United Kingdom


Gender Mainstreaming



The Team




[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Sept 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Gender Mainstreaming Strategies in United Kingdom

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:

Official name of plan in original language UK Action Plan
Date when plan was presented and launched May 2000 - updated every year
Essential objectives and features Reducing the unemployment rate of women; increasing the activity rate of women; de-segregation of the labour market; raising skills ; reducing social exclusion.
Quantitative goals and timetables Annual review
Allocated budget Appropriate budgets for specific programmes

2. Getting ready for Gender Mainstreaming

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

If you see indications in your country, please elaborate.


Awareness raising events and publications by governments, equality infrastructures, women's NGOs, trade unions etc. The Women's Unit (part of the Cabinet Office) has an overview of initiatives and is evaluating the Gender Impact Assessment Tool which is being piloted in key government departments. It helps officials to help officials compare the differential impact of their policies and service delivery on women and men Each government department has a responsibility for implementing gender mainstreaming. The Women's National Commission ( NGOs) addresses this aspect of policies. The Scottish Executive has developed and publicised a Toolkit for Mainstreaming with practical strategies for implementation. The London Borough of Lewisham, as part of the 4th Action Programme has developed a toolkit for Effective Local Partnerships to implement gender mainstreaming. The Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality have taken the lead on strategies and support advice. The Department of Education and Employment is the department with responsibility for sex equality and disability legislation.
Training targeted at various actors organised by governments, equality infrastructures etc. Each Regional Development Authority is required to have a policy and strategy for equality and to develop programmes to support this. Their policies and outcomes are monitored centrally annually.
This may lead them to organise training and awareness raising. The Equal Opportunities Commission does not instigate training, but supports initiatives which may have that element, such as the Fair Play initiative, a regional approach to equality needs in that region.
Research and study The Women's Unit and the Department of Education and Employment do research and commissions studies on gender issues. Various university departments also research this, such as the University of Westminster, the University of Humberside and Lincolnshire, and the University of Sussex.
Information and funding of women's NGOs in a perspective of making them key-actors in the process of gender mainstreaming. The Women's National Commission is government funded with the brief to advise the Government on women's issues, including gender mainstreaming. NGOs in general try to monitor this, but are not funded to do so. The Fawcett society with the aim of promoting equality between women and men particularly researches and raises awareness of women in political decision-making.
Other The Wales Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have made particular progress in achieving gender equality in representation by specific methods of selecting candidates.

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. Please try to cover them as far as possible considering questions such as:
  • Are the relevant strategies including timetables and quantitative goals?
  • What are the concrete measures to reach them?
  • Who are the major players to take action?
  • What are the relevant monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to be applied?
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. There are many organisations tackling gender gaps in economic and social spheres, from NGOs to the Institute for Personnel Development. Women NGOs network to offer support for women who are in decision-making positions. Many professional bodies have a women's wing, emphasising the need for such initiatives. The Fair Play Consortia focus on access to economic decision-making and employment initiatives. There is a strong awareness in the country of the need to improve the situation, but very little in the way of co-ordinated strategy and activity. The employer-led organisation Opportunity Now has benchmarked this aspect, but does not enforce it, or censure member organisations which do not fully comply.
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)'. While the Civil Service has made great efforts to overcome the de-segregation of the labour market, and the Government has a policy of greater representation of women and minority ethnic groups on other decision-making bodies, and this is monitored annually, the improvement is slow. A more rapid increase in the number of women in senior positions in industry would require potentially require the setting of quotas, which would not be supported by Government and industry.Targets are acceptable, but not quotas.

'NAPs can be found on the Europa Server at the website of the DG Employment & Social Affairs (www.europa.eu.int.) Search for European Employment Strategy.

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