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Often our work processes unintentionally lead to government activities that are more in tune with men's lives than with women's lives. We want to avoid such inequalities and strive to pursue inclusive policies. We do this primarily through gender mainstreaming. This question is also in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

Gender mainstreaming is adapting the way we develop policy in such a way that it takes into account the differences in behaviours, desires and needs between men and women. It means that the perceptions, experiences, knowledge and interests of both women and men inform policy-making. By thinking in advance about the impact of our actions on men and women, we ensure that the actions that eventually hit "the market" actually reach both.

Gender mainstreaming is applied by regional public administration officials to strategic objectives, strategic planning instruments, the budget, public procurement, grants and legislative texts.

Download the Gender Mainstreaming and Equality Plan below

How is gender mainstreaming applied in the Brussels Capital Region?

The Brussels Capital Region (BCR) applies gender mainstreaming in its strategic objectives, strategic planning instruments, public procurement, grants and legislative texts.  

Gender mainstreaming means taking into account any differences or particularities linked to gender. Before you can take into account any differences between men and women, you must first identify their situation.  This is preferably (but not exclusively) done through statistics and indicators. The statistics and internal data we produce, collect and order ourselves are already separated by gender. We also recently published the brochure 'Gender in the Brussels Capital Region' with gender statistics and indicators within the regional areas of competence. Qualitative studies can also help make the right analyses. That is why we drew up a bibliography with the most important gender studies per regional competence.

Gender mainstreaming is further concretely applied in different ways depending on the instrument:    

Strategic objectives: for each administration of the Brussels Regional Public Service and Institution of Public Utility, objectives are chosen from the orientation note and subjected to a thorough gender analysis. The orientation note comprises the key objectives of the various ministers and secretaries of state within one legislature. By incorporating the gender dimension in this document, we ensure that gender gets to the heart of policy. The objectives and gender analysis will be included in the 'regional plan'.  

Gender budgeting: all basic allocations will be divided into one of the following categories: 

  1. with no gender dimension 
  2. a specific action 
  3. any gender dimension. 

A basic allocation is a group of similar appropriations/budget lines. Category 3 base allocations are subject to gender analysis. Category 2 base allocations are included in a gender note. This will give us an overview of the budget the BCR is concretely investing in equal opportunities. The gender notes and analyses will be annexed to the general explanation of the budget submitted annually to parliament.

For the other instruments, public contracts, subsidies, strategic planning instruments and legislative texts: the equal opportunities testExternal link measures for each of the instruments the impact on 5 criteria including gender.  

Twice in a legislature, a status report on gender mainstreaming is transmitted to parliament.

What is gender?

Gender mainstreaming is adapting the way we develop policy in such a way that it takes into account the differences in behaviour, desires and needs between men and women.  It means that the perceptions, experiences, knowledge and interests of women and men inform policy-making, without falling into gender stereotyping.

Cadet training: gender violence and equality

Within the framework of the Brussels Plan against Violence on Women, we would like to call on your expertise on gender-based violence and gender equality.

Indeed, a lot of training on these topics is organised in the Brussels-Capital Region, both by public services and non-governmental organisations.

We are working on a framework of training courses to get a better picture of the existing initiatives and training courses; and thus to strengthen coordination between the actors in the sector and not see valuable knowledge being lost.

Some definitions

Gender refers to the socio-cultural interpretation of the biological difference between men and women.
It is a fluid concept. What is considered masculine in one society or era may be considered very feminine in another.

For instance, in Pakistan, mending clothes is mainly men's work, in Belgium it is a typically female profession.

Mainstreaming: 'Prevailing current' or 'core business' are synonyms for mainstream. Mainstreaming then means: being included in the core business of an organisation. The core business of the Brussels-Capital Region comprises the matters for which it is competent:

  • spatial planning (town planning, urban development, urban renewal, land policy, protection of monuments and landscapes) housing and housing living environment, animal welfare, water policy and nature conservation economy (economic development, foreign trade) and employment policy transport public works energy policy local authorities (communes, inter-communal associations, religions) international relations scientific research internal matter (IT, civil service, communication)

Gender mainstreaming is "the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes where a gender equality perspective is built into each policy level and stage by the actors making the policy" (European Council). 

Equality between women and men is understood to mean that "all people are free to develop their personal skills and make choices, without being constrained by strict gender roles and that respective behaviours, desires and needs of women and men are equally valued and encouraged".  (European Commission)

Download the regional plan for gender mainstreaming