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Gender Glasses (Finland)
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Gender Glasses (Finland)

In 2009 the Equality Unity at Finland’s Social Affairs and Health Ministry launched the “Gender Glasses project” (“Sukupuolisilmälasit”)  to raise awareness about gender mainstreaming across all Ministries and build their capacity to effectively implement gender considerations in their respective policy making scope of work.

The project was launched despite Finland’s international high ranking on gender equality performance, to address gaps in the understanding and integration of gender considerations in the policy space. Previous research conducted by the Ministry had identified the limited understanding of the objectives and methods related to gender mainstreaming among Ministry representatives as a barrier preventing the application of gender mainstreaming theories into policies and policy-making. Acknowledging this constraint while upholding gender mainstreaming as a priority for the Finnish Government, a dedicated training project was launched to provide the national administration staff with a basic understanding of gender mainstreaming principles, how to mainstream gender and evaluate the gender impact of policymaking.

The project was addressed to all Ministries and was designed and developed in three phases (the first two with funding from the European Commission), with increasing ambitions of gender integration and further tailoring to the specificities of each Ministry.

The first phase’s training provided general awareness raising to all ministries, and a first set of seminars were held with the ministry leadership. Dedicated educational and awareness-raising materials were developed, including a website. In the following phase, thematic training sessions were held for the equality working groups of each Ministry. One seminar was also delivered to Ministry staff in charge of budgeting.

Further to consultations and need assessments with each Ministry, in phase three dedicated support was provided to three Ministries: the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Interior.

The four-year project has been instrumental to improve the general awareness among staff and directors of the principles, terms and methods related to gender mainstreaming as well as about the links between gender equality actors across Ministries. It also contributed to increasing the availability of tools and materials to support training efforts in this field. The gender equality working groups were boosted by this initiative and further sharpened their work. While gender mainstreaming gained in visibility, new tools were created to support the work of gender equality coordinators and working groups in the ministries. Gender monitoring, in particular, was strengthened by new and improved legislation, while the mandatory relevance of gender mainstreaming was reiterated at all ministerial levels.

Thanks to the project, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health produced a practical “Handbook Handbook to support the gender equality work of ministries” which is constantly updated and still in use. The Handbook provides guidance on how to embed gender perspectives in decision-making processes, and provides practical instructions for assessing gender effects, implementing projects, preparing legislation, and planning the operations and finances of ministries.

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