Gender equality is one of the EU policy fields with the longest history. While this does not mean that all policy areas today have a clear gender perspective, the issue of equality between women and men has been on the agenda since the late 1950s.
The EU has clearly recognized the benefits of the dual gender equality approach, and all EU-funded policies, actions and programmes accordingly must include a gender perspective. In addition, due to the crucial importance of gender equality in the fields covered by the ESF, further provisions are introduced by the ESF regulations (for example article 7).
Gender mainstreaming is therefore not an option, but an obligation.
Gender equality is usually described as a “fundamental right, a common value of the EU, and a necessary condition for the achievement of the EU objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion” (European Commission).