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The background of gender mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming as a strategy was introduced in Sweden in the early 1990s. In a bill from 1994, the Government clarified the responsibility of the government agencies to implement the Government’s gender equality policy in their activities.7 Current
gender equality policy is set out in a bill from 2005, in which the overarching goal is to ”ensure that women and men have the same power to shape society and their own lives”.8 In addition, four subgoals were formulated:

• Equal distribution of power and influence. Women and men shall have the same rights and opportunities to be active citizens and to shape the conditions for decisionmaking.

• Economic equality between the sexes. Women and men shall have the same opportunities´and conditions with regard to education and paid work that provide them with the means to achieve lifelong economic independence.

• Equal distribution of unpaid care and household work. Women and men shall take the same responsibility for household work and have the same opportunities to give and receive care on equal terms.

• Men’s violence against women must stop. Women and men, girls and boys, shall have equal rights and opportunities in terms of physical integrity.9

International framework for gender equality

The documents, institutions, and activities of international organizations (in particular, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the European Union) have been crucial in the development of gender mainstreaming as a common strategy to combat inequality between women and men worldwide and hence of particular value to Swedish gender equality policy.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, affirms the rights of all people regardless of sex: ”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. . . . Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, property, birth or other status”.10 When the UN was created, a women’s commission was set up in order to identify, investigate, and develop international standards to combat discrimination against women. In 1952, the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, which in the 1950s and 1960s was followed by a series of conventions that specifically considered the rights of women. In 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted and Sweden was the first country to ratify it the following year.11


In 1975, the First UN World Conference on Women was held in Mexico.12 One outcome of the conference was the establishment of the UN Development Fund for Women as well as the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, with the purpose of promoting women’s participation. At the Fourth Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, a declaration and an action plan, known as the Beijing Platform, for gender equality at national, regional, and international levels were adopted. The action plan is morally binding for the 189 countries that adopted it. The action plan called for a dual approach in order to live up to the declaration’s commitments: on the one hand, through special efforts to eliminate gender discrimination and, on the other, by identifying gender mainstreaming as a common strategy to promote gender equality.

On 1 January 2011, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women was established, merging the different UN bodies into one single entity in order to accelerate the progress of the equality and empowerment of women worldwide.13

When it comes to Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950 explicitly states that discrimination on the grounds of sex is prohibited. The Additional Protocol of 2005 specifies this prohibition against sex discrimination by identifying the responsibility of the state authorities.14 The Council of Europe’s report on gender mainstreaming was published in 1998 and has become a key document within the field. Equality is hence defined by the Council of Europe as ”equal visibility, empowerment, responsibility and participation of both sexes in all spheres of public and private life”15, i.e. formulated as a goal. Gender mainstreaming, on the other hand, is the common strategy to achieve this goal and is defined as the ”(re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policymaking”.16 Regarding the EU context, already the EC Treaty concluded by the six founding countries in 1957 mentioned the right of men and women to equal pay for equal work. The Amsterdam Treaty, which entered into force in 1999, states that gender equality is one of the Union’s fundamental objectives and that all activities within the EU should aim to eliminate inequalities between men and women and promote gender equality. The Nice Treaty from 2003, the predecessor to the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, emphasizes that the Union should work towards eliminating inequalities and promoting equality between men and women within all its activities, i.e. gender mainstream all its work. Gender equality should, in particular, be considered in three main areas of EU legislation: employment, discrimination on the basis of sex in and outside the workplace, as well as people’s living and working conditions.17

Thirteen EU directives have been adopted so far on gender equality. These are legally binding and member states are therefore obliged to incorporate them into their national legislation. The European Commission, Council, Parliament, and Court of Justice (as well as civil society organizations, Women’s Lobby18, etc.) have also developed structures aiming to promote gender equality within the Union. One of the cornerstones has been the Commission’s roadmap for equality between women and men. In September 2010, the Commission presented its new five-year gender equality strategy. It states that gender equality is a very important factor in achieving sustainable economic growth and will therefore be vital for the implementation of the EU 2020 strategy as a whole. The strategy gives priority to a number of areas: equal economic independence for men and women, equal pay for equal work, equality in decision making, everyone’s right to privacy and dignity but also to promote the EU’s vision on gender equality outside the Union.19 A number of measures have been taken within the field of gender mainstreaming in particular. For instance, the EU employment strategy has highlighted the importance of gender statistics. The European Social Fund (ESF) is another example of how gender mainstreaming is expected to permeate all the projects and programmes the ESF supports in the member countries. There are a number of other areas of EU law that indirectly have implications for gender equality. One example is the procurement directive ensuring the possibility to take social aspects into consideration during the public procurement process. Social concern is a legal concept included in the Lisbon Treaty.
Gender equality is one of its several components.20

