Legislative and policy framework

Paragraph 2 of Article 11 of the Constitution of Luxembourg guarantees gender equality: ‘Women and men are equal in rights and duties. The State seeks the active promotion of elimination of impediments which may exist in matters of equality between women and men.’

In fostering gender equality and gender mainstreaming, Luxembourg has closely followed United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) instruments, policies, and legislation. The transposition of EU directives has been the primary instrument to introduce gender equality into Luxembourg’s domestic legislation.

In addition to Luxembourg’s constitutional commitment to gender equality, sectoral laws on specific topics have been developed, although there is no overarching national law specifically on gender equality.

The gender equality strategy falls under the strategy called the ‘2018 Coalition agreement’ (Accord de coalition de 2018). It was designed by all three political parties and contains a chapter on equality between women and men. It covers the following issues: representation of women in decision-making; gender pay gap; addressing sexist stereotypes in the media; fighting domestic violence and violence against women.

The strategy is implemented through the ‘National action on gender equality plan’ (Plan d'action national pour une égalité entre les femmes et les hommes). Implementation is overseen by the Ministry of Equality of Women and Men (MEGA) (formerly the Ministry of Equal Opportunities) through the Inter-Ministerial Committee which is composed of representatives from each ministerial department. However, it has not been costed or budgeted for. The 2020 National action plan for Equality between women and men (NAP) contains 7 priorities, 48 ‘engagements’ and 99 concrete actions.

The National Action on Gender Equality Plan Priorities

  1. encouraging and supporting civic and political engagement
  2. combating stereotypes and sexism
  3. promoting equality in education
  4. advancing equality in the workplace
  5. promoting equality at the local level
  6. fighting domestic violence
  7. encouraging the development of a more equal society

The NAP aims to implement gender mainstreaming in all policy measures and strategies. The plan transposes the principles of the UN strategy ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.[1] In this regard, gender equality and gender mainstreaming as developed in the 2020 NAP are integrated throughout all ten action fields as determined in the national plan for sustainable development.[2]

In contrast with the previous NAPs for equality between women and men (2009-2014; 2014-2018), the 2020 NAP is not limited in terms of its duration. However, it will be evaluated and monitored every three years through various assessments as the NAP includes measurable targets. The plan is designed to evolve in line with political priorities, thus, it can be amended at any time. The evaluation reports, as well as any adaptations and modifications, are submitted to the Government Council, debated in the Chamber of Deputies, and made available to relevant actors and citizens.

Previous national actions were in place for 2007-2008, 2009-2014 and 2014-2018. The National Action Plan 2009-2014 was based on the priorities of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which created two significant drawbacks. Firstly, the priorities identified at the global level did not necessarily correspond to the challenges in Luxembourg; and, secondly, it limited the role of ministers, as they were not involved in defining objectives and policy measures. This was addressed in later NAPs. For example, regarding the NAP 2014–2018, each department was asked to identify between three and five specific goals for the coming years. The Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Equality of Women and Men then monitored these goals. In July 2018, 94 % of the measurements had been carried out or were underway.[3]


Governmental equality bodies

In Luxembourg, gender mainstreaming is supported by a strong institutional structure as the governmental body is a ministry – the Ministry of Equality between women and men (MEGA) (Ministère de l'égalité entre Femmes et Hommes), a responsibility set out in the Grand-Ducal Decree of 28 May 2019 (Memo A - 370 of 29 May 2019).[4] MEGA replaced the former Ministry of Equal Opportunities. The Ministry is composed of 16 employees in 2021.

The Ministry of Equality between women and men (MEGA) Functions

  • Oversees the coordination and implementation of government decisions on gender equality and monitors its progress
  • Drafting gender equality policy for the government
  • Monitors and coordinates gender mainstreaming processes and methodologies, including gender budgeting
  • Orders and runs research on gender equality issues
  • Publishes and disseminates gender-related information and training materials
  • Manages the integration of gender equality considerations in EU and international affairs involving Luxembourg
  • Reports annually on its activities to the parliament

Another relevant governmental entity is the Inter-ministerial Committee for Gender Equality. It is coordinated by MEGA, and its legal mandate is set out in the Coordinated Text of 6 March 2006 of the Modified Grand-Ducal Regulation of 31 March 1996. It is the coordination body for the monitoring and implementation of gender mainstreaming actions across ministries.[5] The Committee is a space for ministry representatives to exchange and discuss examples of good practices of gender mainstreaming initiatives. The Grand-Ducal Regulation of 15 December 2016[6] strengthened the Inter-ministerial Committee by affirming its key role as an intermediary between MEGA and the other ministries, and by adding provisions on its internal committee for cooperation between professionals in the field of violence prevention.

