Gender mainstreaming has been progressively developed in Spain over the last 15 years. It was first mentioned in the Plan for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women, which was approved in 1997. This document called for a ‘transversal approach’ to gender equality – as equality-policy plans require different government departments to adopt gender-policy measures included in the plan – and recommended that all policies be revised from a gender perspective.
A step forward for the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming was taken in 2007, when the transversal approach was incorporated into a binding norm, the Law on the Effective Equality of Men and Women, which introduced specific methods and structures to effectively implement gender mainstreaming, including gender budgeting, gender impact assessment, etc. Although some of these methods were already in place (i.e. gender impact assessment), this norm meant a clear mandate for their development, and the effective revision of all policies from a gender perspective was facilitated. That is, these instruments helped to move beyond the preceding stage, which was limited to the introduction of a general mandate, towards a transversal approach.
National level: The State Secretariat of Social Services and Equality, within the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, has a specific mandate on equality issues and runs two agencies: the Office of Gender-Based Violence, which is in charge of developing public policies on gender‑based violence that aim to uphold the rights of female victims of gender‑based violence, and the Directorate General of Equal Opportunities, which enhances equal treatment and opportunities between women and men, and the social and political participation of women.
The Women’s Institute, created in 1983, is an autonomous body affiliated to the Directorate General of Equal Opportunities, in charge of both promoting gender equality and protecting women’s rights. It includes two observatories: the Observatory for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women, which studies and assesses gender gaps in socioeconomic life and proposes policies to improve women’s situation, and the Observatory of Women’s Image, which was created in 1994 to promote a sound, non‑stereotyped image of women.
Other specific structures that contribute to implementing gender mainstreaming are the Interdepartmental Commission for Equality (with representatives from all ministries), and the gender units attached to each ministry, which are devoted to developing key methods such as gender impact assessment and gender statistics.
State of Autonomies level: In Spain, all 17 autonomous communities have established at least one central structure responsible for gender policies. Two types of structures have been set up at thislevel: autonomous agencies and departments. Ten communities have autonomous agencies analogous to the Women’s Institute at the national level. These are institutionalised by law and have their own budget and staff, and similar goals and tasks. Seven regions have established specific departments in charge of gender-equality policies. A list is provided below:
- Andalusia (Regional Ministry of Equality and Welfare);
- Aragon (Regional Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family);
- Asturias (Regional Ministry of Presidency);
- Balearic Islands (Regional Ministry of Health, Family and Welfare);
- Canary Islands (Regional Ministry of Presidency, Justice and Equality);
- Cantabria (Regional Ministry of Presidency and Justice);
- Castilla La Mancha (Presidency);
- Castilla y León (Regional Ministry of Family and Equal Opportunities);
- Catalonia (Regional Ministry of Welfare and Family);
- Extremadura (Regional Ministry of Health and Social Policies);
- Galicia (Regional Ministry of Presidency, Public Administrations and Justice);
- La Rioja (Regional Ministry of Health and Social Policies);
- Madrid (Regional Ministry of Social Affairs);
- Murcia (Regional Ministry of Health and Social Policy);
- Navarre (Regional Ministry of Social Policies);
- Basque Country (Regional Presidency);
- Community of Valencia (Regional Ministry of Welfare).
Besides these structures, Spanish autonomous communities have also set up interdepartmental commissions and gender units with gender-mainstreaming responsibilities. Twelve communitites have set up interdepartmental commissions aimed at coordinating gender policies and fostering the transversal introduction of a gender perspective. The members of these interdepartmental commissions are representatives from all territorial ministries (ministers or sub-secretaries, depending on the community) who meet once or twice a year. Gender units covering the whole territorial administration have been created for some communitites, while seven communitites have opted to create a gender unit for each of the territorial ministries. The responsibilities of the former include, inter alia, developing guidelines and materials, delivering gender training and advising on how to implement gender mainstreaming, whereas the latter conduct similar tasks to the national level units such as collecting sex-disaggregated statistics, drafting gender impact assessments, promoting gender training, etc.
An agency to coordinate both the national and the community level has been created (Sector Conference for Equality). This agency gathers representatives from the ministry in charge of gender equality at national level and from each of the territorial agencies and departments. It is conceived as a mechanism for horizontal cooperation and the national government has no capacity to impose any line of action.
Laws and policies
Gender mainstreaming has been considered as a key strategy since the Plan for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women in 1997, which stated that gender equality should be a transversal goal for all policies. This reference represented the inclusion of a general mandate on the need to complement equal treatment and positive actions with a gender-mainstreaming approach; from that moment onwards, all equality plans approved by the national government introduced explicit references to this strategy, which became consolidated as a key approach to combat inequalities between women and men. However, the consolidation of the strategy owes most to its being formalised in Law 3/2007 on the Effective Equality on Men and Women. Law 3/2007 states in Article 15 that gender mainstreaming must represent a basic principle of action for all public administrations, and that a gender perspective must be included in all norms, budgets and actions. In addition, the law prescribes the creation of gender units within all ministries and regulates key gender-mainstreaming methods, including gender impact assessment, gender monitoring and gender training, as well as an Interdepartmental Commission for Equality and a participatory Women’s Participation Council. This council, created as a professional advisory body – essentially to provide a channel for women’s participation in the effective achievement of equal treatment and opportunities – was set up only in 2009. It embraces a wide variety of agents, from women’s organisations and social partners to representatives of different levels of government.
Methods and tools
A variety of methods have been put into practice. Law 3/2007 requires gender training for all public-administration personnel and the introduction of gender issues in the examination to enter the civil service, as well as sex-disaggregated statistics, gender impact assessment, gender monitoring and a participatory Women’s Council.