In this section, we focus in particular on the issues of partnership and reinforcement of administrative capacity. As far as the Performance Framework is concerned, issues around setting objectives, indicators and milestones are covered in the section on objectives.
The Common Provisions Regulation (article 5) establishes the need to set up a partnership to elaborate the Partnership Agreement and each Operational Programme. The partners must be involved in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes, in addition to participating in the Monitoring Committees (article 48). The Regulation specifies that the partnership must include bodies responsible for promoting equality (between women and men) and non-discrimination.
The partners are key actors in terms of ensuring the integration of a gender perspective, and it is essential to pay attention to two elements in particular:
- Ensuring that gender equality specialists are included among the partners;
- Raising awareness about gender equality and means of gender mainstreaming and specific actions among all partners.
Involvement of gender specialists
National gender equality bodies must be part of the partnership and be involved, from an early stage, in the drafting of the Partnership Agreement. In addition, bodies representing civil society such as relevant women’s NGOs should be part of partnerships and be consulted throughout the process of drafting, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the Agreement and Operational Programmes.
The composition of the partnership should also ensure the participation of other gender experts and/or support structures with the necessary gender competences. Such experts could include academic specialists on gender equality, or evaluators with experience of assessing gender equality.
The role of gender experts on the Monitoring Committees is particularly crucial in reviewing annual implementation and progress reports, and providing recommendations for future improvements and actions. They ensure that gender equality is an ongoing focus in Monitoring Committee discussions. Together with the Managing Authority they ensure that all other members of the monitoring committee and evaluators provide an update at each meeting on progress and gender issues arising from the emerging results of the programmes.
Mobilising all partners to promote gender equality
Experience has shown that involving gender equality specialists or gender equality support structures is valuable, but is not sufficient for ensuring gender mainstreaming in ESF and other Structural Fund programmes. To make a real difference, all key stakeholders must be mobilised to promote gender equality.
In order to ensure that all key actors are mobilised requires developing the following skills:
- An understanding of the nature of gender inequalities and their negative impact on society and the economy;
- Awareness of the role which effective programme implementation can play in ensuring better gender equality;
- Knowledge about concrete actions which can be undertaken to ensure gender mainstreaming at all stages of the Operational Programme andimplementation processes;
This knowledge and change in behaviour can be brought about by a variety of means including:
- Training including awareness-raising sessions with gender equality experts;
- Guidelines or guidebooks;
- Providing data (statistics);
- Providing examples of good practice (from other Member States, regions, projects, Operational Programmes);
- Clear specifications from the most senior level of management, with a requirement to provide feedback on this issue at regular intervals.
Reinforcing administrative capacity
Experience shows that reinforcing a Member State’s administrative capacity must also cover the areas of gender competence and gender equality management. The implementation of the principle of gender equality is part of the administrative capacity of the actors involved in the managing of the Funds. Thus, the assessment of a Member State’s administrative capacity (as required in the Partnership Agreement) must include an analysis of the state of the art of gender competence amongst these authorities and beneficiaries and also an assessment of needs with regard to implementing such principle.
To improve gender competences, the Operational Programme strategy needs to include a capacity-building plan for the programme managers and the members of the programme Monitoring Committee. Reinforcement of the administrative capacity also takes the form of creating the necessary support structures for implementing the programme’s gender equality strategy, which can then support project managers.
German national ESF Op 2014 – 2020