Gender Mainstreaming

Equal treatment of both sexes and the right to equal participation in all spheres of life are fundamental human rights. A key condition for putting democracy into practice is that all members of society - women and men - must have the same opportunities to participate in all spheres of political, economic, social, and cultural life. Not until de facto equality of women and men has become reality will it be possible to reconcile job and family and/or private life.

Conceptual framework

In many ways, equality of women and men signifies both better quality of life and more freedom in decision-making as well as scope for choosing individual life-styles.

Gender mainstreaming is the (re) organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated at all levels and at all stages by the actors normally involved in policy-making. (Definition by the Council of Europe, Strasbourg 1998).

Gender mainstreaming is relevant to all aspects of policy-making. The objective is to take account of the characteristics, interests and moral concepts of both sexes when designing political strategies. Every political approach has to be screened for the impact of planned or implemented policies on the aim of achieving equality of women and men.


Explicit political will at the top level is a necessary basis for gender mainstreaming. Thus, when institutionalising gender mainstreaming, it is advisable to opt for the top-down approach, since anchoring equality of women and men as an overarching principle in all areas depends largely on the will of the leadership. Three cabinet decisions provide the basis for implementing gender mainstreaming at the federal level:

  • To start with, the Inter-ministerial Working Group for Gender Mainstreaming (IMAG GM) was set up by the cabinet decision of 11 July 2000, for the purpose of implementing gender mainstreaming at the federal level.
  • Based on the recommendations of the IMAG GM, the federal government took a cabinet decision on 3 April 2002, on a work programme for the implementation of gender mainstreaming for the years to come.
  • The third cabinet decision on gender mainstreaming, of 9 March 2004, followed up the previous decisions and set out the requirements for a targeted implementation of gender mainstreaming at federal level.
  • With the cabinet decision of 5 March 2008 the use of the 2 guidelines, which were commissioned by the Minister for Women, in the drafting of laws and regulations and in budget drafting, was reaffirmed.

Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming in Legislation

The main purpose of gender mainstreaming in legislation is to ensure that legal norms will not exacerbate let alone provoke gender-specific discrimination, since laws and regulations are not gender neutral. Hence, one and the same regulation may impact differently on the 2 sexes.

Laws are supposed to achieve exactly what they are intended for, and should moreover be accepted by those concerned while entailing little expenditure. With a view to achieving these goals, laws and regulations need to be systematically screened for their gender-related impact already at the initial drafting stage. In the course of such screenings the consequences and side effects of planned legal norms can be pinpointed and rectified and/or avoided.

The Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming in Legislation provide users at federal, laender and municipal level with practice-oriented proposals on how to achieve the goals set. The Guidelines are supplemented by a checklist and a catalogue of questions.

Guidance Gender Budgeting in Public Administration

Full gender equality postulates that women and men are equally able to benefit from the goods, resources and opportunities provided by society. Among the available resources are the public budgets of the federation, the states (laender), and the municipalities, which impact directly on society and the economy in the form of policies translated into figures.

In order to enable women and men to share all financial and material resources of the state in a more equitable way, it is necessary to conduct gender-specific budget analyses. This is where gender budgeting comes in.

To assist in the practical application of gender budgeting in public administration, this Guidance will help identify discrepancies in the impact of public revenue and expenditure on women and men. The objective is to pinpoint implications for gender relations, to shift priorities and to redistribute resources. The ultimate goal is to develop a gender-sensitive and gender-equitable budget.

The present Guidance is designed to foster the targeted and efficient implementation of gender budgeting in public administration. It is primarily addressed to the budget developers in individual ministries and also to those responsible for drawing up inter-ministerial budgets.


Guidance Gender Budgeting in Public Administration (PDF, 334 KB)

Further information (in German)