Article 87 of the Common Provisions Regulation specifies that each Partnership Agreement should set out arrangements to ensure alignment with the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including:
- An analysis of disparities and development needs with reference to the thematic objectives and key actions defined in the Common Strategic Framework and the targets set in the country-specific recommendations under Article 121(2) of the Treaty and the relevant Council recommendations adopted under Article 148(4) of the Treaty;
- A summary analysis of the ex ante evaluations of the programmes justifying the selection of the thematic objectives and the indicative allocations of the CSF Funds.
As set out in Article 87 of the Common Provisions Regulation, each Operational programme must set out a strategy for its contribution to the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including:
- An identification of needs addressing the challenges identified in the country-specific recommendations under Article 121(2) and the Council recommendations adopted under Article 148(4) of the Treaty, and taking into account the Integrated Guidelines and national and regional specificities;
- A justification of the choice of thematic objectives and corresponding investment priorities, having regard to the Partnership Contract and the results of the ex ante evaluation.
In order to identify these disparities and needs, as well as justify choices made, each Operational Programme is based on an ex-ante socio-economic analysis (SEA) of the geographical area or sector of intervention, specifically an analysis related to the thematic objectives supported by the programme. SEAs also feed into the justification for choices made in Partnership Agreements. In order for such analysis to be accurate and comprehensive with regard to the situation of women and men affected by the programme, it must be carried out with a gender perspective.
Traditionally, the SEAs of ESF Operational Programmes have addressed gender issues more than other Funds. However, interventions related to infrastructure, investments or specific economic sectors (fisheries, agriculture, etc.) are also gender relevant since they also affect the lives of women and men.
In order to perform a SEA from a gender perspective, it is essential to:
- Always gather gender-disaggregated data for all indicators in order for the differences between women and men to be evident;
- Establish gender indicators for analysing existing gender gaps and inequalities between women and men;
- Analyse the causes of the differences and inequalities pointed out by the indicators, as well as their effects.
A good SEA conducted from a gender perspective is a pre-condition for setting gender equality objectives and result indicators and for setting up a good strategy of intervention.
Gender competence and gender expertise are needed to perform a SEA from a gender perspective. Gender equality support structures or gender equality bodies can provide a learning environment, guidelines and orientation. If the SEA is to be contracted and delivered by a third party, the contracting requirements must include the necessary skills and experience in doing gender analysis.
Requirements for the SEA
- Gender differences and discrimination are not only identified but their underlying roots and causes are uncovered (using research from the various fields of intervention) which is a pre-condition for setting gender equality objectives for a policy programme or action plan;
- The analysis does not only cover gender aspects (e.g. concerning economic growth, innovation, social inclusion, or employment) but also evaluates the gender aspects within structures and procedures of cohesion policy (e.g. budget issues, decision making procedures, etc).
A gender sensitive SEA needs to:
- Integrate gender as a guiding question at all stages of analysis rather than merely adding a “gender chapter”;
- Assess the different impacts of policies on women and men in their diversity in each part of the analysis;
- Assess the different economic circumstances and social realities of women and men (e.g. effects of crises on women and men, influence of access to resources, influence of share of paid and unpaid work, or feminization of poverty);
- Examine the degree to which the common gender equality objectives of the EU and National gender equality objectives have been met and what factors hinder progress.
This example is not related to gender equality but anti-discrimination. However it can serve as an example of a thorough and consequent analysis. In the Spanish Multi-regional Programme Fighting against Discrimination of the period 2007–2013, the SEA uses gender-disaggregated data throughout and includes gender indicators.
Because of the nature of the programme, it focuses on different causes of discrimination and inequality in the labour market, and views gender discrimination as transversal to other forms of discrimination, such as that based on origin or ethnic migration, age, disability or sexual orientation (amongst others). The SEA accordingly assesses how these various forms of discrimination differently affect women and men. The analysis concludes with a specific section on equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market, including the main threats to the full participation of women in the labour market and the opportunities to improve it.