The European Union (EU) played, and still plays, a key role in initiating and contributing to gender-mainstreaming policies in Lithuania. Gender mainstreaming started to be addressed at the national level when Lithuania was invited to enter negotiations to join the EU in 1999. All national documents had to meet EU standards and requirements. There was a political will to enter the EU and adapt all policies in line with the required criteria. For instance, there was a need for a Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, so it was drafted and integrated into the Lithuanian legal system, and the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson was established in 1999.
Efforts to promote gender mainstreaming have been formalised in important policy documents, such as the national programmes on equal opportunities for women and men, and the action plans for the implementation of national programmes.
The permanent national body in charge of overall coordination of the implementation of equal opportunities policy for women and men is the Division of Women and Men Equality within the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. It was set up in 1997 and formerly known as the Gender Equality Division. Furthermore, the Interministerial Commission of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, which comprises at least one representative from all ministries, has a mandate to promote gender equality and to ensure gender mainstreaming in the department they represent. The Division of Women and Men’s Equality serves as the secretariat to the Interministerial Commission on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
Laws and policies
The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men was issued in 1998 to ensure the implementation of the Lithuanian constitution, which had enshrined equal rights for women and men and prohibited any form of discrimination based on sex. The constitution prohibits discrimination within employment, education, and supply and access to goods and services. The Law on Equal Treatment in 2005 expanded the list of protected grounds to include ethnicity/race, sexual orientation, age, disability and religion/belief, and reaffirmed the principle of protection from gender-based discrimination.
The national programmes on equal opportunities for women and men and the action plans for their implementation include gender-mainstreaming references. They cover the work of all ministries and are based on the principles of strategic planning. The programmes and plans set out concrete measures, implementation timeframes, ministerial responsibilities, and the resources needed to implement gender-mainstreaming goals.
Methods and tools
A variety of gender-mainstreaming methods are in place, such as awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives, monitoring and evaluation, research and sex-disaggregated statistics.