Gender Mainstreaming



The Team




[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Sept 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Gender Mainstreaming Strategies in Denmark

1. Action Plans for Gender Mainstreaming

Did national, regional and/or local governments in your country launch a plan aiming to implement equal opportunities for women and men in all fields of policy while at the same time ensuring that persisting gender gaps are being addressed by positive action?

If so, please indicate:

Apart from the legislation, an important step towards full equality between women and men was the adoption of the government's plan of action on gender equality, which was presented to Parliament for the first time in 1987. The overall strategy is to make ministries and other central government organisations act as initiators of and models for future-oriented and operational gender related activities. Denmark's national policy on gender equality has been developed in a continuous interaction between the government, Parliament, the Equal Status Council, social partners and the non-governmental organisations.

Thus, about every third year, the Danish government has prepared action plans promoting equal status and opportunities in government organisations and institutions ("Regeringens Handlingsplan for Ligestilling"). The first period was 1987-1990 (Evaluation 1990: "Godt begyndt"). The second period was 1991-1993 (Evaluation 1993: "Vejen videre"), and the third period was 1994-1996 (Evaluation 1996: "Vilje til ligestilling").

In 1995, Denmark approved to work actively with mainstreaming as a strategy, as a follow-up to the UN World Women conference in Beijing in 1995. The year after, Denmark adopted the mainstreaming policy, as the Danish Parliament in 1996 (25.4.1996) made a resolution which instructed the Danish Government to work for the implementation of Equal Status of women and men in all areas of Danish administration and politics.

In 1999, Denmark strengthened its institutional mechanism to promote gender equality. As a first step, in June 1999 the Prime Minister appointed for the first time in Denmark a Minister for Gender Equality with the responsibility for promoting gender equality.

As a second step a new Equal Status Act was introduced to Parliament in spring 2000. The new Act establishes new institutional mechanisms on gender equality with the intention to promote and strengthen equal opportunities between women and men, and in autumn 2000 the three new institutional mechanisms were established.

As a third step the principle of Gender Mainstreaming was included in the new legislation. In line with the mainstreaming strategy all other ministries will have to be responsible for securing gender equality within their portfolio, and they will be given the possibility to promote equality. The Act aims at incorporating the gender aspect into all policies and parts of administration (mainstreaming) as well as allowing for special measures in specific fields. Also the rules are strengthened concerning the composition of public committees and commissions etc. set up by a minister, in order to have more women to take part in decision-making processes in society.

Gender Mainstreaming has in this way been made an active principle in the Danish administration, and all political initiatives, including all relevant Acts, must be assessed to secure gender equality.

Affirmative action
in favour of the under-represented gender is one of the most controversial subjects in the debate on gender equality in Denmark. It is applied in relation to the employment of women in traditionally male dominated areas, as well as to men in social support sectors. While affirmative action is permitted as a means to promote gender equality, many women and men do not immediately accept it as a means to promote a better gender balance. Some women argue that they do not want to get preferential treatment because of their sex. Consequently, affirmative action has only been applied in a limited number of instances, and the subject is continuously discussed in the media.

Official name of plan in original language Lov om ligestilling af kvinder og mænd, Lov nr. 388 af 30.5.2000.

Ministeren for ligestillings redegørelse og perspektiv- og handlingsplan 2001, afgivet til Folketinget 2.3.2001.
Date when plan was presented and launched The New Equal Status Act was introduced to Parliament in February 2000 and was adopted in May 2000. (Law no. 388 of 30.05.2000).

Report together with Perspective and Action Plan, delivered by the Minister for Gender Equality to the Parliament, 2.3.2001.
Essential objectives and features In chapter 3 of the New Equal Status Act, regarding the obligation of public authorities it is stated: "Public authorities shall within their specific areas work for Equal Status and incorporate Equal Status in all planning and administration."

The Minister of Gender Equality is responsible for the government's equality work and co-ordinates all ministers' equality works both nationally and internationally. The new mainstreaming strategy means in practice that Denmark now has 20 equality ministers who have to work for mainstreaming each in their political field.

