Progress made with the Government Action Plan for Gender Equality as planned
The Government's cross-sectoral working group on gender equality has assessed the progress of the action plan and prepared a final report. The final report concludes that a large number of the measures in the gender equality action plan were achieved, despite the crises that shook the world. The Government discussed the progress of the Action Plan for Gender Equality in its evening session on 22 February.
The Government Action Plan for Gender Equality contains 55 key measures with which the ministries seek to promote gender equality. These measures cover areas such as working life, reconciling work and family life, strengthening economic equality and the rights of gender minorities. The action plan also promotes equality in early childhood education and training, strengthens gender mainstreaming and supports the prevention of violence against women and intimate partner violence.
Legislative means to promote equality
The Action Plan for Gender Equality 2020-2023 included an exceptionally large number of legislative projects, most of which have been completed. During the government term, the position of gender minorities was improved with the reform of the act on legal recognition of gender. Following the reform of the Equality Act, the obligation to prepare an equality plan will also be extended to early childhood education. The comprehensive reform of the legislation on sexual offences was a major step forward in reducing violence against women and intimate partner violence. Other legislative measures included more effective restraining orders and the addition of gender to aggravating circumstances in a crime.
With regard to most objectives, progress was made as planned, but measures such as promoting pay transparency and preventing discrimination due to pregnancy or family leave through legislation were not implemented. The promotion of pay transparency at the national level will be supported by the implementation of the Pay Transparency Directive negotiated by the EU Parliament and Member States in December 2022. Indeed, the promotion of gender equality has often been supported and boosted by EU initiatives and obligations included in international agreements.
Progress in gender mainstreaming
In terms of gender mainstreaming, progress has been made during the period covered by the action plan. As the aim of gender mainstreaming is to bring about lasting changes in administrative practices and guidelines, progress can, at times, be slow and uneven. Despite some positive developments, gender mainstreaming in projects and reforms has been challenging. For example, gender impact assessment is not yet an established part of the budget process and legislative drafting process.
According to the final report, the Action Plan for Gender Equality would be more effective if the gender perspective were to be integrated into all reforms and projects from the beginning, starting from preparations. The challenge with government action plans for gender equality has been delays with finalising the key entries; typically the key projects of the government term are already under way by the time these are completed. It is difficult to incorporate gender equality objectives retroactively. Ministries often expect that the obligation to incorporate gender equality in various reforms comes from the Action Plan for Gender Equality. However, public authorities have a legal obligation to systematically promote equality.
A record number of entries regarding gender equality in the Government Programme
The Government Programme contains a record number, or more than 70 entries on equality. To avoid overlapping follow-up processes, only some of the equality objectives for this government term were included in the Action Plan for Gender Equality. Therefore, a broader analysis extending beyond the Action Plan would be required for an overall assessment of progress made in gender equality during the government term. Overall, however, it is safe to say that the Government has implemented many essential and important projects in terms of gender equality, such as the reform of family leave and sexual offences legislation.
“The Action Plan for Gender Equality is an important and essential tool for promoting gender equality. To achieve the best results, it is important that all the relevant parties commit to the objectives and that progress towards these objectives is closely monitored,” said Minister Blomqvist, commenting on the final report. The Minister added that the Government Report on Gender Equality Policy, which was completed last year, contains the main guidelines for promoting gender equality until the end of the 2020s.
Laura Ollila, Special Adviser to Minister Blomqvist, tel. +358 29 515 0186, [email protected]
Päivi Yli-Pietilä, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63228, [email protected]