Implementing the European Union gender action plan : challenges and opportunities

The EU first articulated its policy commitment to gender equality in development cooperation in 1995, following the Beijing UN Women’s Conference, and has redefined it several times since.

A growing awareness of the gap between EU policy and practice on gender equality on the part of several Member States led the European Commission to draft an operational framework to strengthen implementation: the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (Gender Action Plan). The EU recognised that, despite progress over recent decades, women and girls continue to make up the large majority of the world’s poorest, and women are underrepresented in governments and decision-making bodies, have fewer opportunities and receive lower pay than men in labour and financial markets. There was also concern that the financial and economic crisis could hamper progress already achieved towards gender equality. The Gender Action Plan was included as an Annex to the 2010 Council Conclusions on the MDGs, raising its profile and linking gender equality firmly, if narrowly, to achievement of the MDGs.

In a recent EDCSP research report, Helen O’Connell focuses on the implementation of the Gender Action Plan. The paper explores what has been achieved, identifies challenges and proposes a series of actions to accelerate progress. It also assesses the extent to which the Action Plan remains up to date and, in particular, the extent to which it includes a central economic perspective.

Read the paper here.

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