The Minister of Gender Equality also has the responsibility for the mainstreaming strategy not only in relation to her minister colleagues, but also in relation to all parts of the public administration.
Quantitative goals and timetables The New Equal Status Act requires under § 5, chapter 3, that all Ministries, governmental institutions and governmental agencies to work out reports every second year. An exception from the requirement is institutions and agencies with 50 employees or less. The reports are to be sent to the Minister of Gender Equality, who also accordingly to § 6 has the right to set specific demands to the information level and nature of the questions of the reports.

The Minister of Gender Equality is by the Act required to work out a status report to the Danish Parliament before the 1st of March every year. This report should contain a perspective plan and an action plan for the Equal Status Work. The Minister delivered her first report to the Parliament on 2 March 2001.

In so far, these status reports are the primary tools to evaluate the progress.
Allocated budget Parliament has allocated DKK 19.5 million in the budget for the year 2000, which more than doubles the previous amount available for equality work.

For 2001 DKK 19,5 million has also been allocated in the budget, which includes resources for all three equality institutions and DKK 1 million for supporting NGO's projects.

2. Getting ready for Gender Mainstreaming

Are national, regional and local governments or other key-players currently preparing the ground for implementing gender mainstreaming?

The Minister of Gender Equality
Mainstreaming of Equal Status work means that equality should be integrated in all decisions and initiatives - both in personnel policy and all political fields. That means
  • that equal status should be integrated in al policies, planning and administration
  • that the authorities must evaluate if an initiative, guidelines to the citizens, a law proposal or any other form of activity promotes or impedes equality, and
  • that relevant equal status matters should be made visible within all areas, even it concerns housing planning, traffic planning or choice of education.
In 2000 The Minister of Gender Equality has initiated a cross-ministerial development project on Gender Mainstreaming. The aim is to integrate the gender and equality aspect in a professional and visible way into all activities, initiatives, in legislation and all work routines. The aim is that all ministries should work with Gender Mainstreaming, but some of the ministries have been chosen as pilot projects to make a special targeted work in 2001.

A steering group has in March 2001 been established. It consists of 20 members (10 women and 10 men) - all representatives from top management from the 20 ministries. The task of the group is to exchange experiences, disseminate results, and monitor the mainstreaming process and test new ideas. Moreover, they shall discuss a model for how results can be measured and how the measured results can be included in the equal status reports, which all ministries shall deliver every second year. The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Equal Status / the Ministry of Construction and Housing is the president of the steering group.

A network of all the ministries' employees responsible for or co-ordinating the Gender Mainstreaming work of the Ministry has been established. The network is a professional forum where the employees can get knowledge and exchange experiences. The department of Equal Status is secretariat for the steering group and the network.

The specific challenges, which must be addressed on the current level of implementation of the Act, will be to join the expertise and knowledge between the equal status experts and the various ranches of governmental and public activities, as above mentioned. Secondly, the breaking down of barriers and the implementation of a new way of thinking in the public sector and administration, will be a great challenge in the first period and the years to come. Also new administrative procedures will have to be worked out, which will include the working out of action plans.
The systematic work with Gender Mainstreaming has just started. Denmark has good experiences from the are of personnel politics. This work will be continues. The challenge is now to get mainstreaming be a natural part of the authorities' administration and planning within all political areas.
The ministries - Status and plans (examples):
In all ministries equality is incorporated in the personnel policy or it is integrated in the work of equality committees. All ministries report that they have a family friendly personnel policy with the possibility of part time, flexing time, care days.

Nearly all ministries will continue to work with equal status in the personal policy, and some state institutions will work out action plans. The Minister of Gender Equality will in the years to come focus on personal policy and equal status work will be continued as part of the following up of changing of the law of equal pay, the Gender Mainstreaming principle and the reports of equal status. There will be a special focus on: personal categories, gender equal status in management, payment in the public sector in relation to the results of new pay systems for women and men, initiatives to make the work place more flexible.

