Gap after gap
The GAP was widely hailed when it was launched in 2010 as being sorely needed and a clear proof of the EU’s commitment to gender equality. But that must now be thrown into question given the huge number of gaps that have been identified by the evaluation team: a leadership gap, a credibility gap, a capacity gap, an understanding gap, a coordination gap – all resulting in a huge implementation gap. That’s certainly a lot of gaps for one GAP!
The evaluation was clear: results are patchy, seem to depend on the goodwill and hard work of a few committed individuals, and mainstreaming is simply wishful thinking.
But worse still, they could barely find the data and evidence to know what the EU was doing on gender!
Bridging the gaps: cherry-picking and burden sharing?
How to bridge all those gaps? Well, if the EU Delegations found the last GAP too complex to implement, the revised one which will be launched later this year – and which is even more comprehensive if the draft is anything to go by – is going to cause them to miss a heartbeat.
Maybe that is why the EC has decided that countries can pick and choose what they will focus on. And then the Member States can agree among themselves who will support which country – a process known as ‘burden-sharing’, but which potentially creates yet more gaps, as opposed to bridging existing ones.
No opt-in/opt-out on tackling harmful norms and discrimination
Is cherry-picking and burden-sharing really the answer to doing more, better? Certainly not. At least not unless the EU recognises that a small number of topics are so fundamental to achieving girls’ and women’s rights and empowerment that they must be mandatory for all countries.
Things like tackling the harmful social norms and attitudes that exist in most societies and which are the basis for the discrimination girls and women face in every walk of life.
Gender equality starts with girls
I suppose where I was most disappointed - but unfortunately not surprised - was that the EU both in the Brussels HQ and in the field, seem to think that gender equality only becomes relevant on reaching adulthood. Or perhaps that the right only applies once you turn 18? Well, results will remain patchy at best if that is the case.
The EU must make a concerted effort to ensure girls are put centre-stage in all their programming, their policies and their diplomatic efforts to improve girls’ lives (see our full set of recommendations on the GAP II here).
Despite the bleak picture, one must applaud the EC for having commissioned this study and even more so for having allowed such great transparency about the results. And for their efforts to convince us that they will be able to do better this time around. Let’s hope that the GAP II really will live up to this promise.