The FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network: Addressing the implementation gap in gender equality policy

Why are we still talking about gender equality? The FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network: Addressing the implementation gap in gender equality policy

The Gender Equality Index for the EU-27 2022. Progress in EIGE’s gender equality index has slowed since 2019 and progress has been very mixed across the EU-27. Source: EIGE(1)

Why are we still talking about gender equality?

 

2024 will mark the 25 year anniversary of the Pact of Amsterdam, the legal document which made gender equality compulsory in the European Union. But even before that, gender equality policy had been enacted on national and regional levels in the member states. So why are we still talking about gender equality?

 

Haven‘t we moved beyond this topic yet?

 

Unfortunately, the reality is that not only haven‘t we closed the gap between men and women in wages, pensions, school achievement, participation in STEM fields, number of political representatives, and many other topics, in fact, recent data from the European Institute on Gender Equality (EIGE) shows that progress on gender equality in the EU-27 stalled or was in some places even negative between 2019 and 2022, due largely in part to the gendered effects of the pandemic.

Gender Equality Index for the EU-27 2022

The Gender Equality Index for the EU-27 2022. Progress in EIGE’s gender equality index has slowed since 2019 and progress has been very mixed across the EU-27. Source: EIGE. 2022. Gender Equality Index 2022: The COVID-19 pandemic and care. p. 20. Available at: https://eige.europa.eu/publications-resources/publications/gender-equality-index-2022-covid-19-pandemic-and-care. Accessed on 18 October 2023.

The fact is that while all 27 member states have enacted federal laws to translate the principle of gender equality into their national law, implementation on a local level remains uneven and tends to favour certain topics, despite the fact that women continue to experience urban spaces, public services, the labour market, education and training and even health provision in Europe differently than men.

Despite nearly a quarter century of policy, the role of gender equality as a cross-cutting topic which is vital to all policy areas remains poorly understood. A handful of cities and regions, for example Vienna (AT), Barcelona (ES), Umeå (SE) and the Basque country (ES), have made a concerted point of focusing on the role of gender in urban and regional development and have worked to push policy innovation and new approaches, including in sectors which were previously not considered relevant. However, the reality for many more municipalities, intermunicipal areas and regional authorities in Europe is that their work on gender equality implementation is hampered by knowledge and data gaps, lack of dedicated personnel, lack of awareness, lack of political support and both active and passive resistance.

For gender equality to become a reality in European cities and regions, it is therefore critical not only to work across sectors and with a variety of stakeholders, but also to work on awareness, acceptance and training within the municipality or organisation itself, identifying and actively combatting stereotypes and raising awareness and allyship among men, who are all too frequently missing from the conversation. Networking and peer learning between municipalities can help transfer knowledge and effective practices, and increase the effectiveness of those working on this topic and the policies they develop.

Against this backdrop, the URBACT FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network seeks to increase innovation and knowledge sharing in gender equality in four thematic clusters shared by the partners: urban development, labour market and training and health and safety, flanked by internal and structural gender mainstreaming in the partner organisations. Four cross-cutting topics – stereotypes, urban/rural differences, intersectional identities and the role of men – will accompany this work. The goal of the network is to create cities and regions in which all residents, irrespective of gender, can experience freedom of movement, freedom from violence, freedom from fear, freedom to pursue their dreams, and freedom to reach their full potential.

To do this, the eight partners (Länsstyrelsen Skåne (SE), Comunidade Intermunicipal da Região de Coimbra (PT), Clermont-Auvergne Métropole (FR), Kraków (PL), City of Turin (IT), Municipality of Postojna (SI), Cluj Metropolitan Area Intercommunity Development Association (RO), and Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)) will embark on a two-year journey of learning, sharing and testing in order to create integrated action plans for their local policy challenges.

This network will tackle topics never before addressed in an URBACT network, including gender-based violence, women‘s health issues, and gendered approaches to mobility planning. If you want to read more about the state of gender equality in Europe and how the FEMACT-Cities partners plan to tackle it, check out our baseline study.

And to learn more about URBACT‘s work on gender equality and how it affects your sector, check out the Gender Equal Cities report, which is packed with case studies and helpful tools and methods.

Photo by Christian Lue

Submitted by Mary Dellenbaugh on 28/11/2023
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Mary Dellenbaugh

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