GAP III – What opportunities for local government and decentralised cooperation?
The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) launched the new EU Gender Action Plan – An ambitious agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU external action (GAP III) during the #GenderEqualWorld high-level conference on 25 November.
“PLATFORMA and its partners will do their part to make the EU Gender Action Plan III a success,” said Marlène Siméon, Director of PLATFORMA after the presentation. “We will continue to create spaces for peer-to-peer learning on women’s access to public spaces, participative and gender sensitive municipal budgeting, engagement of women and youth in local politics, promotion of women’s local entrepreneurship, and many more areas,” she added.
“Networking and exchange of best practice examples and experience between the municipalities, cities and regions of the EU and partner countries are crucial to improve local and regional policies, and better deliver public services on the ground,” she also stated.
Five pillars, a three-pronged approach
GAP III is organised around 5 pillars that will be pursued with a three-pronged approach that combines gender mainstreaming, targeted actions and political dialogue.
- Making gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment a cross-cutting priority of EU external action.
- Working together with EU Member States as Team Europe at multilateral, regional and country level, and fostering partnership with stakeholders, CSO, women’s organisations
- Accelerating progress by focusing on key areas of engagement which are: Ending gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, Economic and social rights and empowerment, Equal participation and leadership, Women, peace and security, Green and digital transformations)
- Leading by example, by striving for a gender-responsive and balanced leadership, more capacity and expertise and a reinforced network of gender focal points
- Putting the focus on results, accountability and transparency through qualitative, quantitative and inclusive monitoring.
The action plan highlights the importance of working in a “context-sensitive” manner, which will require “strong partnerships and dialogue with local actors, civil society and local communities…”
Multi-level and multilateral cooperation forms the basis of the second pillar of the strategy and calls for the EU to “maintain regular dialogue on the implementation of GAP III and work in cooperation with a broad range of actors, such as local authorities and civil society organisations, women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, young people, religious and faith-based organisations.”
Local and regional governments, along with their representative associations, through their contacts with national governments and EU delegations in partner countries, should aim to influence the development of ‘country-level implementation plans’ to ensure that they are involved from the earliest stages and can assist in setting policy priorities and identifying actions and key objectives for the key areas of engagement.
The key areas of engagement in the 3rd pillar build on those of GAP II and are well-aligned with the priorities of CEMR/PLATFORMA’s networks and national associations of local and regional governments, and cover topics where the local level of government has particular competences, and can effectively contribute.
What to expect from CEMR and PLATFORMA going forward
The contributions of local and regional governments are crucial for socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development. Our original message from the consultation phase in the preparation of GAP III bears repeating: Gender Equality & women’s empowerment in EU external relations cannot happen without local governments & regions!
Going forward, as the relevant committees of the European Parliament draft their reports on the new strategy, CEMR and PLATFORMA will advocate for further, specific, recognition of the critical role municipalities and regions play as partners in design and implementation of actions at country level. We wish to see the European Parliament strongly encourage Member States and EU delegations to consider LRGs as key development policy actors in their own right and systematically include them at all stages.