In the following some examples of the ministries' activities and plans will be referred:
The Ministry of Labour
  • A pilot project on the mainstreaming principle has been initiated, and an equality unit has been established. All law proposals and existing rules are being gone through in order to evaluate gender biased consequences.
  • Equal pay is in focus. The Ministry arranged 3 conferences in 1999. In 2000 a research institute (SFI) published a project on equal pay, and the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Gender Equality have together initiated a campaign on equal pay. The development of the differences between payment to women and men will be followed, and an evaluation conference will take place by the end of 2001.
  • The National Labour Market Authority has completed a project on breaking down the gender segregated labour market where equality has been an integrated part of the companies' organisation development.
  • A working group will be established to work out the basis for gender separated statistics at the labour market. Moreover, education will be established concerning Gender Mainstreaming evaluation of law proposals and integration of the gender perspective in labour market policy. The work to secure equal pay will be prioritised, and the work to integrate a gender aspect in all new Acts will be continued.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • The Industrial Policy Report for 1998 focused on female entrepreneurs' special potentials, conditions and barriers. The background was that women accounted for only 30% of the entrepreneurs although they constitute 45% of the labour force. Women thus represent an un-utilised entrepreneurship potential, but here are a number of barriers which women find particularly difficult to overcome; barriers which are in many cases based on choice of education, family patterns and traditional gender roles. Women's contribution to the national economy could be even bigger with better framework conditions for women who wish to set up their own business.
  • The industrial policy objective is to increase the share of female entrepreneurs. In the course of 1999 the Danish Agency for Trade and Industry has implemented two major studies. These analyses deal with such matters as women's conditions, barriers, motivation, management values, needs for counselling and financing.
  • On the basis of the mainstreaming principle these analyses are to improve the framework conditions for female entrepreneurs. The analyses were published in the spring 2000.
  • The Danish Agency for Trade and Industry will continue the work in 2001 to have more women entrepreneurs in the Danish society by initiating actions concerning education, counselling, networking, etc.
The Ministry of Research
  • The Ministry of Research has in their development contracts with the universities stressed that equal status should be a special, thorough going theme and questions on equality should be included in all contracts.
  • Research Forum has agreed on an equal status policy for all the public Research Councils. It is a target that the share of the weakest represented sex in the new programme committees within the research system, and which is not covered by the new Act on Equal Status for women and men, as a average should be at least a third. Moreover, the two sexes should have equal opportunities to apply for projects and money in the entire research system.
  • The annual report form the Research Forum and the Research Councils will for the future include relevant gender divided statistics.
The Ministry of Interior
  • New guidelines for drawing up equal status reports in the municipalities were drawn up in 1999.
  • The work will be continued and strengthened.
The Ministry of Construction and Housing
  • The equality aspect will be integrated into the construction and housing policy. Projects will be initiated concerning women's and men's needs and desires for the cities, the houses, and quarters.
  • A project especially concerning ethnic women's desires to the housing surroundings will be initiated.
The Ministry of Education
  • The Ministry will strengthen education for especially men who have no further education and who have school barriers back from their school experiences and youth. More motoric aspects and workshop activities will be prioritised to comply with the unsettled boys.
  • Moreover, gender will be integrated in the pedagogic thinking in subjects such as IT.
  • In November 1997 and December 1999, the Equal Status Council published an assessment of the biannual gender equality reports, prepared by local authorities in accordance with the Local Authority Councils Act. From 1997 to 1999 the numbers of municipalities which have made a special effort to inform citizens and employees of the local gender equality policy and the status of gender equality have doubled. Many initiatives have been taken. Particular priority has been placed on recruitment of the under-represented gender; women managers; as well as on better cohesion between family life and work.
  • But here has been no progress in breaking down the gender divided labour market. Women still make up around 75% of the employees, whereas men hold more than 85% of the top management positions. A lot remains to be done by local authorities in relation to gender equality.
The Nordic Gender Mainstreaming project
Denmark has participated in a Nordic Gender Mainstreaming project initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers. In 1995 a resolution was passed to make co-operation in equality a priority in Nordic co-operation. The project, which took place from 1995 to 2000, has been concluded and reported in 2000. The Nordic Gender Mainstreaming project was carried out at two levels - national and Nordic. At the national level the project was implemented in employment and youth policy. The Danish project took place in the Municipality of Ringsted, an organisation with 2,400 employees who serve the 30,000 citizens living in the municipality. The aim of the project was to integrate a gender perspective when hiring people to work and to change the unequal balances. More reports have been published.

