The information on this page was last updated in December 2023. The information was gathered during EIGE’s 2021 data collection on Institutional Mechanisms for the Promotion of Gender Equality and Gender Mainstreaming, under Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action. Data was collected using a revised methodological framework. No data is available for France (FR) and Ireland (IE) as no response was received from the relevant authorities. Data for other Member States, as well as data for France and Ireland from previous collections, is available in the Gender Statistics Database.

Governmental gender equality bodies

The purpose of a governmental gender equality body is to design, coordinate and implement government policies for gender equality. It is normally located in the government hierarchy. The existence and permanence of such a structure is a major indicator of governmental responsibility in promoting gender equality. The governmental gender equality body should be located at the highest possible level of government, and the responsibility for promoting gender equality policies should also be vested at the highest possible level (e.g. cabinet minister).

Legal framework for gender equality at national level

Equality and non-discrimination between women and men are founding values of the European Union (EU), as expressed in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. EU legislation on gender equality is legally binding in all Member States.

Almost all Member States have legislation to foster gender equality, whether a comprehensive law focusing exclusively on gender equality, or a set of laws integrating the issue of gender equality and non-discrimination between women and men into different sectors.

Legal framework for gender equality
Country National gender equality legislation
  • Gender Act (2007)
  • General Anti-Discrimination Federal Act (2007)
  • Law on Equality between Women and Men (2016)
  • Anti-discrimination Act (2009)
  • Act on Gender Equality (introduced in 2000, amended in 2006, 2009, 2013)
  • Article 3(2) of the Foundational Law (1949)
  • Federal Law on Pay Transparency
  • Gender Equality Act (2004)
  • Equal Treatment Act (2009)
Ireland No data available
  • Law on Substantive Gender Equality (2019)
  • Organic Law 3/2007 on effective equality between women and men (‘the Equality Law’)
France No data available
  • Gender Equality Act (introduced in 2008, amended in 2017)
  • National Code of Equal Opportunities between Women and Men 
  • No overall national law on gender equality but sectoral laws on specific aspects of gender equality 
  • Social Protection and Labour Market Policy Guidelines 2021-2027
  • Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (1998)
  • Law on Equal Treatment (2003)
  • Paragraph 2 of Article 11 of the Constitution of Luxembourg, No overarching law on gender equality but sectoral laws on specific topics 
  • No targeted law on gender equality in Hungary, but gender is listed as one of several grounds on which negative discrimination is prohibited by Act CXXV of 2003 on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunities
  • Equality for Men and Women Act (2003)
  • Equal Pay Act (1975)
  • Equal Treatment Act for Men and Women (introduced in 1980, amended in 1989, 1994, 1998 and 2006) 
  • Equal Treatment Act (1979)
  • Article 7 of the Federal Constitutional Law 
  • Act of 3 December 2010 on the implementation of certain European Union regulations regarding equal treatment (the Act of 2010)
  • No overarching law exclusively focused on gender equality but a range of laws that cover different aspects of gender equality and non-discrimination 
  • Law 202/2002 on Equal Opportunities between Women and Men
  • Equal Opportunities for Women and Men Act (2002)
  • Act 365/2004, the 'Anti-Discrimination Act'
  • 1995 Act 
  • Discrimination Act (2008)

Legal and policy framework for gender mainstreaming at the national level

Successful implementation of a gender mainstreaming strategy requires well-formulated objectives and targets, embedded in a supportive legal and political framework, as well as a clear implementation strategy/plan.

Structures for gender mainstreaming at the ministerial level

Effective implementation of gender mainstreaming requires dedicated governmental structures to oversee and coordinate human resources and processes to generate change. Such structures might be units/departments/working groups dedicated to gender mainstreaming within each ministry, gender focal points in ministries (i.e. contact points for gender mainstreaming), and/or an inter‑ministerial group (i.e. a coordinating body or a network of contact points).

The existence of a governmental structure dedicated to gender mainstreaming is crucial to ensuring its effective coordination across government.

