With International Women’s Day just around the corner, progress towards gender equality is high on the agenda. But what does it take to really pave the way for gender equality?

Today, on the side-lines of the high-level political meeting ‘A gender equal economy in a society free from gender-based violence’, Swedish Minister for Gender Equality, Paulina Brandberg emphasised: "For the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU, economic gender equality and women’s economic empowerment is high up on the political agenda.

Gender budgeting is a strategic tool to support integration of a gender equality perspective in budgets, to help us make informed decisions and to move ahead on gender equality. Gender responsive budgets can support women’s labour market participation, create sustainable growth, social development, prosperity and contribute to the EU’s competitiveness.”

“EIGE’s research makes a compelling case for the importance of gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting for more gender equality and economic growth”, Minister Brandberg added. 

EIGE’s new report The pathway to progress provides grounds for further action to help strengthen effective structures promoting gender equality and gender mainstreaming in EU Member States.

Carlien Scheele, EIGE’s Director states: “The EU's effort to assess the strength and functioning of national structures for gender equality and gender mainstreaming has no comparison to any other region of the world. This in itself shows a high commitment.”

EIGE’s research in cooperation with Member States looks at structures and resource allocations for gender equality, assesses the use of gender mainstreaming in national policies and examines the production and dissemination of sex disaggregated data which is key for planning and evaluation.

“EIGE’s research clearly shows that we need to step up the use of gender mainstreaming in the EU to design policies that benefit both women and men in all their diversity. EIGE will continue to provide practical tools and guidance to support Member States on their way to more gender-sensitive policy making.”, Director Scheele says.  

Headline indicators on human resources for the national gender equality bodies and gender mainstreaming show the lowest scores

In fact, since the start of EIGE’s research in this area in 2012, there has been a decrease in commitment to gender mainstreaming. The practical implementation of gender mainstreaming is higher in countries that have legislation mandating the use of gender mainstreaming than those without.

And while many Member States are doing ex-ante gender impact assessments, this is not always followed through. Gender budgeting across Member States is low overall based on minimal legal obligations.  

This research is part of EIGE’s mandate to monitor the implementation of Area H of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU with two previous data collection exercises: the first in 2012 and the second in 2018. Data is also available on EIGE’s Gender Statistics Database and on EIGE’s Gender Mainstreaming Platform

EIGE will continue to monitor the effectiveness of institutional mechanisms, placing emphasis on accountability, coordinated structures and resource allocation to enable policy and verbal commitments to stand up with tangible results.