Legislative and policy framework

The Romanian Constitution enshrines gender equality at work and in the labour market. It establishes equal opportunities for women and men in accessing public, civil or military jobs (Article 16(3)) and equal pay (Article 41(4)). During the process of accession to the European Union (EU), and particularly in the pre-accession years, the pace of implementation of gender mainstreaming was intensified and received special attention from the government.

In 2002, the parliament adopted Law 202/2002 on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men, which specifically focused on gender equality (the Gender Equality Law).[1] Among other measures, the law provides for positive action promoting gender equality as ‘special actions that are adopted temporarily to accelerate the realisation in practice of equal opportunities between women and men’ (Article 4(e)). However, those actions are only admitted where they are ‘aimed at protecting certain categories of women or men, and not women as a group in comparison with men’ (Article 6(5)(b)). The Gender Equality Law thus regulates not only equal access to employment but also to services and goods. Article 4(k) of the law was further amended and supplemented by a provision on gender budgeting, as defined in Law 229/2015.[2]

Recently, a Government Decision approved the 2018-2021 National Strategy for the Promotion of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Women and Men. The Strategy has three general objectives (promoting universal access of girls and women to sexual and reproductive health; reconciliation of professional life with family and private life; encouraging women’s participation in decision-making processes) and five domains of intervention (education, health, the labour market, balanced participation in decision-making processes, and gender mainstreaming).

It includes the following activities to introduce a gender mainstreaming perspective into national policy:

  • Develop a unified methodology for gender mainstreaming of national policies and programmes;
  • Create a national network of experts in the area of equal opportunities;
  • Increase NGOs’ capacities to promote and contribute to alternative solutions in gender budgeting.

In March 2021, the National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men (Agenţia Naţionala pentru Egalitatea de Şanse între Femei şi Bărbaţi - NAEO) presented a new strategic policy document, the National Strategy for promoting equal opportunities between women and men and preventing domestic violence 2021-2027, and the Plan of Actions for implementing the Strategy in 2021-2027. By December 2021, though the documents were subject to public consultation, they had yet to be adopted.

The Strategy is implemented through the Action Plan for the National Strategy for promoting equal opportunities and treatment between women and men and for preventing and combating domestic violence 2018-2021 (Planul operațional de acțiuni pentru implementarea Strategiei naționale privind promovarea egalității de șanse și de tratament între femei și bărbați și prevenirea și combaterii violenței domestice pentru perioada 2018-2021).[3] The Action Plan covers each of the five domains of intervention, as set out above, and includes 8 objectives and 32 targets, which are measured by 75 qualitative indicators.


Governmental equality bodies

The National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men (NAEO), established in 2002, is the governmental body responsible for the promotion of gender equality. It is a permanent government body and a special public central administration body and, is subordinate to the Ministry under which it sits but functions as a separate unit. The NAEO was under the Ministry of Labour, until 25 November 2021 when it changed to the Ministry of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities.

A State Secretary (a junior minister) heads the NAEO. Its current four-year mandate is not combined with other equality-related mandates, and it does not deal with other policy fields. Government Decision 177/2016 provides the NAEO’s legal basis on the organisation and functioning of the NAEO.[4]

However, the status of the NAEO has been threatened. Its activity was suspended, and its responsibility downgraded to a directorate between 2010 and 2015, during and due to the economic crisis. When the Ciuca Government came to power in November 2021, it was not clear if the NAEO would be transformed from an agency into a ministerial department.

Article 3(1) of Government Decision 177/2016 states that the NAEO exerts a function of authority that ‘ensures the active and visible integration of a gender perspective in all national policies and programmes.’[5] However, this provision to implement gender mainstreaming is not enforced by any sanctions mechanism.

The National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men Functions

  • Developing and applying government strategy and policy in the area of equal opportunities between women and men
  • Ensuring the harmonisation of national legislation with EU regulations in the area of equal opportunities between women and men, and fighting domestic violence
  • Developing the legal framework following international conventions and treaties
  • Representing the Romanian State in the area of gender equality
  • Ensuring the integration of a gender perspective in all national policies and programmes and controlling implementation and compliance with regulations within its area of responsibility

In 2021, according to its annually published report, the NAEO’s core activities included implementing the relevant action plans and developing an emergency helpline for victims of domestic violence. It also prepared for the first visit of the Monitoring Mechanisms of the Istanbul Convention (GREVIO) and an official visit from the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls within the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.[6] In 2021, the NAEO had 41 employees.