In addition, under Grand-Ducal Regulation of 5 March 2004, there are ‘equality delegates’ (délégués à l'égalité) in administrations and ministries, whose mission is to improve equality between women and men civil servants. They are appointed by the relevant minister for a five-year term. Their tasks include raising awareness of gender equality issues among staff and putting forward proposals to improve equal treatment and prevent sexual harassment. The delegates are coordinated by MEGA and in 2020 had 120 delegates.[7]

Apart from the Inter-Ministerial Committee, departments or ministries do not consult MEGA about new bills. Instead, ministries must fill in an impact note which assesses a proposed bill based on various criteria, among which is equality between women and men.

Independent equality body

The Centre for Equal Treatment (Le Centre pour l’Égalité de traitement) (CET) is Luxembourg’s gender equality body. It was created by the Law of 28 November 2006.[8]

The CET works on six grounds of discrimination: ethnic background, sex, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation. The centre does not represent victims of discrimination but can provide legal support concerning discrimination on the grounds of sex or gender. This support includes an advisory and orientation service to inform people of their rights, the legislation, case law and the means to ensure their rights are upheld. The CET can publish reports, issue opinions and recommendations, and carry out studies touching on all matters relating to discrimination. To do this, the Centre uses specific tools such as the ‘discrimination barometer,’ which is a study conducted every four years to assess people’s perception of the different grounds of discrimination and their knowledge of the CET and its actions. Moreover, the CET coordinates and implements both gender mainstreaming processes (including gender budgeting), and gender-related anti-discrimination policies, such as the regular verification of job offers published in the newspapers to assess gender inclusivity. The Centre also monitors overall progress in achieving gender equality.

The CET also provides a consultative opinion on draft legislation when requested by ministries, the Chamber of Deputies, as well as individuals. For this, the CET drafts an official document that is sent to the relevant ministry, which is then sent to the Chamber of Deputies for them to consider before voting on the legislation.

The CET is composed of three employees. As the CET covers six different discrimination grounds, no employee specifically tackles gender equality. Two employees oversee the reception and selection of individual complaints. The Head of the Centre verifies the selected complaints and submits them to a panel. The panel is composed of five members who are selected through an application process and elected by Members of Parliament. Members of the panel are not paid for this work.

Parliamentary body

Within the Chamber of Deputies, the Commission of Health, Equal Opportunities, and Sports (Commission de la Santé, de l’Égalité des chances et des Sports) oversaw gender equality. Since 2019 and the change from the Ministry of Equal Opportunities to MEGA, the responsibility has rested with the Committee on Home Affairs and Equality between Women and Men (Commission des affaires intérieures et de l’égalité des femmes et des hommes). Like all Parliamentary Committees, the Committee is primarily responsible for reviewing bills, amendments, and motions issued by the President of the House. It also has the right to submit proposals and changes itself, as well as the right to prepare debates and organise hearings.

Consultation with civil society

MEGA constantly seeks collaboration with, and the participation of, civil society organisations. For example, non-governmental organisations, and civil society organisations were consulted ahead of the drafting process of the 2020 NAP. They are systematically invited to contribute to different initiatives and consultation events. Civil society organisations are invited to contribute to drafting legislation.

Through the Committee on Women's Labour, a government advisory body created by the Grand-Ducal Regulation of 27 November 1984, representatives of civil society organisations, along with labour union representatives and government officials, can propose concrete measures to improve the situation of women in the workforce. The Committee studies all matters related to the activity, training, and professional advancement of women, either on its own initiative or at the request of the government. NGOs can also be consulted as partners on projects.

Methods and tools

]9Note: the methods and tools listed under this section were the focus of EIGE's 2021 assessment. If certain methods and tools are not mentioned in this section, this does not necessarily mean that they are not used at all by Luxembourg.

Gender impact assessment and gender budgeting

Certain gender mainstreaming methods are either rarely used or not used at all by the government. Indeed, there is no legal obligation to carry out gender impact assessments when drafting laws or policies. However, ministries are strongly encouraged to do so. The government is not legally obliged to undertake gender-sensitive budgeting for ministerial or the budget of governmental institutions and it does not use this as a tool to mainstream gender considerations.

Training and awareness-raising

A core tool for implementing gender mainstreaming is training. The 2020 NAP establishes awareness-raising through training as a pillar of the Ministry’s gender mainstreaming policy: measure number 7.5 of the NAP is called ‘Supporting Equality policies through trainings [training sessions].’ In 2011, mandatory training on gender equality was introduced for trainee officers of the State and municipalities but not for those already employed.[9] The training session aimed to educate future public administration officials on gender equality considering their role as key players in implementing the gender mainstreaming strategy. Currently, gender equality training is available for all staff (not only new staff). Since 2014, training sessions have also been offered as part of the continuing education for equality delegates. MEGA also organises information or training sessions on specific topics regarding the equality of women and men on request.

Initiatives on gender-sensitive language have recently been launched. In 2022, guidelines on gender-neutral language will be published. However, there will not be any legal obligation for ministries to adopt them.

