The ESF implementation cycle comprises the translation of programming documents (e.g. MS National Reform Programme and EU KOM recommendations on National Reform Programmes, the Partnership Agreement, and, most importantly, the Operational Programme) into implementation-shaping strategies, as well as of objectives set out in the documents of the National Policy cycle into activities funded under the chosen ESF thematic objectives, investment priorities and specific objectives.
The steps of the implementation cycle are developed by extrapolating structural and thematic gender equality requirements from National Reform Programmes (NRP), Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes (OP), as well as from the European Gender Equality Strategy and the Gender Equality Pact of the Council.
The implementation cycle starts with an analysis of the area of intervention (thematic issues or policy areas). This analysis incorporates a coherent gender mainstreaming perspective based on a gender analysis or a gender impact assessment that takes into account the differences, inequalities or gender gaps between women and men in their diversity.
Based on the results of the analysis the objectives are formulated and integrate a quantitative and qualitative gender equality dimension. The main gender gaps and causes for inequalities between women and men within the thematic issues identified in the analysis must be mirrored by the objectives, and mapped for consistency against the relevant objectives of the Gender Equality Strategy/the Gender Equality Pact of the EU (e.g. economic independence of women and men).
The implementation of a programme, an action plan or a thematic priority covers steps and procedures like designing programme information for the public or potential project promoters, directives and guidelines, and tendering documents for project applications, application forms, project selection criteria and project selection. All steps, documents and procedures must include requirements for project promoters concerning how to integrate gender mainstreaming and specific actions into all steps of analysis, the setting of objectives and indicators, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project cycle.
The monitoring system and requirements decided upon within the Operational Programme cycle will ensure that all programme-related indicators are assessed against the gender equality objectives set for the programme or action plan.
The evaluation of a programme, action plan or thematic priority integrates the gender dimension at all stages and in relation to all thematic issues, and assesses the implementation of gender mainstreaming as well as of positive actions and the programme’s contribution to realizing gender equality in terms of outputs, results and impacts.