What are Gender Equality Reports?
The Gender Equality Reports provide an empirical assessment of the status of gender equality in Germany and provide recommendations for action aimed at reducing identified inequalities. The reports advise and give impetus for gender equality policy action.
According to the resolution of the German Bundestag of 13 December 2012 (Plenary Protocol 17/214 (in German) and Document 17/8879 of 6 March 2012 (in German)) and the Bundesrat (Document 376/11 (B) of 23 September 2011 (in German)), the Federal Government submits a report on gender equality in Germany once every legislative period.
The First Gender Equality Report of the German Federal Government was published in 2011; the Second Gender Equality Report in 2017; and the Third Gender Equality Report in 2021. Whereas the First and Second Gender Equality Reports covered a wide range of topics relevant to gender equality, the Third Gender Equality Report focuses for the first time on one main topic, namely digitalisation. It answers the key question of what course needs to be set in order to shape developments in the digital economy in a way that provides equal capabilities for women and men.
The gender equality reporting system is still relatively young when compared to the reporting systems in other policy fields such as the Report on Older People (the 8th edition was published in 2020), the Family Report (the 9th Family Report was published in May 2021), or the Children and Youth Reports (in German), which have already reached their 16th edition. Certain rhythms for such overview and focus reports have become firmly established in each of these fields.
Components of the Gender Equality Reports
An interdisciplinary Expert Commission writes an Expert Opinion („Gutachten“) for the Gender Equality Report, which it submits to the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The ministry then prepares a statement on this Opinion together with the other departments of the Federal Government, which the Cabinet adopts. The statement also contains a stocktaking and review of the previous Gender Equality Report. The entire Gender Equality Report thus consists of these two components – the Expert Opinion and the statement including the review. The full report is then forwarded to the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat and debated there.
- Zweiter Gleichstellungsbericht der Bundesregierung - Eine Zusammenfassung, S. 47
Embedding the Gender Equality Reports in policymaking
The role of Gender Equality Reports in policymaking can be examined using the political science concept of the policy cycle (cf. Second Gender Equality Report, p. 34 (in German)/ p. 58 in the englisch summary).
- The Expert Opinion for the Gender Equality Report firstly provides an analysis – and derives needs for action from this.
- Secondly, it offers recommendations for concrete implementation steps.
- The Gender Equality Report then finds its way into the political decision-making process in parties, associations, and civil society. If ideas and recommendations from these discussion processes are adopted in election programmes and agreed upon in coalition agreements, governments can – thirdly – set about implementing them.
- The fourth step, the accompanying steering and management of government action, is to take place via an interdepartmental Gender Equality Strategy („Gleichstellungsstrategie“) that has now been established for the first time. It is based on the arrangements in the coalition agreement and on the adopted recommendations of the Second Gender Equality Report.
- The fifth step of the policy cycle is monitoring. To this end, the Gender Equality Report takes stock of and reviews the previous report.
This closes the circle, and a new cycle begins – though this time starting on a higher, advanced level.