Gender is a set of characteristics which differentiate socially constructed roles and behaviours as either masculine or feminine and which are attributed to individuals based on their sex at birth.
However, this clear-cut differentiation leaves little (or no) room for those individuals whose gender identity does not match the gender assigned to them at birth. It does not include intersex individuals (if we take into consideration only the biological factors) or the LGBTQI+ people (including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Asexual or Ally). Thus, the term “gender”, while considering also sexual orientation and gender identity, has different and very personal meanings for each individual.
The Council of Europe has been working on gender, gender equality and gender identity from various angles and adopted a recommendation on gender mainstreaming already in 1998.
Based on the premise that achieving gender equality is central to the protection of human rights and the functioning of democracy, the Council of Europe adopted a Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017, focusing among other things on combating gender stereotypes and sexism, preventing and combating violence against women and achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making.
The Council of Europe Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity unit promotes and seeks to ensure that the human rights of every individual are respected, including equal rights for LGBT+ persons. It combats discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Council of Europe’s Youth Sector has been integrating a gender dimension in its policy, educational approaches and practices for many years, which is very much thanks to the role of youth organisations in the co-management system.
“Youth-work settings often provide a unique and crucial safe space for young men and women to discuss and share their thoughts and experiences on gender and sexuality. … Someone may have direct or indirect experience of domestic violence, or another may be confused about their sexuality or bullied because their actual or perceived gender does not fit the accepted norms. … being prepared to challenge discriminatory attitudes towards women or LGBT people…” (Compass – the Manual for Human Rights Education with Young People).
The European Youth Foundation aims to increase awareness of these various issues and hopes that youth NGOs will consider (from their perspective, considering their situation and needs) how to plan, implement and evaluate activities which are inclusive, allow equal participation, question the status quo and so on. While providing the definitions of the Council of Europe, when we refer to gender perspective we take an inclusive approach, considering the needs of every individual.
NGO developed resources
- Peace bag (Fundació Catalunya Voluntària)
- Gender equality for a world of opportunity (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts – Europe)
- Gender Toolkit (United Network of Young Peacebuilders)
- Rainbow resources (International Falcon Movement Socialist Educational International)
- IGLYO on gender (IGLYO)
- Genderality (Libero)
- Extending the Practice of Gender through intercultural learning (CCIVS)
- Toolkit to Work on Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights (CCIVS)
- Norm Criticism Toolkit (IGLYO)
- Intersectionality Toolkit (IGLYO)
- Resource Manual and Strategy for the Promotion of Gender Equality in Cyprus (AEQUITAS)
Council of Europe resources
- Manual: Supporting Gender Equality Rapporteurs (GERs) in their role
- Gender equality Glossary
- Glossary of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit
- Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017
- Compendium of good practices on local & regional level policies to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation & gender identity
- Gender Equality in the Council of Europe
- Gender Equality Commission 2015 annual report
- Compass (gender equality section)
- Gender Matters (gender identity issues)
- EYF Report on the Gender Equality Matters! Seminar held by the Youth Department
- Guidelines on integrating gender equality in intercultural youth activities of the Council of Europe and its partners (to be published soon)
Why is a gender perspective important?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is our organisation inclusive?
- Are we willing to welcome new members with different skills and perspectives?
- Do we provide a safe space for everyone to participate?
- Do we aim to ensure the active participation of all young people without discrimination?
- Do we have enough information about our target groups and cater for their needs?
- Will our work be more effective if we take a “gender perspective” into account?
Read on if you are interested in finding out more…
How to take into account a gender perspective in youth activities?
There is no perfect recipe. The EYF asks NGOs to put their “gender glasses” on and think critically of the current ways of “doing things”. How does that action/activity/law affect people on the basis of their gender/gender identity? Are there any differences? Does it respond to the needs of everyone? How could it be changed to include the needs of everyone? What language is being used? Is gender-sensitive and inclusive language being used? “They” instead of “he or she”; “chairperson” instead of chairman.
In more general terms, the “gender glasses” should be used in the planning, implementation and evaluation of an activity. Here are some questions/ideas to keep in mind when aiming to include a “gender perspective” into your project.
Do you feel like you need more information to find your "gender glasses"?
Scroll down to get more information on how the Council of Europe defines gender, gender equality, gender identity.
