Through all relevant policies under its external action, the EU can exercise significant influence in fostering gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.
The EU pursues a twin-track approach to gender equality in development cooperation: gender mainstreaming and gender specific actions in a number of areas. Activities range between:
- capacity-building to developing countries;
- support to women's organisations;
- disseminating information on gender equality through guidelines, best practices and awareness raising.
Gender Equality should also be included in the political and policy dialogue with partner countries.
The 2005 European Development Consensus commits the EU to include a strong gender component in all its policies and practices in its relations with developing countries.
The Communication on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation (2007) sets the basis for a coordinated EU approach for the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment. It reinforces the twin-track approach of gender mainstreaming and gender-specific actions.
In 2010, the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development was adopted as part of the Council Conclusions on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The aim is to put policy into practice and to improve the EU's work on this crucial matter.
Candidate countries must fully embrace the fundamental principle of equality between women and men. Monitoring the transposition, implementation and enforcement of EU legislation in this area remains a priority of the enlargement process which the EU supports financially.