development means that individuals have equal rights – not just needs – to participate in and benefit from the development process.

Gender equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex are fundamental human rights, recognised by a number of international legal instruments and declarations and enshrined in most national constitutions. Most human rights instruments are ‘gender-neutral’ in that they guarantee that all citizens will be treated without discrimination by the State, but that guarantee alone is insufficient to address inequalities which already exist.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) moves beyond statements guaranteeing equality and sets out measures aimed at achieving substantive equality in all fields and across all sectors. CEDAW thus provides a universal framework for rights-based development.

2. Practical example of implementation

Promoting land and women rights in Red Sea State, Eastern Sudan

3. EU Policy documents on this issue

Briefing Note on Women's Human Rights

The Communication from the Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament on the European Union’s Role in  promoting human rights and democratization in third countries COM (2001) 252 final

4. Articles

Gender Equality reports examine situation of women in southern Mediterranean (October 2010)