The strategy of gender mainstreaming in order to implement Norwegian gender equality policies involves a proactive intervention in the policy processes to prevent gender inequalities. This is a way to integrate equal opportunities principles, strategies and practices into the every day work of government and other public authorities in Norway.
Norway has included gender mainstreaming in its overall strategy for gender equality, but keeps gender specific action as an equally important approach. This dual track started at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. The Beijing Platform for Action, from the 4th UN Conference on Women in Beijing 1995, called upon the UN member states to promote gender equality through the use of a dual strategy - gender mainstreaming complemented by policies targeted to address specific gaps or challenges.
The gender mainstreaming approach calls for the integration of gender perspectives into all stages of policy processes - design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation - to promote equality between women and men. The strategy recognises gender as a cross-cutting issue which has relevance in most areas of society.
The problem has often been the perception that gender neutrality promotes gender equality. In fact gender neutrality - intentionally or unintentionally - generates inequality because men traditionally have been the norm for policy development and implementation. To be aware of and take gender perspectives into consideration in policy processes is a necessary precondition for the gender mainstreaming strategy to work effectively.
The use of gender mainstreaming as a strategy implies analysing issues from a gender perspective and aiming at more equal solutions. The authorities should at least analyse their field of responsibility to identify possible gender perspectives. If a new policy or a change in a policy implicates gender inequalities, the policy needs to be reformulated.
The responsibility of all public authorities in Norway to promote gender equality in their areas of activity is enshrined in the Gender Equality Act of 1979. The Ministry for Culture in Norway monitors and coordinates the ministries’ responsibility for gender budgeting and for gender impact assessments of policy reforms.