“EU Gender Budgeting” to Mainstream Abortion?

admin
June 30, 2015

In a meeting of the Committee on Women´s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM Committee) held June 16, a study of the EU budget for gender equality was presented. The Committee confirmed what had already been stressed in a report on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015 (2014/2151)(INI)) (Noichl Report) – namely, that ‘gender budgeting’ at all levels of the EU is one of the top goals of the European Union. As the study follows the dictum of a principle of gender equality that is based on the unscientific theory of gender the EU budgeting will indirectly help to mainstream a “right to abortion”.

The study “The EU Budget for Gender Equality” was presented by its two authors, Prof. Fiona Beveridge and Dr. Firat Cengiz, both experts from the University of Liverpool. Commissioned by the FEMM Committee, the study makes the argument that the EU budget doesn’t reflect “the EU’s high level commitment to gender equality and gender mainstreaming”, defined by the Council of Europe (page 12) as “the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages”. According to the study, gender mainstreaming should be embedded as an implementation method in all aspects of the EU´s resource system, including all titles of the EU budget.

The study itself, however, doesn’t elaborate on the term “gender” and its own radical social theory of gender – being the foundation for the way that many members of the Committee interpret gender equality, which goes much beyond a commonly agreed definition of equality between men and women.

The suggestions made by the study – which have been eagerly proposed by the FEMM Committee – are to embed gender equality as a “distinct policy objective in all titles of the EU budget“ and to ensure that “gender equality objectives and gender mainstreaming obligations are followed consistently in all budget titles that are relevant for the issue in question”. Thus, the call for even more funding of gender equality and anti-discrimination measures would put organizations that do not share that same ideology of gender theory at a significant disadvantage, even though they may already welcome the equal worth of all.

Particularly significant are two other proposals included in the study: firstly, to specify “amounts allocated to individual actions and policy objectives“ in the budget and, secondly, the incorporation of the idea that

[i]n all actions that receive funding from the EU budget gender specific indicators should be adopted to be applied in project selection, monitoring and evaluating phases. Target groups should be identified on the basis of gender and other characteristics. Similarly, gender-disaggregated data with regard to beneficiaries and participants of all actions that receive funding from the EU budget should be collected systematically as part of the monitoring and evaluation of the action.

“Gender-disaggregated data” means that all the funding for beneficiaries would be tracked according to the criterion of gender equality. Thus, beneficiaries necessarily would have to divulge that they received funds because they are in accordance with the “principle of gender equality”. The question that arises is: Does such a commitment to a vague “principle of gender equality” become a sine qua non for the receipt of EU funding?

By implementing such a proposal, the FEMM Committee would be following the recommendations for EU budgeting provided in its gender equality strategy. These recommendations are in alignment with the general call on the EU Commission “to promote the use of gender mainstreaming, gender budgeting and gender impact assessment in all areas and for each legislative proposal at all levels of governance” (§76).

Additionally, other sections stipulate the following: that compliance with gender equality should be considered a criterion for all EU-funded culture, education, and research programmes (§64);

that the provision of humanitarian aid by the EU and the Member States should not be subject to restrictions imposed by other partner donors regarding necessary medical treatment, including access to safe abortion for women and girls who are victims of rape in armed conflicts (§72);

[that] the importance of adequate funding for national gender equality and anti-discrimination bodies; calls on the Commission to monitor closely the effectiveness of national complaint bodies and procedures in the implementation of gender equality directives; calls in this connection also on the Commission to support the implementation of the European Charter for equality of women and men in local life and the continuity of NGOs, in particular women’s rights organisations and other organisations working on gender equality issues, through adequate and predictable financial assistance (§78);

The EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015 leaves no doubt about the FEMM Committee’s wishes. It explicitly calls on the European Commission:

to assist Member States in ensuring highly-quality, geographically appropriate and readily accessible services in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights and safe and legal abortion and contraception (§52).

So where is the link between gender theory, gender budgeting, and the so-called “right to abortion”? The link is between sexual and reproductive health rights and abortion. The FEMM Committee openly calls in its report on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015 (2014/2151)(INI)) for legal abortion (§52) and insists that it be included as a woman´s right in sexual and reproductive health (§53). It furthermore seeks to ensure that “gender equality objectives and gender mainstreaming obligations are followed consistently in all budget titles”.

Now, as the FEMM Committee so strongly supports a vision of gender equality that in respect of health issues wants to measure abortion as a woman´s right, it therefore in consequence pushes the EU gender budgeting to provide institutions that would share this pro-abortion vision of gender equality. As a result of the strict proposal made in the EU Strategy for equality, that for example “humanitarian aid by the EU and Member States should not be subject to restrictions imposed by other partner donors regarding necessary medical treatment, including access to safe abortion for women and girls”, a disadvantage will be introduced for institutions that do not share the Committees´ radical vision of gender equality.

When we look deeper into the question of the term “reproductive health”, we find that the definition given by the United Nations at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, does not include abortion. Likewise, the European Commission has, on various occasions, declared that the definition of sexual and reproductive health does not include abortion. (Please see our Analysis of EU´s Sexual and Reproductive Health, I.1 B) In the Noichl report, however the members of the FEMM Committee seem to ignore this fact. In the study on the EU budgeting no questions are asked concerning the definition of gender and the vision of gender equality that the FEMM Committee underlies to its work.

In consequence, some groups within the European Parliament (the FEMM Committee being one of them) continue to try to promote abortion on demand by any means necessary. In fact, a careful analysis of the proposals of the FEMM Committee in both the Noichl Report and in their latest study on ‘gender budgeting’ presented on June 16 indicates a new resolve to find ways to include a “right to abortion” in the field of action of the EU.

It thus continues to be very important for all stakeholders who care about life and human dignity to remain vigilant as to the actions and strategies of those who seek to impose a radical vision of society based on a narrow gender ideology.