Swedish gender eqaulity policy

In addition to the government bill on gender equality policy and the commitment to gender mainstreaming through international conventions, Sweden has for a long time worked with expert groups, special committees, and national commissions in order
to improve the work on gender equality. Jämi had been instructed to capitalize and further build on this knowledge and experience of gender mainstreaming.

As from the financial year 1994/95, the county administrative boards were given greater responsibility to coordinate and develop gender equality within the regions. Special funds were allocated for county experts on gender issues. The instructions identify that the county administrative board should integrate a gender perspective into its activities by highlighting, assessing, and considering women’s, men’s, girls’, and boys’ conditions.
It should also consistently analyse and present gender disaggregated data, and, finally, integrate human rights into its work by highlighting, analysing, and considering human rights in relation to its activities.21

In 1997, a working group on method development for gender equality work was appointed. In 2001, its findings were presented in a final report together with a methodological
handbook. In parallel, a number of local and regional projects were conducted in order to promote gender equality in municipalities and counties.22 The implementation of gender mainstreaming in the public administration has been evaluated on a couple of occasions. In 2000, the Swedish National Audit Office examined how equality was expressed in the agencies’ directives and how it was reported back to the Government. One conclusion was that the goals set out in the appropriation directions23 from the Government were not clearly linked to the gender equality
objectives and that there was often a lack of requirements on how to apply gender mainstreaming. This resulted, inter alia, in the appointment of a steering group for gender mainstreaming within the government offices in 2002. The purpose was to come up with a plan for sustainable gender mainstreaming within the government offices and agencies. In practice, this meant gender equality training for all officials and the establishment of a gender equality coordinator. The project Jämna pengar (”Equal Money”) started the following year with the goal of strengthening the control over gender in the Government’s budgetary process, and, hence, the government budget.24

In 2004, the Swedish Agency for Public Management announced that there had been no major changes since the Swedish National Audit Office’s review in 2000. A gender policy commission was established in order to once again review Swedish gender equality policy. Based on the final report of the commission, the Swedish Parliament passed in 2006 an equality policy bill. Gender mainstreaming was identified as the main strategy for achieving the gender equality objectives, i.e. each ministry and each policy area are responsible for gender equality within its proper field and should formulate customized objectives to be reached; designate assignments to the agencies; and require follow-ups, reports, and evaluations on these objectives and assignments. All this should be done within the framework of regular activities and resources.25

In 2005, the Swedish Gender Mainstreaming Support Committee (JämStöd)26 was set up to assist with national gender mainstreaming, i.e. within government offices and agencies. Its mission consisted of reporting on the agencies’ responsibility for implementing the gender equality policy but also further developing methods and supporting the exchange of experiences. The committee developed both working models and methods that would have a major impact in Sweden and internationally. These were presented in a publication on methods for gender mainstreaming. In the final report, the committee noted, like the Swedish Agency for Public Management and several other EU countries, that a prerequisite for successful gender mainstreaming is the creation of support functions. This is the background for the creation of Jämi.27

Financial support for gender policy

On 1 January 2007, the Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality was established and EUR 40 million28 was annually allocated for specific gender equality measures for the next four years.29 The result of this budgetary increase was that Jämi30 operated alongside a wide range of other gender equality measures, activities, and projects.31 However, most of the resources allocated during the four-year period had been ear
marked for men’s violence against women (a total of EUR 100 million) and had involved a large number of actors.32

In addition to national measures for gender mainstreaming, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) received a total amount of EUR 14.5 million from 2008 to 2010 in order to strengthen the gender mainstreaming of municipal and regional services. SALAR has received a further EUR 22.5 million for the period 2011–2013.33

