WIDE+ contributed and supports the contributions of CONCORD, the European NGO confederation for Relief and Development, to the formulation of the new EU Gender Equality Strategy (2020-2024) to be published in March.
A key recommendation is to keep the ‘gender equality strategy’ for the external relations separate from an overall EU Gender Equality Strategy. CONCORD and WIDE+ suggest that the European Commission should ensure that its Gender Equality Strategy is as ambitious in its approach to gender equality within Europe as it is in its external actions through the Gender Action Plan (GAP) for its external relations (humanitarian relief, development policy, trade and other external policy).
The EU GAP strategy needs to be an official communication and not a staff working document that is was the two previous times, however there its agenda is one to build on and not replace. As the advice to the European Commission (EC) sets out: “the Gender Action Plan II has brought a strong gender equality angle to EU external action, and a dedicated GAP III is needed to pursue the EU efforts to help achieve gender equality globally”. In particular, the European Commission can build on the successful experience of EU support to gender equality, and in particular to SRHR, reflected in external policy documents, notably in the Gender Action Plan II and the European Consensus on Development.
The letter of CONCORD to the EC also calls for gender-sensitive impact “assessment of legislative and policy measures, gender budgeting, as well as through cross-sectoral cooperation and accountability mechanisms for monitoring gender mainstreaming at both EU and Member State level. This also includes consistently carrying out gender-sensitive impact assessments of trade and investment deals to ensure they do not undermine human rights, with particular attention to women’s and girls’ rights, but rather uphold and promote their respect. Gender-sensitive impact assessments of macro-economic policies, including fiscal and austerity measures, should also be carried out prior to issuing country-specific recommendations”.
And the EU: “should adopt a due diligence regulation allowing to hold European companies liable for human rights violations due to business operations elsewhere”.