There are two different focal points for gender equality in programmes: 1. including the gender aspect in processes and 2. aiming for results that have the potential to contribute to gender equality.

The agency has conducted a needs analysis and thereby identified ten programmes. These selected programmes receive intensive support with the goal of mainstreaming equality issues in their procedures and results. A consultation road map is drawn up with the responsible programme managers. In this road map, objectives and activities are defined and a time schedule is set. The methods of consultancy depend on the needs and interests of the persons involved and on the subject in question. The agency offers a set of methods, including coaching, workshops and training. The aim is to enhance the gender competence of the persons involved and to create instruments on the programme level that will incorporate gender aspects into the strategic gender planning processes.

The portfolio of activities of the Agency for Gender Equality in the ESF encompasses:

  • ongoing consultancy for ESF administrators and particularly the Managing Authority on the federal level,
  • training and counselling of key actors in Gender Mainstreaming,
  • Gender Budgeting analysis of monitoring data,
  • compilation and dissemination of expert and target-group specific knowledge,
  • networking on the EU and German levels,
  • the systematic transmission of information via relevant documents, practical developments and examples of good practice via web-based information management.

Ongoing consultancy for ESF-programmes

The programmes have selection criteria for projects, meaning that projects have to clarify in what way gender equality is addressed in the project and how the project will contribute to gender equality.

Every programme gives more or less specific criteria for gender equality. The Agency for Gender Equality supports programme officers and responsible staff in adjusting gender equality criteria according to the subject and the target groups of the respective program.

The Agency for Gender Equality has produced material to support actors in implementing Gender Mainstreaming.

There is, for example, a guideline for the implementation of GM in programmes and another guideline for the implementation of GM in projects.

On the programme level, the Agency for Gender Equality within the ESF plans to develop gender equality benchmarks for selected programmes. For example: One programme has the objective to support unemployed persons who have started a business (Programme: Coaching for formerly unemployed persons in the post start-up business phase). By defining the target group of the programme and assessing data to determine the proportion of men and women within this target group, a tailored benchmark is defined. The development of this benchmark is governed by three principles: the benchmark should be a) adequate, b) realistic and c) ambitious. This means that the benchmark should be geared toward the target groups, but it should not necessarily be 50:50, since it is known that women start up businesses at about one-third the rate of men. The benchmark, however, should aspire to contribute to gender equality; thus, it should not simply reflect the existing proportion of one-third women/two-thirds men. To contribute to gender equality, a higher proportion of women should be promoted by the programme. Therefore, one could set the indicator at about 45 percent female participation.


Capacity building is a precondition for the successful implementation of Gender Mainstreaming as a cross-cutting issue in all levels and phases of ESF programmes. Thus, the agency offers tailor-made training courses for ESF actors. These trainings provide basic knowledge on Gender Mainstreaming in the ESF, focusing on Gender Equality goals and enabling participants to include gender aspects in their daily working routines. In this regard, capacity building also means highlighting the links between key ESF topics (like business start-ups, migration, adult education and others) and the gender aspects important to these topics. Participants, therefore, will not only gain theoretical knowledge of Gender Mainstreaming, but will also be provided with applicable tools.

Gender Budgeting

In the Operational Programme, Gender Budgeting is set out as a key approach for achieving gender equality in the ESF. Gender Budgeting, as outlined in the OP, aims toward the equal distribution of funds in programmes with individual participants: At least 50 percent of the funds in programmes with participants or in programmes dedicated to gender equality (Code 69 programmes) are to be allocated to women. The Agency for Gender Equality produces yearly reports on Gender Budgeting performance by analysing monitoring data.

Gender Budgeting Report 2009

Gender Budgeting Report 2010

Gender Budgeting Report 2011

In addition to quantitative Gender Budgeting, the Agency will develop a concept for a qualitative Gender Budgeting. Programmes without single participants are assessed with regard to their potential to contribute to Gender Equality (Gender Impact Assessment), and their budget is then included in this assessment.

Providing Information

Capacity building can be supported by training, but also by other forms of knowledge transfer. The Agency publishes short studies on key ESF topics highlighting the gender aspects of these fields. In these studies, we provide data and information on a variety of issues, including, for example, studies on the gender aspects of entrepreneurship and on the transition from school into professional life.

In addition, we offer comprehensive information on Gender Mainstreaming in the ESF through our website, which is updated on a regular basis.


The Agency for Gender Equality in the ESF actively promotes networking with diverse actors of the ESF through events and cooperation. Networking takes place on different federal levels, such as through the working group for equal opportunities with representatives of the 16 federal states or the ESF monitoring committee. Gender experts are invited to share ideas and exchange knowledge on key topics with other ESF actors. Furthermore, the Agency is networking on an international level, discussing and disseminating international experiences, good examples, effective methods and approaches within the Community of Practice "European Network on Gender Mainstreaming", as well as within other transnational thematic networks that are within the scope of the Agency.