Apart from the national funding, the ESF has increased its financing of projects linked to gender mainstreaming. More precisely, it is mandatory for all ESF-financed projects to be gender mainstreamed. The Swedish ESF, in cooperation with the county administrative boards, provides support to the projects and is also responsible for analysing, evaluating, and disseminating the projects’ results.34


7 Govt. Bill 1993/94:147, Jämställdhetspolitiken: Delad makt – delat ansvar [Gender Equality Policy: Shared Power—Shared Responsibility] (only available in Swedish).
8 Govt. Bill 2005/06:155, Makt att forma samhället och sitt eget liv - nya mål i jämställdhetspolitiken [The Power to Shape Society and Your Own Life: Towards New Gender Equality Policy Objectives] (only available in Swedish).

9 http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/13/07/15/8a48ffb6.pdf
10 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
11 http://www.unwomen.org/
12 http://www.un.org/esa/gopher-data/conf/fwcw/conf/ngo/14135654.txt
13 http://www.unwomen.org/
14 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/equality/03themes/gender-mainstreaming/index_en.asp
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Beijing + 15: The Platform from Action and the European Union (2009), p. 7.
18 http://www.womenlobby.org/?lang=en
20 European Union Procurement Directives 2004/18/EG and 2004/17/EG; VHS Upphandling, Utredning om integrering av jämställdhet vid offentlig upphandling [Report on Gender Mainstreaming in Public
Procurement] (2009) (only available in Swedish).
21 § 5 of the County Administrative Board’s current ordinance SFS 2007: 825.
22 Ändrad ordning - Strategisk utveckling för jämställdhet [Changed Order: Strategic Development for Gender Equality] Ds. [Ministry Publications Series] 2001:64 (only available in Swedish); Gör det jämt: Integrera jämställdhet i verksamheten [Do It Equally: Integrating Gender Equality in Activities](2001) (only available in Swedish).
23 http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2979
24 Stöd för framtiden - om förutsättningar för jämställdhetsintegrering [Support for the Future: About the Conditions for Gender Mainstreaming], SOU 2007:15 (only available in Swedish); Makt att forma samhället och sitt eget liv jämställdhetspolitiken mot nya mål [Power to Shape Society and Your Own Life: Gender Policy towards New Objectives] SOU 2005:66 (only available in Swedish).
25 The Swedish Agency for Public Management, En effektivare jämställdhetspolitik [A More Effective Gender Equality Policy] (2005:1); Forskarrapporter till Jämställdhetspolitiska utredningen [Research Reports to the Inquiry on Gender Equality Policy] Govt. Bill 2005/06:155 (only available in Swedish).
26 http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/08/19/82/8efba817.pdf
27 Stöd för framtiden - om förutsättningar för jämställdhetsintegrering.
28 In order to make it easier for non-Swedish readers, amounts have been recalculated from Swedish Kroner (SEK) into Euros (EUR) according to the formula SEK 10 = EUR 1.
29 It must be borne in mind that since the mid-1980s the annual budgets for equality measures have been about EUR 3 million.
30 Jämi’s budget was approximately EUR 1.3 million over a two-year period.
31 For example, the instructions on gender equality for the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Nutek), the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova), Statistics Sweden (SCB), the Swedish Council for Strategic Human Resources Development (KRUS), the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (MSU), the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (HSV), the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS), and the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs (US).
32 Anita Nyberg, Mycket snack och lite verkstad? Jämställdhetspolitikens genomslag i statsbudgeten 1980-2012 [All Talk and No Action? The Impact of Gender Equality Policy on the Government Budget, 1980–2012] Jämi [Gender Mainstreaming Programme] 1:10 (only available in Swedish); Redovisning av den särskilda jämställdhetssatsningen [Reporting from the Specific Gender Measures] 2009/10:234 (only available in Swedish).
33 In addition, an annual amount of EUR 0.7 million is to be distributed through grants to organizations and activities aiming to promote gender equality.
34 http://www.esf.se/sv/Rotsida-for-topmeny/In-english/; http://www.temalikabehandling.se/ (only available in Swedish).

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