Petra Meier and Karen Celis
L’art pour l’art?
Gender mainstreaming in Belgium
From the outset, there were high expectations
about gender mainstreaming and the
possibilities it raised for achieving gender
equality. A decade after the introduction of
gender mainstreaming, scepticism about
gender mainstreaming as an effective
policy strategy for gender equality is vast.
Analyzing several operationalizations of
gender mainstreaming at the respective
policy levels in Belgium, the article focuses
on the basic assumptions of the concept
regarding policy as intentional and rational
in process and outcome in explaining
why in practice gender mainstreaming
often turns into a formalistic exercise of
measuring, monitoring and evaluating.
The argument of the paper is that the lack
of a definition of the aim of gender main
streaming (i.e. gender equality) combined
with its focus on implementing procedures
in assumed rational policy processes,
allows for gender mainstreaming to be
watered down to a formalistic exercise
of creating specific output using gender
mainstreaming instruments whereby
losing sight of substantive outcome in
terms of enhancing gender equality.