NIRAS experts worked with the Institute to develop an innovative step-by-step guide to assist EU managing authorities in taking gender equality perspectives on board in EU funds programming.
The culmination of year’s work, the European Institute for Gender Quality (EIGE) recently published its long-awaited toolkit to enable gender budgeting in the 2021-2027 EU structural funds. NIRAS collaborated with EIGE in the development of the online guide, which is targeted mostly at civil servants and managers involved in EU funds programming at the national and sub-national levels. This interesting assignment gave us in-depth knowledge of programming cycles within EU.
NIRAS brought its rich experience in mainstreaming gender in budgetary processes to the project. Since 2013, we have been implementing the Sida-funded gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) project in Ukraine, the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.
The European structural and investment (ESI) funds are comprised of five individual funds, which distribute about 45% of the total EU budget:
These funds operate in service of the EU’s common goals of creating a Europe that is more innovative with smarter economic transformation, greener, more connected in terms of mobility and ICT, offers strong social protections, and is closer to its citizens – the sustainable, integrated development of urban, rural and coastal areas through local initiatives.
In applying a gender budgeting approach – which involves gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process, and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality – the EU wants to ensure that ESI funds reach women and men equally. Gender budgeting also contributes to better planning, implementing and monitoring, and EU Funds’ projects will be more enhanced through better targeting and more effective achievement of overall goals and objectives.
In line with the EU Treaty, the European Parliament and Council of Europe have repeatedly called on the Member States to develop and implement gender budgeting, with slightly diverse results. Our work assessed that less than 1% of the planned ESI budgets for 2014-2020 were directly allocated to measures that focused on gender equality. Only about 24% of budgets were allocated to interventions that may promote gender equality due to their direct impact at the individual level. Thus progress on gender mainstreaming across the Member States continues to be patchy.
The toolkit is practically designed and includes 11 learning tools with case studies and videos that cover all programming steps. Each target group is guided to when and where it could apply gender budgeting tools in the EU Funds process. By clicking on the relevant step of the process, the user has access to a variety of tools and promising practices from different Member States on how the tools can be applied. Although the tools are based on the ESI funds framework, they can be used as guidance for countries outside EU. For example, two tools in particular can provide inspiration:
The toolkit constitutes an integral part of EIGE’s gender mainstreaming platform and can be found on the Institute’s website. It is available in all EU languages and both as an online and PDF document.
In addition to the toolkit, the EIGE has published another related work that NIRAS was involved in producing, namely a Model on Advancing Work–Life Balance with EU Funds, which supports innovative practices and gender analysis to realise the potential of the European Funds to promote work-life balance in the EU. The model is accompanied by a fact sheet summarising the issue.