Gender statistics

The national statistical office in Luxembourg is the Statistical Office of Luxembourg (STATEC). It collects and publishes some data disaggregated by sex although there is no legal obligation to do so and there is no specific department, team, or experts responsible for sex-disaggregated data. Most sex-disaggregated data is published as part of the general data on the labour market and population. Moreover, because of the Ministry's work on raising awareness and encouraging institutions to use data disaggregated by sex, the use of this tool is becoming common practice among national institutions. The police force, for example, collects data disaggregated by sex in the context of violence against women, as does the judiciary.

Publication of data includes an annual report by MEGA called ‘the Committee for cooperation between professionals in the field of Violence Prevention’[10] which includes sex-disaggregated data.

More recently, the Ministry of Culture and Communication has set up a Gender Equality Observatory (L’Obstervatoire de l'égalité). [11] The Observatory will collect and report on data on gender equality in seven sectors aligned with EIGE's Gender Equality Index. As such, it will cover the topics of intimate-partner violence, employment, decision-making, education, financial resources, health, and work-life balance. The official website, still in development, will be completed in late 2022 or 2023. As the team is building the Observatory, they are progressively developing each section, focusing on two specific sectors per year. 2021 was dedicated to populating sections on domestic violence and employment. Decision-making and work-life balance started to be populated in 2021 and will be completed on the website in 2022. This data collection is the result of a cooperation agreement with GOPA, a public policy consulting partner[12] which will set up a regularly updated database with data disaggregated by sex.

Monitoring progress

Indicators for monitoring progress on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the EU, under Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action

This section analyses the scores achieved by Luxembourg for data collection in 2021 for the four officially agreed-on indicators on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming, and to monitor progress on Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action. It also analyses scores under an expanded measurement framework which includes the role of independent gender equality bodies and assesses the effectiveness of efforts to disseminate statistics disaggregated by sex. Institutional mechanisms refer to national machineries that implement, monitor, evaluate, and mobilise support for policies that promote gender equality and gender mainstreaming. All indicators and sub-indicators are available on the Gender Statistics Database here, including metadata about how the scores are calculated.

For Indicator H1 on the status of commitment to the promotion of gender equality and considering only the governmental commitment in line with the officially adopted indicator, Luxembourg scored 10.5 out of a possible 12, above the EU average of 7.2. It scored particularly high on sub-indicator H1e on accountability of the governmental gender equality body where it scored 4.0 points out of a maximum possible score of 5 because there is a national action plan in place with specific targets and regular monitoring. It also scored uniquely high on sub-indicator H1c on the highest responsibility for promoting gender equality within government (it was one of only two Member States, along with Spain, to score the maximum of 2 points) because its government gender equality body is a ministry and therefore has high visibility and power within the government.

Under an expanded measurement framework, which includes sub-indicator H1f on the mandate and functions of the independent gender equality body, Luxembourg scored an additional 2.0 points, out of a possible 3. It lost 1.0 point because the mandate of the independent gender equality body is gender equality combined with other non-discrimination areas, rather than exclusively focused on gender equality. The overall score for the expanded H1 indicator was 12.5 out of a possible 15, above the EU average of 9.1. Luxembourg was the highest scoring Member state, along with Finland and Spain.

Indicator H2 analyses the personnel resources of the national gender equality bodies. For sub-indicator H2a, regarding the governmental body, Luxembourg scored 1.0 points, out of the possible 2, which was the same as the EU average, because there were 10-25 employees working on gender equality in the governmental body. For sub-indicator H2b, regarding the independent body, Luxembourg’s score was 0.0, against an EU average of 0.8, because there were only 0-5 people employed to work on gender equality in the independent body. For both sub-indicators, the maximum 2 points was awarded where the number of employees was over 100 as an indication of the body being sufficiently resourced.

Indicator H3 relates to gender mainstreaming. Here, Luxembourg scored 4.5 out of a possible 12, which was below the EU average of 5.1. Luxembourg lost 4.0 points, out of the maximum possible score of 6, on sub-indicator H3c on the commitment to and use of methods and tools for gender mainstreaming, in part because there is no legal obligation to undertake an ex-ante gender impact assessment and gender budgeting is practically an unknown concept.

Under an expanded measurement framework, which includes sub-indicator H3d on consultation of the independent equality body, Luxembourg scored 4.5 points out of a maximum of 14, which was lower than the EU average which increased to 5.4. Under sub-indicator H3d, Luxembourg lost both available points because the independent gender equality body is only consulted by departments or ministries on the gender impact of new or existing policies, law, or programmes in a few cases.

For Indicator H4 on the production and dissemination of statistics disaggregated by sex, Luxembourg scored 3.7 points, just above the EU average of 3.4. It scored 0.5 points out of 2 for sub-indicator H4a on government commitment to the production of statistics disaggregated by sex, because there is only a policy agreement to collect data disaggregated by sex on an ad hoc basis, rather than a legal obligation.