Gender as a cross-cutting issue and a specific theme
A strategy to achieve gender equality that has gained worldwide acceptance is gender mainstreaming. This strategy ensures that attention is given to equality of men and women in all activities of an organisation: mission, policy, strategy, human resources policy, as well as programmes and projects. The UN propagates this strategy.
If an organisation wants to address the theme of gender seriously and thoroughly, it must first take a look in the mirror: to what extent are men and women equal in its own organisation? The same applies to the local partner organisation. Otherwise there is a big risk that the project plans give great priority to equality, while the key positions in the organisations carrying out the plans are held mainly by men (in other words, practise what you preach). This means that sport development organisations need to ensure that all their activities are gender-sensitive, including projects with a different theme. For instance, when training trainers in the context of capacity building, attention must also be given to the importance and the role of female trainers, and to the relationship between the coach (often a man) and trainees (often women).
In addition to mainstreaming, specific interventions are needed, especially in situations where there is great inequality between men and women (UN, 2006). These interventions are primarily intended to improve and strengthen the position of women (empowerment) - for example, setting up a football competition for women. It is the combination of the two strategies that ultimately leads to equality.
Two strategies needed
To summarise, there are two strategies for gender equality:
1) Gender mainstreaming: creating gender balance in policy, structures and management, bringing about a sustainable change in mentality through all the activities of an organisation, change from the inside out.
2) Empowerment: activities specifically aimed at participation by women without directly tackling existing structures (bottom-up approach).
Remember: An effective approach uses both strategies at the same time!