Mainstreaming gender has become a very “trendy” process for many profitable and non-profit organizations, as it is part of the corporate social responsibility for many of them, and a greenlight to certain communities and sources of funding for others. Overall, claiming that “gender mainstreaming” is a core value, gives credibility to the contemporary organizations and helps them look more professional and accepted in front of other influential organizations and funds. However, a question arises: what is gender mainstreaming, how is it defined, and do these organizations actually mainstream gender?
Some would describe gender mainstreaming as simply considering gender aspect in their work or ensuring women’s participation in several processes, yet this concept is not as simple, as merely filling few positions with women or implementing few activities or providing few of services only for women.
In July 1997, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) defined the concept of gender mainstreaming as follows: “It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality”. This has a rather binary language specifically indicating women and men, while talking about considering the gender aspect. According to European Institute for Gender Equality and UN Women, “gender mainstreaming” is described as “a strategy towards promoting and realizing gender equality”.
The implementation of gender equality in a specific and comprehensive strategy for organizations involves many processes and actions that promote gender sensitivity and women’s equal participation, treatment and enjoyment of all her rights. There are few principles we need to consider, while mainstreaming gender:
- Prioritizing gender equality
- Gender sensitive images and language should be used
- Gender-specific data collection and analysis needs to be conducted
- Equal accessibility to goods, services and resources
- Equal involvement in decision making
- Gender-sensitive budgeting
- Challenge the binary concepts and systems
It is important to understand that mainstreaming gender is not only one process, but an integrity of several principles, processes and actions that have to be considered at all level of institutional operation.