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Family Mainstreaming

Gender Mainstreaming and family mainstreaming

Parallel to the term Gender Mainstreaming (GM), there are also a few voices calling for “Family Mainstreaming”. What both have in common is the idea that a subject should be more strongly integrated into processes and major activities. This would accordingly mean for “Family Mainstreaming” that the family becomes even more central as a criterion of good work in politics and administration.

So far, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the European Parliament have developed concrete definitions of the term Family Mainstreaming and its aims.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs includes in ‘mainstreaming the family issue’ the processes of
  • identifying the implications for families of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes
  • making family concerns an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies
  • strengthening family-centered policies and programmes as part of an integrated and comprehensive approach to development planning
The UN stresses that not only should the focus be on the family as a whole, but also that impacts on individual family members must be taken into account. The aims are similar to those of GM: real freedom of choice, equal participation, no discrimination. The family is seen here as the primary access to the members of a family. Thus, it is not possible to support children who are HIV positive or who have AIDS if the family context is not also taken into account. In the same way, new and emerging issues such as fatherhood can be integrated into a family perspective. A central aspect of the UN’s call is not “strengthening the family” but rather “strengthening the functions of the family”. The UN includes as functions undertaken by members of the family caring, support and affiliation. ‘Family Mainstreaming’ therefore means giving these functions state support.
A standard definition of what the family is supposed to look like should, however, be avoided. The function of the family is thus seen as a place where persons undertake responsibility for each other. Family is therefore here defined by terms such as identity, responsibility and affiliation than as a marriage-centered institution.

The European Parliament has taken up the term ‘Family Mainstreaming’ in its ‘Resolution on Reconciling Professional, Family and Private Lives (2003/2129(INI)) and developed a much narrower definition than the UN. Here, ‘Family Mainstreaming’ means encouraging the Member States and accession states to analyse the impact of their policies on families, while at the same time calling on the Commission to take account of the various dimensions and definitions of the family in order to identify the social impact of the measures proposed. Thus, this would involve reviewing the anticipated impacts of family policy on various family forms and family members. According to the European Parliament, this would to enable all family members to participate equally in the tasks and responsibilities of the family. Equally, various ways should be opened up for more freedom of choice with regard to matters of compatibility and discrimination should be avoided, especially in tax policy. Here we can see areas of overlap between ‘Family Mainstreaming’ and GM, since equal rights of participation, real freedom of choice and no discrimination are the gender equality aims being pursued by means of GM.

Thus, Gender Mainstreaming goes further than ‘Family Mainstreaming’, since GM pursues the equal treatment of women and men in all areas and at all levels and is not, therefore, restricted just to family policy.
erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07