The National Commission for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men (Comisia naţională în domeniul egalităţii de şanse între femei şi bărbaţi - CONES) is an inter-ministerial body that functions under the coordination of the ANES’ State Secretary. Created in 1999 to promote the gender dimension of employment strategies, the organisation and functioning of CONES are regulated by Government Decision 933/2013.[7] In 2021, until the formation of the new government on 25 November 2021, CONES comprised 44 members, 32 of which represented ministries - all ministries are represented in this regard -, with the remaining 12 members representing other subordinated institutions of the central administration. CONES meets twice per year to coordinate the various initiatives in the area of gender equality at the governmental level and to report on measures taken by different ministries to promote gender equality.

Independent equality body

The National Council for Combating Discrimination (Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminarii - CNCD) is the independent equality body in charge of promoting equal treatment of all persons and ensuring there is no discrimination on the grounds of sex. The legal basis for the existence of the CNCD is provided by Government Decision No. 1194/2001 on the organisation and function of the CNCD, with subsequent modifications and completions carried out. Several other pieces of legislation also regulate areas that fall under its remit.[8] The CNCD’s objectives and areas of intervention for current and future activity are established in the National Strategy ‘Equality, inclusion and diversity for the period 2018-2022.’[9]

The Council has responsibilities vis-à-vis the prevention, mediation, investigation and sanctioning of discriminatory actions. Its litigation and decision-making competences include legally binding decisions, legal standing to take cases on its initiative, providing legal advice and assistance to alleged victims of discrimination, and awarding dissuasive sanctions (civil fines).

The CNCD guarantees compliance and application of the principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, social status, beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, and non-contagious chronic diseases, HIV status, and belonging to a disadvantaged group.

The National Council for Combating Discrimination Functions

  • proposes draft legal acts within its area of competence
  • endorses draft acts on the exercise of rights, freedoms, and non-discrimination
  • collaborates with the public authorities to amend national legislation in line with international non-discrimination regulations
  • enforces and ensures compliance with legal provisions on the prevention and elimination of all forms of discrimination by public authorities, legal entities, and persons
  • develops and establishes policies to prevent discriminatory acts
  • develops and implements national programmes and campaigns to prevent and combat discrimination

In 2021, the CNCD had 68 employees who spent around a quarter of their time specifically on gender equality issues, consistent with the wide remit of the body. Only in some cases, do departments and ministries consult the CNCD about new or existing policies, laws, or programmes (in policy fields other than gender equality) which, leads to relevant adjustments in only some cases (25-50 %).

Parliamentary body

Although there is no representative elected body for gender equality, a permanent Commission for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men, located in the Chamber of Deputies, is in place. The Senate’s Commission addresses equal opportunities in general, along with human rights, religions, and minorities.[10]

The NAEO reports annually to parliament. Once a year, the permanent parliamentary committees within the Romanian Parliament with mandates in the area of equality between women and men come together in a joint session during which the head of the NAEO presents its activity report, budgetary execution, achievements, challenges and plans for the future.

Regional structure

Each county has a local government body, the County Commission for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men (Comisia judeţeană în domeniul egalităţii de şanse între femei şi bărbaţi - COJES). The 40 COJES, as well as the Bucharest Municipality (COJE), are composed of representatives of local public administration, entities subordinate to the local public administration, trade unions and local NGOs. There is no legal provision indicating a specific County Commission's position in the local government. The COJES have a consultative and informative role. They regularly collect and submit data in the area of equal opportunities, which are then transmitted to the CONES. The composition and function of the COJES are stipulated by law.

The County Commissions for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men Functions

  • promoting the integration of the equal opportunity principle to eliminate gender inequality and gender discrimination
  • including the principle of equal opportunity between women and men in the implementation of national and local policy
  • evaluating the implementation of equal opportunity policy at the local level
  • making recommendations to local authorities in the field of gender equality
  • reporting on the implementation of gender equality legislation and policy

Consultation with civil society

Consultation with civil society primarily takes place in an ad-hoc manner and is led by the NAEO. A key channel of this consultation process is through partnerships on projects funded by the European Structural Fund.

Methods and tools

Note: 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 Romania.

