Gender mainstreaming describes an effort to ensure that the various circumstances and interests in the lives of women and men are regularly assessed in all planned policy action, given that real life never functions in a gender-neutral manner. Gender, by definition, denotes the socially and culturally determined gender roles of women and men. Unlike a person’s biological sex, gender is learned and thus changeable. Mainstreaming indicates a (re)directing of one’s consciousness that works to co-determine political thought and decision-making processes. Because a gender-neutral reality cannot exist, gender mainstreaming is the mandate at the top of the administrative chain directed at all employees. Those in positions of power are to – from the outset – take into account the various interests and lifestyles of women and men, namely in terms of the following:
- the way the management is structured
- the way processes and workflows are organized
- output and products
- communication and public relations
In the same sense that a budget, i.e. income and expenses, can be planned, gender inclusive policy can and should be the result of strategic forethought. This particularly concerns the planning of politically meaningful public budgets at the federal, state and local government levels. The term “gender budgeting” is used internationally to describe the gender-differentiated analysis of public budgets.
Gender mainstreaming is the public policy concept of assessing the different implications for people of different genders of any planned policy action, including legislation and programmes, in all areas and levels.
At the 1995 Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, gender mainstreaming was defined as the political methods and guidelines by which the participating countries must implement their national planned policy action. Gender mainstreaming is also part of the Amsterdam Treaty, which has been regulating EU policy since 1 May 1999. In a cabinet decision made on 23 June 1999, the federal government recognized the equality between women and men as a general guiding principle for its planned actions and decided to support this mission using gender mainstreaming strategies. In 2002, the Bavarian state parliament decided to anchor gender mainstreaming in all areas of policy, as well as to provide advanced training for persons in managerial positions. On 1 October 2002, the Bavarian State Government announced a change to the procedural rules of the Bavarian State Government as well as the organizational guidelines with the aim of promoting a gender-sensitive perspective (AllMBl. Nr. 13/2002, S. 891f).
- The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend): Gender Mainstreaming. Current news and numerous links on gender mainstreaming (Website partially available in English).
- The GenderCompetenceCenter (GenderKompetenzZentrum) offers support on the implementation of gender mainstreaming. It is an application-oriented research facility at the Humboldt University of Berlin’s Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies (ZtG). The GenderCompetenceCenter offers a wide range of consulting services. In addition to providing comprehensive information available on the Internet, for example, it provides an initial consultation on the implementation of gender mainstreaming, as well as research and events on the topic. (Website partially available in English)
- Center of Excellence: Women and Science. https://www.gesis.org/en/cews/cews-home (English-language) is the national hub for the implementation of equal opportunities for women and men in the academics and research in Germany. As a knowledge and research-based service institution, the services provided by CEWS are available to academics, universities, research institutions, scientific organizations and political bodies.
- TOTAL E-QUALITY Deutschland e.V. https://www.total-e-quality.de/en/ (available in English) is committed to establishing equal opportunities for women and men in the business, academic, political and administrative sectors, and to do so in a sustainable way in order to bring about a paradigm shift in personnel policy. The association has created the TOTAL E-QUALITY award for exemplary accomplishments in the procurement of equal opportunities within personnel management. The title is given to companies, organizations, universities and research institutions that pursue a personnel policy geared towards equal opportunities.