Gender-equality training provides participant(s) with the relevant knowledge, skills and values that allow them to contribute to the effective implementation of the gender-mainstreaming strategy in their field, organisation, institution or country.
In order to effectively mainstream gender, civil servants should be able to:
All these actions require adequate theoretical knowledge, practical skills and sometimes also a change in attitude and behaviour. Recognising that no political or organisational practice is gender neutral is a learning process.
A well-designed legal and institutional framework as well as good organisational management are essential for gender mainstreaming to bring about the expected results. But it is equally important to equip individual staff members with the understanding and tools that will enable them to perform their gender-mainstreaming duties well.
This is where gender-equality competence development comes into play as one of the most essential components of a gender-mainstreaming strategy.
As defined by UN Women, gender-equality training is a ‘tool, strategy, and means to effect individual and collective transformation towards gender equality through consciousness raising, empowering learning, knowledge building, and skill development'. Gender-equality training is not a goal in itself, or a single tool to implement gender mainstreaming. It is part of a wider set of tools, instruments and strategies. Gender-equality training should be incorporated into a continuous and long-term process.
Nevertheless, gender-equality training is an important component of the gender-mainstreaming strategy, and is recognised as such by several international and European normative instruments on gender equality.
Basic terms and definitions
A commissioning authority is a person or body responsible for the planning, delivery and funding of the gender-equality competence development activity. Gender-equality competence aims at changing gendered perspectives on the roles of women and men, countering gender-related stereotypes and creating a more equal society. It does this by helping both women and men advance towards the concrete implementation of gender equality in their daily lives and work. Gender-equality competence development initiatives, such as gender-equality training, should help both women and men question the gendered and unequal distribution of power between women and men (1). These activities have a transformative objective and seek to foster changes in people’s behaviour and attitudes.
Gender-equality competence in public policies
Gender-equality competence in public policies refers to the skills, attributes and behaviours that people need in order to mainstream gender effectively. It requires recognition of the fact that no political and organisational action is gender neutral and that women and men are affected by policies in a different way. It implies theoretical knowledge on gender-related concepts and practical knowledge of the various tools that can be used to mainstream gender. It is not about ‘women’s issues’ only, but seeks to foster reflection on the stereotypes and gendered roles of both women and men, with the aim of understanding what constraints hinder real equality. To date, a number of efforts have been made to develop gender competence within public policy organisations.
Gender-equality competence development
Gender-equality competence development is a term broader than gender-equality training, as it is understood to include a wide range of different educational tools and processes, including:
- Face-to-face training events and courses of study;
- Staff induction programmes;
- Online modules;
- Guidance materials and compendia of resources;
- Networks for sharing expertise.
At organisational level, gender competence can be acquired through a specific learning process that includes the following aspects:
- Human resource development: This equips individuals with the knowledge, understanding, skills and access to information and training that enable them to perform their gender-mainstreaming responsibilities in their daily work, reflect on the impact of gender on their life in general and challenge the status quo;
- Organisational development: This creates management structures, processes and procedures that facilitate gender mainstreaming, both within the organisation and in its relationships with different organisations and sectors (public, private and community);
- Institutional and legal framework development: This makes legal and regulatory changes that enable organisations, at all levels and in all sectors, to enhance their capacities.