The use of methods and tools applied to achieve gender mainstreaming in Romania are restricted due to the limited budget and decision-making power of NAEO.

Gender impact assessment and gender budgeting

There is no legal obligation to undertake an ex-ante gender impact assessment when drafting laws or policies and gender budgeting is in its foundational stages. While gender budgeting is defined in the amended Gender Equality Law 2002, there is no obligation to implement it. Moreover, there is also a project called ‘Gender Budgeting in Public Policies’ (Bugetarea pe baza de Gen In Politicile Publice) which is one of the first attempts to introduce the concept of gender budgeting. However, the project only operates at the regional level in several counties and targets non-governmental organisations, not regional authorities.

Training and awareness-raising

Some government employees, including employees of the governmental body for gender equality, received gender equality training on an ad-hoc and voluntary basis.

Gender statistics

In Romania, there is a legal obligation for the National Institute of Statistics to collect and disaggregate data by sex. Law No. 202 of 19 April 2002 on equal treatment and equality of opportunities between women and men, Article 27(2) states, ‘The National Institute of Statistics introduces sex disaggregation in all documents and works on economic, social, political and cultural life and periodically publish[es] statistical data, disaggregated by sex, on the condition of women and men living in Romania.’

Moreover, Government Decision No. 177 from 2016 includes an obligation on the NAEO to analyse such data under Article 4(d) which calls for ‘reports, studies, analyses and forecasts regarding the application of the principle of equal opportunities and treatment between women and men, in all fields of activity.’

The National Institute of Statistics does not have a specific section of its website dedicated to gender statistics. However, it disseminates sex-disaggregated data at the national level in its annual Statistical Yearbook (Anuarul Statistic) on the population, labour market participation by economic sector and occupation, earnings, levels of education and enrolment in education. More specifically, it publishes a comprehensive publication entitled ‘Women and Men in Romania,’[11] both in Romanian and English, every second year. This publication is available on its website. The NAEO also publishes sex-disaggregated data in its Annual Monitoring Reports and other reports on different topics.

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 Romania for data collection in 2021 for the four officially agreed-on indicators on institutional mechanisms for the promotion of gender equality and gender mainstreaming 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 taking into account only the governmental commitment in line with the officially adopted indicator, Romania scored 8.0 points out of a possible 12, above the EU average of 7.2. It scored a maximum of 3.0 points on the sub-indicator H1d on the scope and functions of the governmental gender equality body, because its mandate focuses exclusively on gender equality. However, it lost all 2 points on sub-indicator H1c on the position of gender equality within the government structure because Romania’s governmental body is an agency, which means it has limited visibility and power.

Under an expanded measurement framework, which includes sub-indicator H1f on the mandate and functions of the independent gender equality body, Romania 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 10.0 points out of a possible 15, above the EU average of 9.1.

Indicator H2 analyses the personnel resources of the national gender equality bodies. For sub-indicator H2a, regarding the governmental body, Romania scored 1.5 points out of the 2 available, which was higher than the EU average of 1.0, because there were 25-100 employees working on gender equality in the governmental body. For sub-indicator H2b, regarding the independent body, Romania’s score was 1.0, while the EU average was slightly lower at 0.8 because there were 10-25 employees in the independent body working on gender equality. 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, Romania scored 3.8 out of a maximum possible 12, which was below the EU average of 5.1. Romania lost 5.7 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, because, in part, there is no legal obligation to undertake an ex-ante gender impact assessment or gender budgeting.

Under an expanded measurement framework, which includes sub-indicator H3d on consultation of the independent equality body, Romania scored 3.8 points out of a maximum of 14, which was also lower than the EU average, which increased to 5.4. Under this sub-indicator Romania 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 in some cases, and those consultations, similarly, only lead to relevant adjustments in some cases.

For Indicator H4 on the production and dissemination of statistics disaggregated by sex, Romania scored 3.0 points, out of 6 points, just below the EU average of 3.4. It scored the maximum of 2 points for sub-indicator H4a on government commitment to the production of statistics disaggregated by sex because there is a legal obligation for the national statistical office to collect data disaggregated by sex. It lost 3.0 points, out of a possible 4, for sub-indicator H4c on the effectiveness of efforts to disseminate statistics disaggregated by sex, as there is no website or section of a website devoted to gender statistics which hinders dissemination.