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Mainstreaming Gender: examples of policies and action plans  

Below are some gender policies, plans and definitions of mainstreaming from select International Organisations within the Commonwealth and UN systems; from the World Bank and regional development banks; national development agencies (such as CIDA, DFID, NZAid and AusAid); and select international civil society agencies.

According to UNESCO, regional adult literacy rates are significantly lower for women than for men, particularly in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, as can be seen in the following chart 1.    

 Region Overall
literacy rate
Literacy rate
for women

South Asia

64% 47%

Sub-Saharan Africa

62% 54%

Latin America
and the Caribbean

91% 90%


65% 61%

In July 1997, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) defined the concept of gender mainstreaming as follows:

"Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making the concerns and experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality 2."

Commonwealth Agencies

Commonwealth of Learning
Gender Policy

Commonwealth Secretariat
Gender Mainstreaming

Association of Commonwealth Universities
Gender Programme

United Nations

FAO - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Gender Policy and Planning 
Gender: the key to sustainability and food security

WFP - The World Food Programme
Gender Policy

Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)
Gender Mainstreaming

UN Women
Gender Issues

Gender Mainstreaming Resource Centre 
Priority gender equality: Action plan 2008-2013

UNICEF - The United Nations Children's Fund
Gender Equality

Equality Between Women and Men

ILO - The International Labour Organization
Vision for Gender Equality

WHO - The World Health Organisation
Gender Mainstreaming (definitions)
WHO Gender Policy
WHO's Gender Mainstreaming Strategy

Development Agencies

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Policy on Gender Equality

Promoting opportunities for all: gender equality and women's empowerment

UK's Department for International Development (DFID) DFID's Experience of Gender Mainstreaming: 1995 to 2004
Gender Manual: A Practical Guide, 2008

The Strategic Vision for Girls and Women: One Year On


Development Banks

World Bank
Gender Policies 
Gender Mainstreaming Strategy Paper
World Bank Group Action Plan

Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Policy on Gender and Development

Inter-American Development Bank
Gender Equality in Development

African Development Bank
Gender Policy 

Other Intergovernmental Agencies/Organisations

Council of Europe
Gender Mainstreaming Policies and Strategies 

Gender Equality

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
OSCE Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality

European Commission
Gender Equality

International NGOs

CARE - Gender Policy

Oxfam - Policy on Gender Equality 


  1. http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?
  2. Source: United Nations Economic and Social Council. June 1997. Mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system. Report of the Secretary-General. http://www.un.org/documents/ecosoc/docs/1997/e1997-66.htm