In practice, gender equality throuh gender mainstreaming requires all actors involved in ESF policy-making to integrate gender equality concerns into all aspects of their work.
This means that decision makers, public officials and practitioners must learn to analyse, and thereby become aware of, the mechanisms that produce and reproduce inequalities in their particular field, and that they must possess the competencies and skills (or employ external expertise) to modify policies and interventions accordingly.
This Standard is intended for ESF actors who work within any of the different cycles of concrete ESF planning, programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation at the EU, national, regional and local levels. The intended users may be ESF policy-officers, programme managers, ESF monitoring committee members, project promoters, intermediate bodies or consultants working on ESF.
Gender equality and the dual gender equality approach means ensuring that all the key stakeholders of ESF policy-making and implementation integrate a gender perspective into their day-to-day work. In order for this to be possible, however, management must take responsibility and lead from the top.
Currently, there is a substantial implementation gap regarding gender mainstreaming in many Member States. Many ESF objectives are seen as gender-neutral. Clear and coherent strategic links from policy planning (analysis, objectives and targets) through to implementation, monitoring and evaluation are lacking, as are mechanisms to ensure sustainability.
In addition, there is often no permanent structure to support this process and there are no strategies for how to accomplish it in reality. This is coupled with a lack of understanding and know-how. Gender mainstreaming needs clarity, commitment, steering, support, monitoring, guidance and resources.
Capacity building is therefore a crucial aspect.