Gender Mainstreaming

by Juliette Fournil on March 31, 2015 - 5:58am

Just last month, Patricia Arquette denounced wage inequalities between men and women at the 87th Academy Awards. Last week, I had a drink with two friends (two men) : Thomas decided to take a tea, Julian and I took a beer. But when the waiter brought our drinks , he handed me automatically tea as if a woman does not necessarily drink beer (= as if beer were exclusively for men). These are just two examples. But this two examples shows that inequalities between men and women of any kind are still present everywhere. In everyday life. So it should be the role of politicians helping to change it.

Obviously, these inequalities have been a major political problem for years. Many measures have attempted to reduce (quotas, etc ). But, as also explained by sociologists C. Ridgeway and J. Acker, these inequalities arise in the interactions between individuals. This is why a new approach is needed to address this problem. Gender Mainstreaming may be this solution.

This concept was born from the disappointment of the women involved in international politics in the 1990s (specifically, during the World Conference on Women of 1995). The women had already been actors in gender analysis starting since the 70s , but the 1990s have caused a change in gender analysis using the Gender Mainstreaming: we had to find something new in order to ensure equality between men and women. Gender Mainstreaming is the public policy concept of assessing the different implications of women and men in any planned policy action, including legislation and programmes, in all areas and levels. Mainstreaming essentially offers a pluralistic approach that values the diversity among both women and men. So the aim is to tackle the causes creating an unequal relation between the sexes in all areas of daily life (politics, work, family, sexuality, culture, etc.) Gender Mainstreaming is characterized by employing gender perspective in all policies and programs so that, before decisions are taken, an analysis is made on the efforts on women and men. Now it must be an evidence that the political agenda has been reoriented by rethinking policy goals and means, especially in Europe. Gender Mainstreaming has been introduced into the 4th Program of Actions to equal opportunities for men and women (1996 – 2000). Indeed the new Member States (Finland, Sweden) had already shown a great interest in this issue of equality between women and men. Now it is a part of Europe Strategie-2020. Gender mainstreaming is therefore a global goal for all member states.

Gender mainstreaming can be seen as a process of organisational change involving many aspects. First the policy process has to be reorganized in order to incorporate a gender perspective. A cooperation has to be created between the different levels and areas, particularly in Europe where there are important cultural differences about gender between the states. For example, the use of appropriate policy tools must not be the same to integrate gender variables in a policy in France and in Italy. Gender experts are required.

Thus, gender mainstreaming is effective through legislation, but also through some programs such as 'Fit For Gender Mainstreaming'1. The aim of this program was to bring Gender Mainstreaming in everyday life for everybody and also to improve the « East-West Dialog » about this topic between Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Austria. Another example shows that the trade union Ver.di tries also to bring Gender Mainstreaming into its organisation. It is visible on its website :

Gender Mainstreaming seems to be a good solution to face these inequalities between men and women, insofar as it deals with this problem in every level of our society.



  • Acker, J., 1992 : ''Gendered Institutions'', comtemporary Sociology 21, S 565-569

  • Frey, R., 2004 : Zur Entstehung von Gender Mainstreaming in internationalen Zusammenhängen. In : Meuser, M. / Neusüß, C. (Hg) : Gender Mainstreaming. Konzepte-Handlungsfelder-Instrumente. Bonn : Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, S 122-134



Dear Juliette, your headline is kept very general and so is your article - a general description of this political concept and its underlaying sociological subject. You give an overview for those who aren't aware of the concept and for those you offer some general information. You are easy to follow in your structure. Your argumentation could be a little more specific in it's sociological context.

About the author

I'm Juliette. I come from France and I will study political science and economy for two semester in Potsdam. I'm very interested in international relations and gender studies, that's why I decided to follow this lecture. I'll probably be part of Amnesty International Potsdam.