Implementing the European Union gender action plan 2010-2015: challenges and opportunities

Research reports and studies
April 2013
Helen O'Connell

This research paper focuses on the implementation of the European Union (EU) Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development. It explores what has been achieved, identifies challenges, proposes a series of actions to accelerate progress, and assesses the extent to which it remains up to date and, in particular, the extent to which it includes a central economic perspective.

The EU first articulated its policy commitment to gender equality in development cooperation in 1995, following the Beijing UN Women’s Conference, and has redefined it several times since.

A growing awareness of the gap between EU policy and practice on gender equality on the part of several Member States led the European Commission (EC) to draft an operational framework to strengthen implementation: the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development (Gender Action Plan). The EU recognised that, despite progress over recent decades, women and girls continue to make up the large majority of the world’s poorest, and women are underrepresented in governments and decision-making bodies, have fewer opportunities and receive lower pay than men in labour and financial markets. 

The Gender Action Plan does not deal directly with impact or results. Comprehensive implementation would, however, deliver tangible, positive improvements in the lives, opportunities and rights of the poorest and most marginalised women, girls, men and boys.