Published 23 March 2021

Gender Mainstreaming

This checklist is intended for organizations that want to implement gender mainstreaming in their operations and activities. It also describes the roles that elected officials, high-level civil servants, strategists and other key persons play in this process.

There are some important conditions that must be present if an organization is to succeed with its implementation of gender mainstreaming:

  • The organization must have a function on its central level that works strategically with gender equality issues in its various administrations and services.
  • The organization must have a functioning management system, and everyone involved must know how this system affects their own work.
  • All employees need to be aware of the steering and management system and understand their individual role in reaching organizational goals.

Instructions for the checklist

The items of this checklist do not have to be checked off in a given order, except for the first one, as gender mainstreaming efforts must start with elected officials adopting a decision to implement gender mainstreaming.

A Gender Mainstreaming Assessement Checklist can be downloaded or printed as a PDF document. You can give every item on the list a score of 1 to 3. By totalling the individual scores, you can get an idea of how far you have come in these efforts, and can compare your progress year by year.

Gender Mainstreaming Assessment Checklist (PDF) Pdf, 129 kB.

  • 1. The elected council makes a decision mandating gender mainstreaming

    In a politically governed organization, it is the elected officials that decide on the content and extent of the organization’s operations (within the framework of legally-mandated obligations). A decision by an elected body or official is a necessary precondition if efforts for change are to permeate the entire organization and acquire long-term sustainability.

    The first step in the gender mainstreaming process is for the elected body to adopt a comprehensive and long-term decision to implement gender mainstreaming in the organization.

    This can take place in various ways. In many municipalities and county councils, the elected council has adopted the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life (also known as the “CEMR Charter”), thereby undertaking to implement gender equality in its operations.

    The decision can also take other forms, such as the adoption by the local council of a gender mainstreaming plan, or of gender mainstreaming operations as a budgetary objective.

  • 2. The elected council requests feedback regarding gender mainstreaming efforts

    As an elected official, you play an important role in keeping a focus on these issues, and ensuring that the undertaking is not forgotten.

    Giving a municipal or regional councillor the responsibility for gender equality issues will help to ensure that these issues stay on the agenda.

    You can also establish a special delegation, or a committee consisting of a group of leading elected officials, that will monitor gender mainstreaming efforts, for example, by conducting an ongoing dialogue with heads of municipal administrations and agencies, and by reviewing policies and other governing documents. It is important that this group have the mandate and legitimacy needed if they are to impose demands in their dialogue with the various administrations and agencies.

    By requesting a showing of results, the elected leadership makes it clear that their decision must be implemented so as to result in concrete actions. Ask questions and demand feedback, and follow-up on gender mainstreaming in budget discussions, follow-up conferences, and other reviews with leading officials in administrations and agencies.

    As elected officials, you make decisions that link planning, budget work and monitoring to your comprehensive gender equality policy goals. In other words, the positions you take are built into control and management systems.

  • 3. Top management ensure that the elected council’s gender mainstreaming decisions are implemented in all functions and activities

    The top management are responsible for ensuring that the decision of the elected body to adopt gender mainstreaming is implemented throughout the organization.

    As a chief executive, you should monitor the results in your administration as they relate to women and men, and ensure that a gender equality perspective is evident in the periodic reports and operational plans for your administration.

    If analyses reveal flaws with regard to gender equality, you, as an executive, should request suggestions for corrective measures.

    Ensure that gender mainstreaming is a permanent item on the agenda at executive and steering committee meetings and conferences, and for municipal leadership groups and other similar forums. Bring up gender equality efforts in dialogues with subordinates, performance reviews, and salary discussions.

  • 4. The competence and ability to apply effective gender mainstreaming approach is well ensured in the organisation

    Gender mainstreaming requires expertise and skill in gender equality, gender equality analysis, management, leadership, monitoring and follow-up, and quality improvement.

    Not every employee needs to know all of this. The need for expertise and skill in every case is based on the specific tasks and field of each employee or administrator. Elected officials, too, need to possess a fundamental knowledge of gender equality and gender mainstreaming.

    As an elected official, you can adopt decisions mandating every administration and agency set aside resources for gender equality training, and ensure that both personnel and elected officials participate in these educational programmes.

    As an executive, you are responsible for ensuring that the administration you head has the right skills and expertise to fulfil the undertakings that arise from policy decisions, as well as laws and ordinances.

    As an officer with a strategic function , you play a key role in the development of skills and expertise in gender equality by contributing expertise in education and other measures that increase the competence of employees in the organization, and by analysing human resource development needs and taking steps to fulfil these.

  • 5. The gender equality perspective is evident in goals, budgets and other governing documents

    The gender equality perspective can be made evident in goals, budgets and other governing documents in a number of ways:

    • Operational goals in action plans can be specified for women and men. For example, one goal may be that an equal percentage of men and women who participate in labour market programs should find a job after the end of the intervention.
    • The expression “gender equality” should be included in the formulation of the goals. For example, that the municipality should offer gender-equal services and workplaces.
    • Guidelines for various activities should contain a description of how gender equality should be implemented in the activity in question, such as, for instance, guidelines for gender equality in assessments for social assistance.

    As an elected official, you can adopt decisions mandating that a gender equality perspective should be evident in goals, budgets and agency plans. Be alert to flaws in the chain of command, and speak up when the feedback does not reflect the policy decisions you have made.

    As a chief executive, you need to ensure that a functioning management system is in place and familiar to administrators and employees. When activities are monitored and followed up, you need to be alert to, and identify, where there are any flaws in the chain of command for gender equality so that these areas can be remedied. Guidelines and instructions should state clearly that regulatory documents are required to have a gender equality perspective.