The Youth Sector, the EYF and gender
The Youth Department has been integrating for many years a gender dimension in its policy, educational approaches and practices through the European Youth Centres and the European Youth Foundation.
The main gender issues addressed within the Youth Programme:
- gender-based violence and trafficking;
- sexual and reproductive rights;
- sexual orientation and gender identity;
- combating discrimination against women, including misogyny and sexism – including in social media. The No Hate Speech Movement team and the Gender Equality Division jointly organised a seminar Combating Sexist Hate Speech, on 10-12 February 2016;
- heteronormativity and discrimination of “invisible” groups such as intersexual (Gender Matters manual is a helpful resource when addressing heteronormativity and gender identity);
- combating discrimination and homophobia.
Gender is also part of the major projects of the Youth Sector:
- The Enter! Recommendation integrates the gender dimension;
- Roma Youth Action Plan (addresses multiple discrimination issue);
- No Hate Speech Movement campaign (specific action days concerning homophobia, misogynist attitudes and sexism: 8 March on sexist hate speech, 22 July on hate crime, and 10 December on Human Rights online).
The European Youth Foundation promotes the integration of a “gender perspective” in the activities it supports run by non-governmental youth organisations, contributing to the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy (Objective 5: “Achieving Gender Mainstreaming in all policies and measures”) and the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Council of Europe basics – what is…?
“Gender equality is a fundamental right. However, people often have their human rights violated on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation.” (Compass)
“Achieving gender equality is central to the protection of human rights, the functioning of democracy, respect for the rule of law, and economic growth and competitiveness”. (Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017).
“Gender equality means an equal visibility, empowerment and participation of both sexes in all spheres of public and private life. Gender equality is the opposite of gender inequality, not of gender difference, and aims to promote the full participation of women and men in society. It means accepting and valuing equally the differences between women and men and the diverse roles they play in society.
Gender equality includes the right to be different. This means taking into account the existing differences among women and men, which are related to class, political opinion, religion, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. Gender equality means discussing how it is possible to go further, to change the structures in society which contribute to maintaining the unequal power relationships between women and men, and to reach a better balance in the various female and male values and priorities”. (Gender Equality Glossary)
Gender mainstreaming is the strategy used to achieve gender equality between men and women. It bases itself on the acknowledgment that men and women have different living conditions and needs, but should enjoy the equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities.
According to the Council of Europe “gender mainstreaming is the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy-making”. (Gender Equality Glossary)
This means that gender mainstreaming involves the integration of a gender perspective into the planning, organisation, implementation and evaluation of policies and in EYF’s case, activities.
The Council of Europe is striving to achieve gender mainstreaming in policy areas, development and implementation of cooperation programmes and activities in its bodies and institutions. The result, a gender mainstreaming strategy: Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017
Eurimages, the European cinema support fund of the Council of Europe, is also involved in actively promoting gender equality in the film industry. In October 2015, the Eurimages Board of Management adopted a strategy for gender equality in the European film industry.
The Istanbul Convention, provides a legal framework to prevent and protect victims of domestic abuse. “It is firmly based on the premise that violence against women cannot be eradicated without investing in gender equality…” (Gender Equality Glossary)
More information and resources www.coe.int/equality
Gender identity and sexual orientation
Gender identity refers to a person’s deeply felt individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, and includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender (that is, “gender expression”) such as dress, speech and mannerisms. The sex of a person is usually assigned at birth and becomes a social and legal fact from there on. However, some people experience problems identifying with the sex assigned at birth – these persons are referred to as “transgender” persons. Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation, and transgender persons may identify as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual. (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit - Glossary)
The Council of Europe has adopted a number of international legal instruments and standards on combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. They illustrate the underlying message of the Organisation, which is that the Council of Europe's standards of tolerance and non-discrimination apply to all European societies, and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is not compatible with these standards.
The publication "Combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity" (June 2011) provides an accessible and comprehensive compilation of the standards adopted by the Council of Europe. It should serve as a reference for the governments, international institutions, NGOs, media professionals and to all those who are - or should be - professionally or otherwise involved or interested in protecting and promoting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. (SOGI website)
Grant beneficiaries must
- use the Council of Europe logo and the visual identity of the EYF on any publication, material, website
- mention the support of the EYF