Gender impact assessment
The seminar held in Vienna on 3-4 June 2014 focused on tools to increase the recognition of the gender dimension in budgets as well as legislation and policy assessment. As of 2013, Austria’s Federal Constitution provides for outcome orientation as a principle of budgetary management, with particular regard to the objective of achieving de facto equality between women and men. There is a requirement for ministries to define at least one gender outcome per budget chapter. An impact assessment, analysing the desired outcomes and outputs, is required before drafting legislation and planning projects on federal level. In addition, indicators to measure success have to be defined. If substantial impacts on gender equality are identified, they are subject to an in-depth assessment. The directive on gender impact assessment comprises six areas which are to be analysed (Payments to natural or legal persons; Education, employment and income; Unpaid work; Public revenue; Decision-making processes and decision-making bodies; Health). The assessment is part of the explanatory notes to (draft) bills. Previously there was no legal obligation to prepare a gender impact assessment. The new legislative and practical framework comprising detailed directives, a software programme (IT-tool), handbooks, information and training material as well as compilations of gender data and statistics facilitate an in-depth analysis of expected and unexpected impacts.
Finland presented the measures which have been taken by the Government in order to enhance gender impact assessment (GIA) in law drafting. In Finland, GIA in law drafting has been conducted since 2000. It builds on established guidelines, compiled statistics, and training provided at the central governmental level. At the very beginning of the preparatory work for the law, the need for gender impact assessment is examined. This need is assessed by answering two basic questions testing the gender relevance. If an impact is assumed, a plan for GIA is prepared and existing information and statistics are analysed and further reports commissioned if necessary. The gender impact is monitored after the implementation of the law. In recent years, special efforts have been taken in order to strengthen capacity building in these fields within the Government. In 2013, the project “Training for Gender Impact Assessment in Law Drafting” was initiated. The half-day trainings for civil servants were prepared in cooperation with the ministries and specifically tailored for each administrative sector. In each ministry, the training included an introduction to GIA and related basic concepts, process and instruments of GIA, information needs and sources concerning GIA, and group work on actual law drafting cases. Ministers and the senior management level were integrated in the project through briefings.
Seminar participants particularly praised the strong legal basis of the Austrian approach and the practical procedure of the Finnish practice. A joint strength of both countries lies in the fact that they have introduced GIA as an integral element of a general IA package, to make sure that it cannot be overlooked. The discussions focussed on the preconditions (cultural, political and economic) to implement GIA; the importance of relating it to aspects of good governance and accountability; the necessity of raising awareness and providing systematic training for public administrations; the need to engage civil society and the importance of evaluation and data collection. Furthermore, some shared challenges were identified such as a lack of binding quality criteria for GIA, ensuring inter-ministerial coordination and the involvement of external experts, and identifying the appropriate scope of the assessment (i.e. GIA should be simple to facilitate implementation but should not result in an oversimplification of complex issues).