Gender impact assessment has not been formally regulated so far in Denmark, where it nonetheless derives from the most recent Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan (2007-2011), and the national Gender Mainstreaming Strategy (2013-ongoing). Both of those strategic documents emphasise that a gender analysis should take place as an integrated part of policymaking and that all legislative measures should be subject to gender impact assessment.
This is a specific procedure that is not embedded in a general impact assessment system. Furthermore, it has to be conducted within a very broad scope that includes law proposals, public campaigns and services directed at citizens
Gender impact assessment has to be performed by respective ministries, whereas the Division for Gender Equality is usually consulted throughout the process and provides tools on the intranet website to all ministries. This division has also designed the main instruments for gender impact assessment and monitors legislative activity to identify initiatives requiring a gender impact assessment.
According to the current Danish gender-mainstreaming strategy, ‘Gender Impact Assessment is about the public sector taking gender and equality into account in all administration and planning, meaning for instance law proposals, campaigns and services directed at citizens. Gender impact assessment means including knowledge of women and men’s behaviour within a certain area of problem solving with a view to procure the most effective intervention and improve gender equality.
When performing gender impact assessments, the focus is on how the potential differences between women and men within one’s area of intervention prompt particular interventions or prompt a redesign of the efforts being worked on in order to reach the target group.
In Denmark, the main guidelines and supporting instruments for gender impact assessment have been jointly produced by respective ministries, with the core contribution from the Ministry for Gender Equality, in the framework of other more general tools.
However, there is also a specific guide produced directly by the Ministry for Gender Equality. It is the Guidance on How to Perform Gender Impact Assessments in the Public Sector (Ministry for Gender Equality, 2013), which provides a timeline from screening to scoping and actual gender impact assessment.
This guide proposes a three-step process, structured around several questions:
- First, the legislative proposal is submitted to screening, which takes the form of a test of relevance to determine whether or not a gender impact assessment is requested. The following questions must be answered:
Answers to these questions will determine if civil servants are expected to proceed with step two, and must be supported by relevant data and statistics.
- Whom the task/measure will affect?
- Are there differences for women and men as regards conditions, behaviour and/or preferences, needs and opportunities (in the field or area to be touched upon by the task/measure)?
- For the second step (scoping), four questions will guide the assessment:
As for screening, answers to these questions will determine whether an actual gender impact assessment (step 3) is to be carried out.
- Are there any direct gender consequences of the law proposal?
- Are there any indirect gender consequences of the law proposal?
- Are there any short-term gender consequences of the law proposal?
- Are there any long-term gender consequences of the law proposal?
- For this third phase, entailing a more sophisticated assessment, the main guiding questions are the following:
- Do women and men have different conditions, behaviour, preferences and needs within the area affected by the proposal?
- What do these preferences look like?
- Which new rights, obligations and possibilities do women and men obtain with the law proposal?
- How will it affect the access of women, men, girls and boys to: education, the labour market, maternity leave/paternity leave, leave, childcare, pension, transfer income and subsidies, taxes, charges, pay, social life, leisure time, participation?
- How will this influence democratic processes, housing, health, safety (violence, crime rates, bullying and harassment), mobility (transport), innovation (technology and entrepreneurship)?
Strenghts and weaknesses
In Denmark, gender impact assessment has to be performed as a specific process that affects not only lawmaking but public campaigns and services directed at citizens as well. This implies a more focused approach to ensure that regulations and policies are addressed from a gender perspective. The fact that the Ministry of Gender Equality supports and even monitors the process suggests that the gender expertise needed to carry out the gender impact assessment is guaranteed.
On the other hand, the lack of a binding procedure for gender impact assessment could mean that this gender mainstreaming method is not solidly institutionalised.