Twenty Member States have some form of structure in place (BE, BG, CZ, DK, DE, EE, EL, ES, HR, CY, LT, LU, MT, AT, PT, RO, SI, SK, FI, SE). Fifteen of those (BE, CZ, DK, EL, ES, CY, LT, LU, AT, PT, RO, SI, SK, FI, SE) have an interdepartmental structure with dedicated focal points to bring together different departments and ensure that gender equality concerns are integrated into laws and policies across all areas. Some focus on federal-level planning and guidance, others adopt a multilevel approach that allows them to deliver work nationally, regionally and locally (e.g. PT), while others target specific areas of gender equality (e.g. SK). The structure is typically led by a ministry (e.g. AT), or a governmental body (e.g. BE). In several Member States (BE, LU, RO), those structures have a representative (or two) in each ministry, while others (ES, PT, FI) have a working group in each ministry. Five Member States (BG, DE, EE, HR, MT) have less stringent structures in place, without strong central coordination (in DE, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is responsible for gender mainstreaming and is involved in legislative or consultative processes on gender mainstreaming on an ad hoc basis). Three Member States (IT, LV, NL) do not have a structure to coordinate gender mainstreaming efforts across government.

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Other structures

Addressing discrimination based on sex and promoting equal treatment between women and men are tasks assigned to specific bodies in all 27 Member States. These independent bodies complement the work of governmental gender equality bodies by virtue of their mandate to prevent the violation of rights and to offer legal protection.

Regional structures

The advancement of gender equality is not undertaken solely at national level. Fifteen Member States (BE, BG, DK, DE, EL, ES, HR, IT, LT, AT, PL, PT, RO, SI, SE) have regional structures to facilitate the promotion of gender equality at regional or local level.

In some countries (AT, DE), provincial/regional parliaments engage in developing and implementing regional policy on gender equality.

Legal obligations in certain Member States (BG, DK, EL, HR, IT, PT) mandate the participation of regional/local authorities in advancing the gender equality agenda:

  • In Bulgaria, the Law on Equality between Women and Men involves both the central and territorial bodies of the executive power in coordinating and implementing measures related to equality between women and men.
  • In Denmark, municipalities/regions are required to report the state of play on gender equality among municipal and regional employees, at least every two years, to the Minister for Gender Equality.
  • In Greece, Law 4604/2019 provides for the establishment of an Equality Office of the Association of Greek Regions and Regional Committees for Gender Equality in all 13 regions. Article 8 of Law 4604 mandates that independent offices for gender equality are to be established in the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece.
  • In Italy, according to Law No 53/2000, local authorities are responsible for their citizens’ quality of life and have a specific mandate to design positive action plans to reduce gender inequality, through the role of the regional adviser.
  • In Belgium and Spain, communities and regions enjoy the same level of competence for gender equality policy as federal/national authorities. They are thus able to develop their own laws/strategies/policies on gender equality. They may also set up their own gender equality bodies, as well as other structures, such as administrative bodies and specific departments/offices.
  • In Portugal and Slovenia, local advisors or coordinators are appointed within each municipality. In Portugal, the responsibilities conferred on local advisors include monitoring local equality strategies and policy measures, submitting proposals, conducting gender impact assessments (on request), and ensuring that the municipality cooperates with the national governmental gender equality body (the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG)). In Slovenia, the appointment of a local advisor/coordinator is not mandatory, but about 20 % of all municipalities across the country have done so. There are visible signs of this trend persisting, given increasing and strengthened local engagement in matters relating to gender equality.

Regional structures in Lithuania and Poland are different to those in other Member States, with an oversight body in place. In Lithuania, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour provides support and guidance to municipalities to integrate gender equality aspects into their regional programmes. In Poland, Plenipotentiaries for Equal Treatment have been appointed to improve the implementation of the principle of equal treatment in all 16 voivodeships (i.e. regions or provinces). These appointees work closely with the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment and NGOs on equal treatment and anti-discrimination-related matters.

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