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In the course of planning the implementation, the proposed course of action must be reviewed with regard to possible gender effects, and the target groups should be analysed by gender.

This will ensure that potential projects in the next cycle do not perpetuate existing gender gaps, but instead achieve the gender equality objectives of the programme. Designing and implementing an ESF programme means following different working procedures and documents.

All documents and procedures must include requirements for project promoters concerning how to integrate gender mainstreaming and potentially positive actions into all steps of project analysis, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Documents for public information, directives and guidelines for promoters, calls for project proposals and tendering documents

These documents, especially calls for proposals or tendering documents contain information relevant for project promoters on the background and context of the implementation strategies, the programme analysis, objectives and subject-matter of the funding, details of different actions or measures in the area of intervention, promoters eligible for funding, financial requirements, selection procedures and criteria for projects.

Gender equality requirements must be clearly integrated into all categories and chapters of the documents – from analysis to evaluation – and not only mentioned in a separate gender equality article or a statement like “the transversal objective of gender equality has to be taken into account”. This means that the calls or tendering documents need to contain

  • an analysis of the problem to be tackled from a gender perspective,
  • objectives taking into account gender differences, inequalities and discrimination and their causes regarding women and men in their diversities but also in terms of structures and cultures,
  • gender adequate implementation strategies based on the objectives set,
  • as well as gender sensitive monitoring and evaluation approaches.

On the basis of such calls or tenders promoters will understand that the integration of the gender dimension into all aspects of their project is obligatory and that they must come up with a project-related gender equality implementation strategy and explain how and why gender mainstreaming and positive actions will be realized in the project – all the way from planning to evaluation.

On the basis of such calls or tenders promoters will understand that the integration of the gender dimension into all aspects of their project is obligatory and that they must come up with a project-related gender equality implementation strategy and explain how and why gender mainstreaming and positive actions will be realized in the project – all the way from planning to evaluation.

Application forms

Generally, all categories and questions in the application form must be formulated in a way that helps promoters to answer from a gender perspective.

Explanations of the different categories contain hints and requirements, e.g. that there is no such thing as gender neutrality, or that it is not sufficient to write about gender equality and the dual approach of the project in a “gender chapter”, but the gender dimension must be integrated into all answers to all categories of questions.

Most frequently used categories:

  1. Description of applicant organization including for example:
    • gender equality mission statement within the corporate identity or culture of the organization
    • gender competencies within the organisational structure  such as persons responsible for gender equality and outside expertise
    • situation of men and women in the company such as women and men in different levels of the hierarchy, in different categories and jobs, with different qualifications or  working time)
    • gender equality being integrated into quality management and certification of the organisation
    • gender equality human-resource policies such as in recruitment, training and development, knowledge and competence management
    • personnel resources and competencies  within the project team
  2. If appropriate, description of external support or capacity-building for staff  in order to meet gender equality requirements of the programme;
  3. Gender analysis of the problem or issue being tackled by the project using gender-disaggregated data and findings from research. The analysis also describes causes of gender inequalities and strategies for how the project aims to overcome them;
  4. Description of target groups of the project by sex and diversity dimensions;
  5. Objectives and indicators from a gender perspective: specific gender equality objectives and indicators and analysis of all thematic objectives/indicators from a gender perspective;
  6. Description of actions to promote gender equality in the project (gender mainstreaming approach and/or positive action approach);
  7. Necessary framework conditions such as, for instance, financing of participants; funding for capacity building on gender equality for the project staff; place and time of the project activities etc;
  8. Public relations/dissemination – the project should be designed in such a way as to address women and men in their diversity to make sure that there is information related to the different situations of women and men in their diversity and equal or different access to the project;
  9. Monitoring – use of gender disaggregated data and gender budgeting data to assess  the project against objectives and measure progress with respect to indicators;
  10. Evaluation – use of a gender equality approach in internal or external evaluation of the project and description of how to evaluate thematic and structural aspects of gender equality within the project (e.g. strategy, methods and instruments) or elaborating on gender equality aspects in tendering the evaluation;
  11. Financial resources – such as budget for the implementation of gender equality or for capacity building on gender equality.
  12. Gender budgeting approach – steering the project through on-going gender budgeting, monitoring and evaluation;
  13. Sustainability – description of the involvement of relevant actors and institutions into project activities to make sure that the gender equality dimension is transferred to the mainstream after the conclusion of the project.

Good practice

The German Agency for Gender Equality in the ESF, in terms of procedures and thematic issues, and Swedish project support structure (ESF Jämt) giving advice to project promoters already before they apply for ESF funding.

Project selection criteria

Projects are selected through assessment of the answers to questions/categories on the application form. The selection criteria pertaining to an integrated gender equality approach must be transparent and clearly set out in all application materials. It must be clearly stated that the answers to all questions have to include a gender perspective, and the consequences of failing to include the gender dimension need to be explained.

Good practice: The “minimum standard” of the Polish ESF programme (2007-2013)

(see illustration below)

The Polish ESF programme (2007-2013) has embedded gender equality into the programme delivery system through asking the following questions in the project selection process.

Project promoters have to answer at least two categories of questions positively (“yes”) – otherwise the project application would be rejected.

Main advantages:

  • The Polish “minimum standard” forces applicants as well as the funding body to think about the principle of gender equality in the context of the whole project;
  • Wider discussion on the ”minimum standard” and the principles of gender equality  in general such as presence of the issue in media and national policies;
  • Raising awareness of the principle of gender equality and policy design in general;
  • Improving the quality of initiatives financed by the ESF.


Project selection

Before the assessment takes place, all internal or external assessors shall be informed, trained or coached on how to assess the applications with regard to gender equality. All application categories and corresponding project descriptions must be assessed from a gender perspective. Project assessment teams  need to be composed of female and male experts with gender/ESF competence.

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Created: 2013/01/10   Changed: 2014/12/05