Who should use Gender Impact Assessment

As gender impact assessment is a tool for gender mainstreaming. Civil servants working for governmental, regional or local offices, departments or ministries initiating a new norm or policy should be involved in the process of gender impact assessment.

There are different ways to carry out a gender impact assessment, depending on the institutional settings and different actors involved. Models can vary depending on the degree of autonomy accorded to civil servants for this task, the assistance provided by gender equality mechanisms and the potential intervention of ‘external’ actors such as gender or legal experts.

Project promoter units model

The most comprehensive model for gender impact assessment foresees that civil servants are in charge of carrying out the gender impact assessment. In this case, gender equality units often fulfil a supporting role, providing respective institutions with relevant methods, tools and recommendations during the process to ensure that the gender impact assessment is of high quality. Gender equality units may also have a monitoring  role to ensure that the gender impact assessment has been  carried out for every relevant regulation from a gender perspective. Examples of such model can be found, for instance, in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. At regional level, similar practices can be found in the lander of Lower Saxony in Germany or in the Basque Country in Spain.

civil servants

[+] Involving civil servants promotes the inclusion of gender impact assessment into their daily routine, since it  affects the design of any regulation, policy and programme as well as the work and knowledge of any civil servant or policymaker involved.

[-] Does not ensure an in-depth analysis from a gender perspective, as people involved do not necessarily have the gender expertise needed to understand how gender roles and gender power relations work in society.

Gender equality unit model

The gender equality unit may be directly in charge of carrying out the gender impact assessment. For instance, in the regional government of Catalonia, in Spain, civil servants working on the legislation or policy under consideration are requested to provide only the raw material (justification for a gender impact assessment and the draft measure), which is then further processed by the central gender equality body to perform gender impact assessments.

[+] Gender expertise is ensured when gender equality units are in charge of gender impact assessment.

[-] Civil servants may not necessarily feel directly responsible for the foreseen gender impact of their regulations, policies or programmes, since the gender equality unit carries on the assessment procedure in full.

Broader impact assessment model

In  some cases,  gender  impact  assessment  is carried  out as one part of a broader impact assessment, which also includes social, economic and/or environmental impact. This would be the case, for instance, in Austria and at the European Commission. Both have general guidelines for impact assessment which include some specific questions that address gender equality-related aspects.

[+] When gender impact assessment is embedded into a broader proceed of impact assessment, it becomes an integral part of routine tasks of civil servants

[-] At the same time, gender perspective may become blurred and lose its relevance.

There is little evidence of participation by non-governmental actors, including gender experts, in the design of gender impact assessment models and their implementation. One exception would be the European Commission, where stakeholder consultation is foreseen as an integral part of the impact assessment procedure.