The Common Provisions Regulation (article 24.4) specifies that each programme must set out a strategy for the programme’s contribution to the Union strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth consistent with the Common Strategic Framework and Partnership Agreement.
The programme’s strategy serves as the justification of the selection of priority axes, thematic objectives and investment priorities. There must be consistency between the needs identified in the analysis phase (Socio economic analysis and the SWOT analysis), including the gender equality needs, and the proposed intervention. The objectives are established on the basis of the overall strategy.
The Common Provisions Regulation (article 24.4) indicates that, when setting up the strategy, each programme must include a description of the actions to take into account the principle of the promotion of equality between men and women and non-discrimination (as set out in Article 7). The strategy has to address how to implement the dual approach to gender equality, i.e. both the implementation of specific actions targeting women or men and gender mainstreaming. As such, it must address:
- The gender gaps identified in relation to the selected thematic objectives and investment priorities, which can be addressed through specific actions targeting women and men to counterbalance those gender gaps;
- The implementation of the horizontal principle of equality between women and men, particularly addressed in the procedures and the thematic priorities related to the management of the Operational programme.
Implementing gender equality as a horizontal principle
- The strategy must describe how to bring gender expertise into programme management by:
a/ Capacity building of CSF Fund managers (through a Capacity Building Plan)
b/ Associating gender experts and the guidance and support provided by gender equality support structures or bodies;
- ESI Funds should have support structures for delivering the gender equality strategy of the Operational Programme. Technical assistance can be used for funding such support;
- As set out in the draft Common Provisions Regulation (article 87.3), Member States must submit an opinion of the national equality bodies on the measures taken to promote gender equality and non-discrimination.
Based on a sound gender-based Socio economic analysis and the SWOT analysis, the Partnership Agreement and Operational Programmes set the main objectives to be pursued at national and regional level. These objectives will determine the priorities and allocation of resources by ESI Funds for the programming period 2014-2020. It is essential therefore that the gender perspective is integrated into these concrete goals and objectives.
In the event that European or national targets for implementing the Cohesion Policy are not gender sensitive, programming instruments at national/regional level can allow for the introduction of gender equality objectives at an early stage before implementation occurs.
Regarding objectives, it is essential that:
- Specific objectives are set that reflect specific gender inequalities identified in the socio-economic analysis. For example: “Increasing the level of women’s employment in the ICT sector”;
- All objectives are reviewed from a gender perspective. In particular, it is important to consider:
- Whether there is a gender dimension which needs to be taken into account. The objective may incorrectly be assumed to be “gender neutral”.
- Whether the objective may even reinforce gender inequalities. For example, a measure promoting work-life balance which only targets women may reinforce stereotypes about gender roles in society.
Verifiable and transparent milestones should be set for measuring the progress towards specific objectives in the performance frameworks, including gender objectives.
The main objectives of the programme have associated indicators for measuring performance and progress. Article 24.3 of the Common Provisions Regulation (COM(2011) 615 final/2) specifies 3 types of indicators:
- Financial indicators relating to expenditure allocated;
- Output indicators relating to operations supported;
- Result indicators relating to priorities.
Also, each Fund’s specific Regulation sets common indicators and may provide for establishing programme-specific indicators.
Each indicator related to programme beneficiaries must always be disaggregated by sex, as specified for example in the annex on common output and result indicators for ESF investments to the ESF Regulation (COM(2011) 607 final): “All data are to be broken down by gender”.
It is not sufficient to simply measure the total number of male and female beneficiaries. In addition, it is important to differentiate on finer criteria by sex, for example beneficiaries’ work situation (number of unemployed/employed men and women) or education (number of low/medium/high-skilled men and women).
There needs to be at least one gender sensitive indicator for each of the three types of indicators specified in the Regulation. Hence, there needs to be:
- A gender sensitive financial indicator that will measure the expenditure allocated for promoting gender equality (the expenditure allocated for both specific actions for women and men as well as gender mainstreaming);
- At least one gender indicator amongst the output indicators to measure, for example, whether the participation of women and men redresses to the gender gaps identified;
A gender indicator related to the results to measure whether gender equality is being promoted or if the intervention is deepening gender inequality and thus is not complying with Article 7 of the Common Provisions Regulation.