The European Union's new Gender Action Plan 2016-2020: gender equality and women's empowerment in external relations

Research reports and studies
October 2015
Helen O'Connell, Mikaela Gavas

The European Union’s (EU) framework, Gender equality and women’s empowerment: transforming the lives of girls and women through EU external relations 2016-2020, outlines an ambitious approach to gender equality and the promotion, protection and fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights.

The framework is narrow in focus, but broad in scope and engagement. It seeks to concentrate the efforts of all EU actors (European External Action Service (EEAS), Delegations, Commission services and Member States) on a shift in institutional culture, and three thematic areas: girls’ and women’s physical and psychological integrity, their economic and social rights, and voice and participation.

While the new framework offers a real opportunity to improve EU action on gender equality, its strengths are dependent on success in addressing the potential risk and weakness. Seizing this opportunity will require sustained leadership from the Commission and the EEAS, as well as more knowledge, capacity and commitment across all staff.