Competence in gender perspectives is necessary for the implementation of gender equality strategies - mainstreaming and specific action. The gender perspective looks at the impact of gender on people's opportunities, social roles and interactions.
Policies, programs and legislation can reinforce gender stereotypes, systemic discrimination and unequal opportunities for women and men. In order to avoid maintaining gender inequalities or creating new ones knowledge on gender perspectives is necessary. How are men and women affected by proposed and/or existing policies, programs and legislation? A gendered analysis challenges the notion of a gender-neutral policy that affects everyone the same way regardless of gender. A gender perspective recognises potential gender differences - of the nature of relationships between women and men and of their different social situations, life expectations and economic circumstances.
The easiest way to discover a gender perspective is to look at the numbers - how many women and how many men, girls and boys are included by a policy? Many gender specific actions are a result of gender imbalances in representation shown by gender segregated statistics.
On other occasions gender perspectives are not always obvious. In order to identify the gender perspective it is necessary to assess how policies, programs and legislation impact both directly and indirectly on the lives and status of both women and men. This knowledge is a necessary precondition for using gender mainstreaming strategies.
Gender perspectives will vary from case to case, and many agencies have developed their own gender sensitive assessments. A general method for identifying the gender perspectives is the Swedish 3R method, which was developed by Getrud Åström in collaboration with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities. 3R stands for Representation, Resources and Realia. The first thing to do is to gather quantitative information about Representation and Resources in the actual case - how many women and men, girls and boys, are represented, and how are resources, such as money, time and services distributed between women and men, boys and girls? The second thing is to investigate Realia, which deals with qualitative questions about why the situation looks as it does. This method is also used in a Guide to Gender Equality in the Norwegian Municipalities.
Gendered differences and inequalities are often revealed through research and statistics with gender perspectives.