What is gender mainstreaming?

It is the concept of introducing gender equality to the mainstream of policy. Gender mainstreaming was defined as the global strategy for promoting gender equality in the Platform for Action adopted at the 4th UN World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, in 1995. It emphasized that it was necessary to ensure the presence of gender equality as a main objective in all areas of social and economic development.

In June 1997, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) defined gender mainstreaming as follows:

“Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated.”[1] Gender mainstreaming encompasses activities benefiting every sex, as well as affirmative actions, undertaken when men or women are in particularly difficult situation. Interventions of this type may be targeted only to women or only to men, but also to both women and men, to provide them with equal participation in benefits resulting from development. These are necessary, temporary measures aimed to fight direct and indirect results of discrimination, also that which took place in the past.

Mainstreaming the gender equality perspective may lead to changes in objectives, strategies and activities, so that both women and men can influence the development processes, participate in them and benefit from their outcomes. The goal of taking gender equality into account is then to transform unequal social and institutional structures into structures that would be equal and just for both men and women.

 What does women’s empowerment mean?

Women’s empowerment means that women are really aware of their rights and have the inner power to defend and use them. The key concept in women’s empowerment is their increased self-esteem and faith in oneself, as well as increasing their ability to be their own leaders and shape personal and social relations. Practically, women’s empowerment means broader access to economical, legal, social and political resources, enabling them to express and fulfill their needs, as well as achieve personal fulfillment.[2]

 Why should gender analysis of poverty be conducted?

Gender analysis of poverty means explaining the reasons and consequences of existing inequalities between sexes, as well as different needs, priorities and experience of women and men. The objective of such analysis is to include its conclusions in the planned project, so that it may have positive influence on both sexes and diminish the existing disproportions. The analysis is based on qualitative and quantitative data and should be conducted before planning the project.[3]


 [1] International Labour Organisation http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/gender/newsite2002/about/defin.htm

[2] Definition proposed by the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning http://www.federa.org.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=382:wspoodpowiedzialno-mczyzn-za-ycie-seksualne-i-prokreacj&catid=80:materiay-informacyjne&Itemid=74

[3] Gender Mainstreaming in development cooperation, Pracital Toolkit. Open Society, pb.cProEquality Center, July 2010, p.4