Since 1994, Article 3 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany – the German constitution – stipulates the principle of equal rights for women and men, and obliges the German state to promote gender equality and to tackle existing inequalities.
Over the years, European Union (EU) policymaking has had a strong influence on the institutionalisation of gender-equality policies in Germany, and EU initiatives on gender mainstreaming have stimulated debate about respective instruments and institutional mechanisms.
Germany’s main law implementing EU anti-discrimination law is the General Act on Equal Treatment (2006). This act focuses on discrimination in employment and established the Federal Anti‑Discrimination Agency.
In a Cabinet resolution of 23 June 1999, the federal government recognised that the aim of gender equality, as stipulated in the German constitution, is a guiding principle for its activities, and adopted gender mainstreaming as the joint strategy of all federal ministries. To support the implementation of this strategy, an interministerial working group on gender mainstreaming was in place between 2000 and 2005. In 1999, the government’s ‘Modern State – Modern Administration’ programme was launched, and adopted gender mainstreaming as one of the guiding principles for the reform of the administration.
The establishment of gender mainstreaming as a duty for the ministries in the revised Common Rules of Procedure of the Federal Ministries (2000) was a significant step for the implementation of gender mainstreaming.