    There should also be clear routines regarding what should happen when employees and administrators fail to comply with the directions. These can include sending back regulatory documents and monitoring reports for supplementation. An important part of the controller’s work is to monitor the extent to which guidelines and instructions are actually applied.

    As a strategist (responsible for the gender equality function in the organisation), you contribute knowledge that ensures that goal formulation and planned activities are based on actual equality challenges. You need to be familiar with the management system, and with those areas where gender mainstreaming is easy to implement, and those that require extra efforts.

    An important part of strategic work is identifying thresholds and being able to smooth them out.

  • 6. All individual-based statistics are reported, analysed and presented by sex

    Having sex-disaggregated statistics is a condition for clearly showing structural gender-based differences between women and men. As a person’s legal gender is shown by the national registration number, all register-based statistics can be analysed and presented by sex.

    When data is gathered through surveys, the respondent must state his or her gender in order for the statistics to show gender as a parameter. Many surveys offer a third choice for those persons who identify neither as a woman nor as a man. Bear in mind that registration of gender identity can be sensitive personal information, which can result in a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Also, if a group of respondents is too small, it can be difficult to ensure a respondent’s anonymity.

    Analysing statistics

    In order to ensure services of equal value and an equal allocation of resources, the statistics must be analysed. Does a difference between women and men, girls and boys imply the existence of gender inequality? What are the consequences of the difference in questions? How should the difference be interpreted in relation to the organizations gender equality goals?

    In order to refine this gender equality analysis, it should also include factors other than gender. How are various groups of women and men affected if we consider, age, country of birth, level of education, functional disability or sexual orientation?

    As an elected official, you should demand that sex-disaggregated statistics are included in reports, budget reviews and documentation for decisions, and that these data are subject to a gender equality analyses. If this is not done, the matter should be sent back for supplementation.

    As an chief executive, you should ensure that there are clear guidelines and method support for gender-disaggregated statistics, and that your systems support the gathering and handling of this kind of statistics (demand this when purchasing these systems).

    As a strategist, you can contribute knowledge by showing examples of the difference having sex-disaggregated statistics can make, and how this type of statistics can be analysed. One important part of this work is to view your local challenges in light of what research and national conditions show about fundamental gender equality challenges in our society.

  • 7. A gender impact assessment is included in all draft council proposals

    Draft proposals prepared by an administration to be used by elected officials as a basis for their decisions must contain a gender impact assessment. How will the decision affect the allocation of resources between women and men? How would the decision affect attitudes about, and services provided to, users, patients, students and others, from a gender perspective? How would the decision affect the opportunity to gain control and influence for women, men, girls and boys?

    In order to refine this gender equality analysis, it should also include factors other than gender. How are various groups of women and men affected if we consider, age, country of birth, level of education, functional disability or sexual preference?

    As an elected official, you need documentation that will help you make decisions that accord with adopted policies regarding gender mainstreaming, and which contribute to the gender equality goals you established. If the documentation on which you are to base these decisions does not provide the support you need, you should ask that it be supplemented.

    As an chief executive, you are responsible for ensuring that there are clear guidelines, tools and support for gender impact assessments in draft proposals and other documentation for decisions, and that the employees are familiar with these.

    As strategists, you can contribute a gender equality perspective to the analyses of the various activities. You can use your skills and expertise in gender equality to help contribute to the inclusion of issues of power and gender norms in the analysis, and explain how these factors can be understood for different groups of women and men.

  • 8. Outcome and results of functions and activities for women and men, girls and boys, are clearly evident in regular operational and budgetary monitoring.

    Gender mainstreaming means that monitoring activities from a gender equality perspective should not require a separate system, but should be part of the regular operations and budget review.

    Monitoring activities as part of the regular operations and budget review means finding out what positive or negative effects your activity has on women and men, and girls and boys, in relation to the goals of the activity. In order to monitor how an activity contributes to promoting gender equality in our society, the monitoring should be based on the national gender equality policy goals.

    As an elected official, you can act to make gender equality more evident in those documents that are used for decisions by elected bodies and that control operations.

    As a chief executive, you are responsible for ensuring that the monitoring system shows how operations and the budget impact women and men, as well as girls and boys. This requires access to sex-disaggregated statistics, gender-related goals, and gender equality indicators.

  • 9. Gender mainstreaming has generated concrete and sustainable improvements in the organisation’s areas of operation

    Gender equality efforts are a part of the continuous work of raising and securing the quality of activities. Sustainable improvements of activities mean both improvements of gender mainstreaming structures, and practical improvements in the services provided to women and men, girls and boys.

    As an elected official, you can ask what results your gender mainstreaming decisions have had in the daily work with students, users, patients and other groups of women and men, and girls and boys. This is both a way of highlighting good examples and clarifying your expectations regarding the results that should be produced by administrations and activities.

    Practical examples of improvements are important tools for communicating gender equality issues to residents, in order to explain policy prioritizations and show how they benefit the municipality and its residents.

    As a strategist, you serve both as the link between gender equality as a field of knowledge and the organization that is to implement gender mainstreaming, and the link between policy decisions and their implementation throughout the organization. You monitor individual quality improvement relating to activities, and disseminate instructive examples and practical improvements for the residents of the municipality.

  • 10. The approach and methods used for gender mainstreaming can be systematized and applied to other functions and activities, as well

    Long-term sustainable quality improvement require a systematic way of working. There must be clear statements as to who does what, who makes decisions, and how those decisions are to be implemented and followed up.

    Being able to describe gender mainstreaming in a manner that will enable it to be applied to other functions and activities, is a measure of how systematically you have been working.


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