According to the Council of Europe, “Gender mainstreaming is the (re) organization, improvement, development and evaluation of decision-making processes, with the aim of incorporating the perspective of equality between women and men in all fields and at all levels, by the actors generally involved in the implementation of policies”.
Gender issues should be mainstreamed at all stages of policy development or project programming, but it is particularly important to take them into account at the planning stage when problems, concerns and needs of beneficiaries are identified and the means to address them are defined. Therefore, gender analysis and gender impact assessments are essential tools that facilitate the practical implementation of the gender mainstreaming approach.
Other factors are equally important to ensure proper integration of the gender perspective, such as political will, commitment to and awareness of gender equality, knowledge, resources and the availability of information. The integrated approach to equality between women and men is the responsibility of all actors and concerns and all areas of action that meet the needs of populations at all levels. Areas of action which at first glance do not seem relevant may indeed present hidden aspects of inequality between women and men.
The implementation of gender mainstreaming also requires instruments (statistics disaggregated by sex, gender indicators, support manuals, etc.), as well as coordination structures between departments and within departments. Finally, developing the expertise of administrations and resorting to external expertise are essential for the concrete implementation of the approach.