There is nothing new in the fact that the nations of northern Europe,
especially Sweden, Finland and Denmark, play an exemplary
role in European gender politics, although it is also true to say that
in certain areas (men's and women's salaries, distribution of work within
the family) there is still work to be done. In these countries, gender
politics is not primarily directed towards the promotion of women, but
has always focussed on both genders, consciously and specifically promoting
their equal participation in society.
In the City of Stockholm, for example, there is parity between
male and female representatives in both the municipal government and municipal
assembly. In the city's administration, too, there is a high proportion
of women in leading positions. The imminent retirement wave means that
parity at senior administrative level can also be expected in Stockholm
very soon. In Espoo, the second largest city in Finland, the proportion
of women in the municipal assembly has even surpassed that of men. In
comparison, the average proportion of women in municipal councils and
assemblies in the Netherlands is 26.5 %, in Germany 24.7
% and in Italy a mere 9.8 %.
Gender policy in northern Europe pervades all essential fields of social
policy. It is deeply rooted in each nation's social policy and is also
reflected in other areas relevant to social and political life (such as
the taxation system, composition of political and governmental bodies).
In 1995, for instance, the United Nations named Sweden as the "best
practice" example for a policy of equal opportunity and equality.
What is new is the growing realisation that countries in northern Europe
have been able to achieve remarkable socio-political advances which can
be attributed to progressive gender policies and which are also of existential
significance for the future of all European nations. Outstanding examples
in this connection are the comparatively high birth rates, the
comparatively high employment rates of women and the high
levels of education among children and young people in Scandinavian
Based on these findings, the European Union and the European Commission
have a very significant role to play in showing the way forward for European
gender policy. Support from Europe is of vital importance, especially
in overcoming the forces of inertia at national, regional and local level,
and a decisive instrument for achieving this is the implementation of
gender mainstreaming in the countries of the European Union at national,
regional and local level.
The European Sister Cities Going Gender network has the task of
supporting the implementation of gender mainstreaming in Europe. Through
their co-operation with associated partners in the north of Europe (Stockholm,
Helsinki) and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions
(CEMR), Cities with a European flair from the south (Rome, Venice, Turin),
the east (Vienna), the west (Rotterdam), and the centre (Frankfurt), are
to help the principle of gender mainstreaming achieve a break-through
at municipal level throughout Europe.
When it comes to the implementation of gender mainstreaming in European
cities, there is a clear North-South divide:
Equality Policy and Gender Mainstreaming in Scandinavia
Almost all larger cities in Sweden have been actively addressing this
issue since the late 1990s and all cities have officers responsible for
gender mainstreaming, as well as a wealth of experience in its implementation.
The principle is still largely unknown in Finnish cities. However, towns
and cities in Finland do have detailed equality plans which will be of
great importance for the implementation of gender mainstreaming in the
(See Annex I: Wenner, G./ Schneider, W./
Jung, D.: GENDER EQUALITY POLICY and GENDER MAINSTREAMING in Scandinavia:
An Example of Selected Cities - Fact-finding Trip to Stockholm and Helsinki/
21 25 June 2004 - Report; Frankfurt am Main, 2004)
In contrast, cities in the countries of central Europe have only just
begun implementing gender policies and the gender mainstreaming principle:
In Frankfurt am Main (Germany) for instance, there was an unequivocal
City Council Assembly resolution in 2002 to implement gender mainstreaming
and the initial steps in this process have already been taken. Some cities
in Austria and the Netherlands have been involved in the process
of introducing gender budgeting at municipal level for some time now and
have already gained useful experience in this field.
It is in the cities of southern Europe in particular that gender
mainstreaming as an accepted task of municipal government has not yet
entered the awareness of the majority of political decision-makers. The
main task here is to make the principle and methods of gender mainstreaming
known to people at the political level of municipal administration.
The European Commission's Community Programme on Gender Equality (2001-2005)
has enabled the Sister Cities Going Gender network to carry
out gender mainstreaming pilot projects in the cities involved.
of the Gender Mainstreaming Principle in the City of Frankfurt
The City of Frankfurt
(Germany) took on the task of developing a pilot project that could be
used as a model for implementing gender mainstreaming in European cities.
