The first results of the EU’s Gender Action Plan, presented Thursday at the European Development Days, show that it is already helping to improve the EU’s work with women and girls around the world. The Plan presents a valuable picture of what is being done on the ground to improve gender equality, and what has been achieved so far.
One year on from the launch of the EU Gender Action Plan, the first annual report shows that that many EU Delegations and Member States are putting in place new procedures to ensure that gender issues are systematically taken into account; both in their policy making and, frequently, also in their budget support programmes.
Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, welcomed the findings: “Gender is at the heart of our EU development policy. In any project we carry out, be it in agriculture, education or health, we make sure it reaches women and girls. One year on from the launch of our Gender Action Plan, the European Development Days provide a good opportunity for us to take stock of what’s been achieved so far, and I’m delighted to see that it is already making a difference on the ground; helping governments to set up programmes to promote equality and create new policy which takes women’s best interests into account”.
The Gender Action Plan was set up to improve coordination and reinforce the EU’s work on gender to make sure that it had more impact on the ground. Crucially, it set up an accountability system, which put in place a range of indicators and a system of annual reporting to ensure that the plan was implemented and made a difference where most needed.
The report shows a number of good practices to promote gender equality. In Morocco, for example, a budget programme to support the implementation of the Government’s Agenda for the Equality between Women and Men is going to be launched in 2012 (worth €35 million). The programme helps to improve the social, economic and political environment in Morocco to make it more equal, and contributes to mainstreaming gender in development policies and programmes.
Similarly, in Mexico, the EU delegation provided assistance to help the government with the reform of the justice system, including the improvement of legislation on violence against women. In Guatemala, a donor group was set up to follow up on cases of sexual and gender-based violence and support women’s rights defenders in the country.
In India, the EU Delegation is supporting the Government of India with an €80 million programme to provide quality education for all children between 6 and 14, and, in particular, to offer free residential schools for girls from marginalised communities. The programme is helping to eliminate the gender gap and India has now in fact achieved gender equality in primary education.
The report shows that the EU is also strengthening its cooperation with UN Women – the UN body in charge of gender equality and women’s empowerment. An EU-UN Women’s strategic partnership will be launched during the first trimester of 2012.
The European Development Days were launched in 2006 as an opportunity for key partners to come together to talk about how to make aid more effective and how to build on European development cooperation. This year’s event focuses on the Arab Spring and governance and human rights. The five previous editions have featured 36 Heads of State, 60 Heads of Government or ministers and seven Nobel Prize winners. The last edition in 2010 in Brussels attracted a total of 5000 participants.