Territorial reforms, citizens’ democratic participation in public life, the modernisation of public administration, the dialogue and relations between tiers of government, public finances and trans-frontier co-operation are all essential for the promotion of gender equality, as their gender-related aspects are numerous.

Constitutional reforms are a powerful tool to reinforce gender equality in a country, through the integration of clauses on sex-based discrimination and equality, or through clauses on electoral matters or parity democracy. In the same way, the modernisation of public administration should take into account the needs and situations and women and men, notably in relation to ensuring equal access to justice and public services. Finally, gender equality is a fundamental topic when promoting and researching good governance.


Gender mainstreaming in governance and constitutional matters at the Council of Europe


Achieving a balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making is one of the six objectives of the Council of Europe Strategy on Gender Equality 2018-2023. In 2003, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation CM/Rec(2003)3 on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making, setting the objective of a minimum representation of both sexes at 40%. The Analytical Report on the Third round  of monitoring of Council of Europe Recommendation Rec (2003) 3 on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making provides comprehensive data on six domains of decision making for 2016. In a Resolution entitled Assessing the impact of measures to improve women’s political representation, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly called on member States to “consider introducing the principle of parity into their constitution or into their electoral legislation”.  In 2016, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities adopted a Recommendation on women’s political participation and representation at local and regional levels.

The Venice Commission (VC) - the European Commission for Democracy through Law – has adopted a number of reports and opinions related to gender equality since 1992, notably a Report on the Impact of Electoral Systems on Women’s Representation in Politics (2009) that favours legal quotas, a position reaffirmed  in their 2015 Report on the methods of nomination of candidates within political parties. A regional conference was organised by the VC in 2015 on gender equality and electoral processes. A compilation of gender equality opinions and reports adopted by the VC was published in 2016. The VC is also looking at how the constitutions of its 61 member states cover gender equality and non-discrimination issues. The preliminary results of the study show that 35 out of 61 constitutions have gender equality/non-discrimination provisions. The VC has set up a specialised sub-committee on gender equality issues and their website has a section on gender equality.


The European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG) has also started to look at gender mainstreaming issues within their work, including in relation to public administration. In 2008, the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform developed a “Leadership Academy” programme aimed at improving the abilities of local leaders, which includes a gender mainstreaming session. A gender aspect was added to a revised Public Ethics Benchmarking tool.


See also section on electoral assistance and census.