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Evaluation of the government’s development programme for gender mainstreaming in agencies. Interim report (2018:17)

Statskontoret (The Swedish Agency for Public Management) has been commissioned by the government to evaluate the government's development programme for gender mainstreaming in agencies (JiM). Gender mainstreaming is the government's main tool for achieving the gender equality policy goals. It means that a gender equality dimension must be incorporated into all decision-making. The JiM programme consists of two parts:

  • Commission to the agencies involved to develop their work on gender mainstreaming in order to contribute to achieving the gender equality policy goals.
  • Commission to a national support function to support the agencies in their work on gender mainstreaming.

Until 1 January 2018, the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at the University of Gothenburg (referred to in the report as the secretariat) had the commission as national support function. The Swedish Gender Equality Agency then took over the commission.

In this report, Statskontoret has described the support that the secretariat has offered to the JiM agencies. Statskontoret also describes examples of results that JiM has produced at the agencies. We have conducted interviews and documentary studies at the secretariat and at a selection of 16 agencies that have reported results from JiM. It is therefore likely that this selection offers a more positive view of the results than is representative of the JiM agencies as a whole.

The JiM programme has been extended over time

The JiM programme currently covers 60 agencies, which have been added in three sets since the beginning in 2013. As the JiM agencies have grown in number, the secretariat's budget for support has increased from SEK 1,300,000 in 2013 to SEK 7,000,000 in 2017. Over the same period, the number of full-time equivalents working in support has increased from around 1.5 to 8. The JiM programme will finish at the end of 2018, but the agencies are expected to continue their work on gender mainstreaming.

The secretariat has offered broad-based, much-appreciated support

Statskontoret's investigation shows that the secretariat has offered the agencies broad-based, much-appreciated support, which has been aimed primarily at the agencies' JiM coordinators and management. As national support function, the secretariat has had an important signal value and has contributed to the creation of pressure on the agencies to work with JiM. Statskontoret considers it more doubtful whether the support actually made a difference to the agencies' results with JiM, as the agencies only mention the support as a tangible contribution to their results to a small extent.

The secretariat has prioritised certain parts of its commission

The secretariat's commission includes supporting the agencies in planning and implementing JiM, coordinating initiatives to raise competence levels, organising networking meetings to share experience and communicating educational examples. The support must also be customised.

Statskontoret's investigation shows that the secretariat has worked more on certain parts of its commission than on others. The secretariat has offered the agencies a lot of support in planning JiM, but less support in carrying out the actual work. The secretariat has focused more on offering initiatives to raise competence levels and forums for sharing experience between agencies, and to a lesser degree on identifying and communicating educational examples. The secretariat has attempted to adapt the support to activities based on the agencies' commissions, but has not met the agencies' needs in full. The agencies do, however, appreciate that it is difficult with modest resources to offer customised support to so many different agencies.

Future support needs to be customised and to support learning and follow-up

Statskontoret considers that the secretariat's support to the JiM agencies was in many respects designed based on knowledge of previous research and initiatives in the area of gender mainstreaming. At the same time, Statskontoret considers that future support for the agencies' work on gender mainstreaming needs to a greater extent:

  • to be customised and tangible. The support should also be clearer with lessons for the JiM agencies in the examples presented
  • to support the agencies in following up and making transparent the results of JiM
  • to clarify how JiM can work together with other commissions and dimensions.

Statskontoret believes that one way of addressing these areas of development would be to develop the digital support material with, for example, more courses and filmed presentations, and more material from the agencies themselves.

JiM has had varying degrees of importance for the agencies' work on gender mainstreaming

Statskontoret's investigation shows that JiM has strengthened the agencies' work on gender mainstreaming to varying degrees. We have assessed this by looking at the extent to which JiM work has encompassed the agency's core activity and been passed on in the agency's organisation.

Several agencies in our selection have concentrated their JiM work on neighbouring areas of their core activity. They have also found it difficult to extend the work between different offices and decision-making levels. In these agencies, Statskontoret considers that JiM has had relatively little impact on gender mainstreaming. Other agencies have included virtually their entire core activity in JiM work and have extended the work to large parts of their organisations. In these agencies, JiM has reinforced work on gender mainstreaming to a more significant extent.

Agencies have made varying degree of progress in JiM work

Statskontoret's investigation shows that the agencies in our selection have made varying degrees of progress as a result of JiM. We have assessed the agencies' results based on an intended chain of results that illustrates the agencies' result trend from activities undertaken, via changed products and work methods to changed operational outcome.

All agencies have carried out similar activities at the beginning of their work, for example analyses, documentary reviews and initiatives to raise competence levels. Most agencies have also revised steering documents, created support materials and improved their ability to produce gender-based statistics. Many agencies have so far not proceeded beyond these kinds of initiatives, or have found it difficult to follow up and measure results of their work in more detail.

But there are also examples of agencies that can report more far-reaching results. Some agencies have translated new knowledge and new material into changed work methods. Three of the agencies in our selection have achieved changed operational outcomes as a result of JiM. These are Public Art Agency Sweden, the Swedish Performing Arts Agency and Vinnova.

JiM has a greater impact in agencies that succeed in combining this work with their core activity

Statskontoret considers that certain factors have been particularly significant for the ability of the agencies studied to achieve results. The most overarching factor is how the agencies combine JiM with their core activity. Many of the agencies that have found it difficult to make an impact with JiM feel that the work is being done at the expense of their core activity. Agencies that have achieved a greater impact with JiM feel instead that the work promotes their core activity.

Other significant factors are largely in line with lessons from previous gender mainstreaming initiatives. These include:

  • Management support and engagement. This determines how work is prioritised at the agency and thereby how much time, personnel resources and money are released for the work.
  • Pressure from outside. The government's interest and the JiM commission's reporting requirements have created pressure on agencies to achieve results. This has meant that the agencies have given JiM work a higher priority.
  • Organisation of JiM work. JiM work can achieve better acceptance in the agency's organisation if it is integrated into normal activities than if it is done in project form. This requires that personnel in line functions have the time, knowledge and mandate to handle the commission.