At the Nordic level a project was initiated to eliminate the imbalance between the sexes and to integrate gender equality in all the activities of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Guidelines for methods, tools and timing for the integration of gender equality perspectives in daily work, in relation to specific areas of co-operation and staff services, within the joint Nordic Institutions and in Nordic grants and support programmes have been worked out.

In November 2000 the Nordic Council of Ministers with Denmark as Chair arranged jointly with the OECD a ministerial level conference in Paris on "Gender Mainstreaming - Competitiveness & Growth". At this conference Gender Mainstreaming was put on the international agenda in an economic perspective. For further information:

Dissemination of information and debate
The collection and building of knowledge in Denmark - and dissemination of this knowledge - is also very important in the Gender Mainstreaming process. Since 1979 Denmark has a Centre for Information on Women and Gender, which gives information on women's and gender studies, researchers and research centres in Denmark. - As part of the new strengthening of "the mechanism" a new independent "Centre of Knowledge for Equal Status" (Videnscenter for Ligestilling) has been established in 2001 to support the Gender Mainstreaming process. Contact
Awareness raising events and publications by governments, equality infrastructures, women's NGOs, trade unions etc. The Minister of Gender Equality has arranged more conferences on Gender Mainstreaming in 2000, also for young people. Reports have been published from these conferences. Moreover, she has been very active in taking part in different arrangements throughout the country; writing articles in newspapers; and giving interviews to the media.

The new "Knowledge Centre for Equal Status" will arrange conferences and debate meetings, and a "Debate Forum" will be established to raise awareness on Gender Mainstreaming and equality questions, and to change attitudes.

Also NGO's (for instance The Women's Council in Denmark, The Danish Women's Society, and Masculine Forum of Denmark) and trade unions (for instance LO, KAD and HK) have Gender Mainstreaming on the agenda at meetings and conferences - and they take an active part in the public debate.
Training targeted at various actors organised by governments, equality infrastructures etc. In October 1999, the Equal Status Council together with the National Association of Local Authorities in Denmark, and the Association of County Councils in Denmark arranged a course on gender equality. The target group was politicians, managers and employees working with personal administration in counties and municipalities.

The Minister of Gender Equality is in 2001 about to establish education and training for staff to qualify to work with gender issues, and different branches and sections within the Danish trade unions and municipalities have already started and planned for such actions.

In 2001 a common Nordic education will be established, based on the experience of the Nordic Gender Mainstreaming programmes, mentioned above.
Research and study There are different research projects and studies in the field of Gender Mainstreaming. Contact
Information and funding of women's NGOs in a perspective of making them key-actors in the process of gender mainstreaming. There is a long tradition that women's NGO's are key-actors in the process of equal status work and Gender Mainstreaming. That is especially true for The National Council of Women in Denmark (the umbrella organisation for 49 women's organisations, The Danish Women's Society, and The Masculine Forum of Denmark. These Egos act as both watchdogs of public initiatives and as active participants in the process of achieving gender equality, including the dissemination of knowledge.

Co-operating with NGO's is a priority for the Danish government. They are represented in the official equality mechanisms, and they participate in the Danish governmental delegations at for instance UN conferences.
Other The Minister of Gender Equality will implement the new Equal Status Act and will support the three, new equality institutions. The Minister and these three institutions will currently watch the state of equality and also the gender composition in public committees and boards. Guidelines concerning the set of rules in this area will be worked out.

3. Gender mainstreaming targeted explicitly at women in decision-making

Besides getting an overview of the broad-based approaches to gender mainstreaming it is important to track information that is particularly relevant to current and future aims of the WID project. The following points reach beyond women's participation in the political arena.

Tackling gender gaps in decision-making - in both the political arena and in economic and cultural life - as priority in the (already mentioned eventually existing) national action plan for gender mainstreaming Denmark has had two Acts (from 1985 and 1990) influencing the appointment of women to councils, commissions, committees and boards, established at the central or local level in order to advise ministers, mayors, and their administration. When nominating candidates, both a woman and a man must be proposed. In special cases, when it is clearly unreasonable to expect these requirements to be fulfilled, an exemption may be granted.

The Danish legislation in this field has actively influenced the appointment of women, but statistics show that women are still a minority at decision-makings posts, and they are still a minority as members of secretariats of the various bodies and as chairpersons. In order to improve the situation some ministers have refused to appoint members from the organisations until they have nominated an equal number of women and men. Other ministers have shortened the appointment period to put pressure on the organisations.

