State Secretary Kostiainen: Gender Mainstreaming is a joint challenge
Although mainstreaming is an administrative exercise, it should always be borne in mind that the overall objective is that all the measures have impact on the citizens’ everyday life. Otherwise it might be difficult to get citizens to accept the mainstreaming policies. Ms. Leila Kostiainen spoke at a Conference on gender mainstreaming in the EU member states in Stockholm on the 1st of February.
Assessing the impact of mainstreaming appears to be difficult. Often we study the success of mainstreaming on the basis of various measures, although we should be examining the subjective and objective changes the citizens are experiencing. Also the indicators we use should be further developed.
Decisions that appear gender-neutral may affect men and women differently and even strengthen inequality although such effects have not been planned. The gender impacts of different measures are seldom direct, quota provisions being a notable exception. That is why we need gender impact assessment, which can also be used to prevent undesirable effects. The aim is to make gender-neutral, or even gender-blind, procedures gender-sensitive.
Each Finnish ministry has its own gender equality working group. The Government Plan of Action for Gender Equality aims at promoting the implementation of gender mainstreaming. It also defines five areas for mainstreaming at the governmental level, namely legislative drafting, budget preparations, programmes and projects, statistics and training.
Gender equality group at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is doing pioneer work
The gender equality group at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has developed mechanisms for identifying Government bills that require gender impact assessment. It has also piloted in mainstreaming the budget and developed performance guidance, personnel policy, training as well as statistics production at the Ministry.
The working group has especially focused on the Alcohol Programme, the National Health Care Project, and the Development Project for Social Services. Apart from the mainstreaming of the Ministry’s own actions, the gender equality working group has done valuable work in developing models suitable for the entire state administration.
Training is the key to gender mainstreaming
Training is crucial for successful gender mainstreaming as it enables civil servants to adopt the gender perspective in their daily work. The purpose is to increase civil servants’ awareness of the impact their decisions have on gender equality. Gender equality issues vary according to administrative sectors. It is, therefore, extremely important that experts in each sector can identify the gender equality issues significant for their own area of expertise.
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Senior Officer Hanna Onwen-Huma, tel: +358 9 160 74459 or +358 50 467 1946.