The mandatory EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 includes the mainstreaming as one of the three specific approaches to be implemented in the programming of development initiatives, together with political and policy dialogue and the promotion of specific actions for gender equality and women's and girls' rights.
Gender Mainstreaming is an effective strategy aimed at achieving gender equality. It is the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated into all policies at all levels and all stages, by the actors normally involved in policymaking.
The approach to mainstreaming gender equality in development cooperation involves the systematic consideration of the differences between the conditions, situations and needs of women and men in all policies and actions. Moreover, it recognizes that women and men have to be equally involved in setting goals, and elaborating strategies and plans so that development objectives are gender-sensitive. In this way the priorities and needs of both sexes are addressed and taken into account.
This makes for effective, long-lasting, and sustainable equitable development co-operation with a positive impact in terms of meeting poverty reduction goals.
The European Commission has developed a Toolkit on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in EC Development Cooperation. The toolkit is part of a large effort to build capacity for gender mainstreaming in development cooperation. It is currently under revision for update.
Recently, the EU has created an online Resource Package: Tools to advance the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Gender Equality, which intends to offer practical guidance on how to promote gender equality and achieve more equitable and sustainable development results.