The implementation process for gender mainstreaming in Frankfurt was accompanied
by a socio-scientific study throughout the entire course of the project
from January 2004 to February 2005. The city's experiences were then published
in an information folder and made available to other European cities to
assist them in their own projects.
(See Annex II: City of Frankfurt: GENDER
MAINSTREAMING International; Frankfurt am Main, 2005)
Mainstreaming as an
Controversial Issue describing the Political Conditions Experienced in
the Implementation of Gender Mainstreaming Principle in European Cities
Gender mainstreaming is a controversial issue, even within the European
women's movement. Many women fear - and have unfortunately experienced
as much in some cases - public funding being withdrawn from projects related
specifically to women with gender mainstreaming being given as the reason.
The Verein Autonome Österreichische
Frauenhäuser AÖF (Austrian Women's Shelter
Network), Vienna (Austria), compiled an expertise on this issue describing
the positive and negative political conditions experienced in the implementation
of gender mainstreaming in European cities.
(See Annex III: AÖF: GENDER MAINSTREAMING
Does GENDER MAINSTREAMING improve Women's Chances to participate
in decision-making processes? An expertise; Vienna, 2005)
Budget Analysis in The Cities of Rome and Rotterdam
Policies in general, and this also holds true for equality policy, are
finally decided by the allocation and distribution of public funds. This
is why the realisation of gender-sensitive budgeting is of such importance.
The projects in the Cities of Rome
(Italy) and Rotterdam
(the Netherlands) therefore focus on introducing the methods of gender
budgeting in selected municipal areas.
(See Annex IV: City of Rome: GENDER BUDGET
Analysis in Rome - Suggestions for a Guidelines Document; Rome 2005)
(See Annex V: City of Rotterdam: Jongens
and Meisjes in de Schijnwerpers Pilot Gender Mainstreaming en Gender
Budgeting in het jeugdbeleid in de Gemeende Rotterdam; Rotterdam, 2005)
In particular through discussions with male and female experts in Sweden
and Finland, we have been able to ascertain that the successful
implementation and application of gender mainstreaming in municipal decision-making
procedures is very closely linked to the gender-related make-up of municipal
decision-making bodies. The more parity there is between male and female
representation, the better the chances are of gender mainstreaming methods
actually being applied in the decision-making process and the different
interests of men and women actually being taken into consideration. For
this reason, it is vital to link the introduction of gender mainstreaming
always with specific measures promoting women's access to senior executive
positions. The cities of Turin and Venice have been dealing
with this topic over the last 15 months as part of the Sister Cities
Going Gender project.
the "Glass Ceiling"
The City of Turin (Italy)
compiled a comparative analysis of selection mechanisms and career developments
of men and women in three different types of organisation (administrative,
non-profit and profit-making). The objective was to develop effective
instruments for breaking through the so-called "glass ceiling".
(See Annex VI: City of Turin: Empowerment
of Women in the Work Place: Critical Cognitive Factors in Acquiring Negotiating
Skills - Instruments for Negotiation; Turin, 2005)
of Politics" for Women in Municipal Administration and Politics
To increase the proportion of women in senior political positions, the
City of Venice (Italy) has set up a "School of
Politics" for women in municipal administration and politics.
(See Annex VII: City of Venice: School of
Politics Training Course on Gender Equality; Venice, 2005)
The pilot projects initiated by Sister Cities Going Gender
and the cooperation between the cities have provided important new impulses
for gender policies and the gender mainstreaming implementation processes
in the participating cities. Collation of knowledge and experience gained
during the course of the project allowed a foundation to be laid for
setting up a Gender Competence Centre for European cities. Publication
and propagation of this knowledge and experience began at the project'sFinal
Results, held in co-operation with the Council of European Municipalities
and Regions (CEMR) in Brussels.
Publication and propagation will be continued and extended via the project's
website, www.sister-cities-going-gender.org, from June 2005 onwards.
Frankfurt am Main, May 2005
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