The introduction of the idea of gender mainstreaming in Denmark has been influenced by the European Union (EU) and, in particular, by the Amsterdam Treaty, which came into force in 1999. The following year, gender mainstreaming was introduced into Danish national legislation through the Gender Equality Act, which states that that ‘Public authorities shall within their respective areas of responsibility seek to promote gender equality and incorporate gender equality in all planning and administration’. Since 2001, gender mainstreaming has been implemented through the Gender Mainstreaming Steering Committee (with representatives at the executive level from all ministries, it existed from 2001 to 2013), an Interministerial Network (with representatives at the staff level from all ministries), and the adoption of a number of four-year action plans on gender mainstreaming. Though the process leading up to the announcement of a new strategy on gender mainstreaming was lengthy, in February 2013 the National Strategy for Future Work with Gender Mainstreaming Assessment in the Public Sector was published, ensuring that all political initiatives, including all relevant acts, are assessed to secure gender equality.
To some extent these recent efforts to advance gender mainstreaming at the state and local levels have been boosted by EU funding, notably through the participation of the Department of Gender Equality in a European Commission (EC) project on the development of gender-mainstreaming tools and practices in central government administration, with a specific focus on web-based tools and methods.
There is a special focus on gender mainstreaming in Denmark, with the Minister for Gender Equality taking the lead, and the Department for Gender Equality acting as a secretariat for the minister. From 2001 to 2013, the Minister for Gender Equality was supported by the Gender Mainstreaming Steering Committee, which consisted of high-level representatives from all ministries. In addition, an Interministerial Network on Gender Mainstreaming, comprising all ministerial employees responsible for or co-ordinating gender-mainstreaming work, acts as a professional forum where employees can gain knowledge and exchange experiences.
Furthermore, Denmark has a national equality body – the Danish Institute for Human Rights – which deals with equal treatment in the areas of race, ethnicity and, since 2011, gender.
Laws and policies
Over the years, efforts to promote gender mainstreaming have been formalised in important policy documents. Foremost among these are the National Gender Mainstreaming Action Plans, which provide for how and when Danish ministries must incorporate and implement initiatives to promote gender mainstreaming; the National Gender Mainstreaming Strategy (adopted by the former Government in 2013), whose goal was to strengthen targeted gender impact assessments in public administration and planning, in order to make best use of public resources, increase the quality of legislative proposals, services and campaigns, and promote diversity/gender equality; and finally, the annual national Gender Equality Action Plans (particularly the one issued in 2012, which explicitly addresses gender mainstreaming as a priority).
Methods and tools
A variety of methods are being deployed. Some provisions are in place to encourage the take-up of gender mainstreaming, such as gender impact assessments of legislative proposals, mandatory sex-disaggregated statistics in selected areas, the submission of annual monitoring reports from each ministry to the Minister for Gender Equality. In addition, the central administration, regions and municipalities are obliged to submit gender-equality assessments reports every other year. There is a particularly strong focus on applying gender impact assessments to law proposals: along with a new strategy, a tools-based website was launched and a guidance note on how to carry out gender impact assessments in the public sector was published.