With the New Equal Status Act of May 2000 Denmark has got a tightening of the formulation in the above mentioned two Acts. Now public committees and boards "ought to have an equal participation of women and men" - and not only "as far as possible have a balanced participation of women and men".

The need for this tightening of the legislation is stressed by the fact that from 1987 to 1999 the share of women in public committees only has increased from 38% to 39%. In the public boards the share of women has only increased from 24% to 27%.

An equal share of the two genders is important for democracy. The Minister of Gender Equality will make this area a priority, and she will watch the development of women's share in public committees and boards.
Vertical desegregation of the labour market (i.e. enhancing women's access to senior management and decision-making levels) as a priority among measures described under pillar 4 of your country's National Action Plan for Employment (NAP)'. Even after 25 years with the Equal Pay Act, it is still a fact that there is not equal pay in Denmark for women and men. There is a pay difference between women and men of 12% in the private sector - a difference, which cannot be explained by women and men's different education, position, seniority, etc. In the public sector the difference, however, is only 1½-2%.
The inequality in payment creates unequal economical and social conditions for women and men in daily life, but also seen in a life perspective. Lower payment in a life span results in lower pensions.

During the autumn of 1999 the Ministry of Labour has held three conferences on the segregated labour market, which have, among other things, focused on sectors with a relative strong increase in the share of women. As a follow-up to these conferences, a project has been initiated concerning job assessment in order to identify the factors, which are of importance for the determination of wages. The decentralised wage determination system introduced in the public sector is also closely monitored.

In spring 2001, The Minister for Equal Status has together with the Minister of Employment started a campaign on equal pay. More activities will be initiated during 2001.

Even if there only are modest differences in the wages of women and men in the state sector, the state sector is still highly segregated. Men account for more than 80% of the employees in 38% of all occupational categories in the state. Women account for more than 80% in 13% of all occupational categories. And women are still a minority in many power and decision-making positions - especially in the private sector. Women still have particular problems in career advancement. That is why it is still important to give particular attention to obstacles which hinder women become managers. More women are needed at decision-making posts in every sector of the Danish society.
Strategies and measures targeted at vertical desegregation in the Community Support Frameworks and Operational Programmes for the new Funding Period (2000-2006) of the European Structural Funds². The work follows the principles stated above.
Gender balance in the Monitoring Committees of the Structural Funds. The work follows the principles stated above.

'NAPs can be found on the Europa Server at the website of the DG Employment & Social Affairs Search for European Employment Strategy.
²In most Member States these can be obtained from the Ministry for Economic Affairs (ERDF), the Ministry of Labour (ESF) and the Ministry for Agriculture (EAGGF).

The specific challenges, which must be addressed on the current level of implementation of the Equal Status Act, will be to join the expertise and knowledge between the equal status experts and the various branches of governmental and public activities, as above mentioned. Secondly the breaking down of barriers and the implementation of a new way of thinking in the public sector and administration, will be a great challenge in the first period and the years to come. Also new administrative procedures will have to be worked out, which will include the working out of action plans in the ministries, municipalities, and public institutions.

The Minister for Gender Equality stated in her report in March 2001 to the Parliament that if we shall obtain positive results from Gender Mainstreaming, then:

  • The managers must lead the way, and it should be clear who is responsible for the work.
  • Targets must be made so that it is clear how progress can be measured.
  • Mainstreaming is development work. That is why resources should be prioritised and the work should be paid attention.
  • The work shall build on professional skills and knowledge on gender and equal status.
  • The basis of data should be sufficient, and all statistics will have to be gender divided.
  • Tasks should be prioritised to secure that results are achieved.
It is for sure that the mainstreaming strategy still needs further development and understanding on how to operate in practice. Moreover, additional methods to mainstream gender are still needed.

Contact the Minister's Department:

Please find enclosed

  • The New Equal Status Act, Law no. 388 of 30.05.2000.
  • The report together with the Perspective Plan and Action Plan, delivered by the Minister for Gender Equality to the Parliament on 2.3.2001 ("Ligestilling - en forudsætning for velfærd, bæredygtighed og demokrati").

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