Gender Equality in International Cultural Policy

European, Latin American and African experts as well as UNESCO Senior Staff discussed in a one-day structured brainstorming in the Federal Art Gallery in Bonn challenges and strategies for transformative action for gender equality, including in the cultural and creative industries. As a result, the German Commission for UNESCO published a booklet.

The year 2020 offers several windows of opportunity to address gender inequalities, implement already agreed legislation and political commitments and push more energetically for gender transformative action.

Why 2020 is so important

The German EU-Council-Presidency in the 2nd half of 2020 will focus on gender equality in different policy fields and different aspects.The Austrian and Finnish Council presidencies prepared the ground. The EU Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022 has selected gender equality as one of five sectoral priorities for EU action.

Further, an Open Method of Coordination (OMC) working group has been installed in 2019 to investigate the situation of gender equality in the cultural and creative sector. Germany will focus on Gender Equality in the cultural and creative sector and plans to address this issue in the EU-Council Meeting of the Ministers for Culture and the Media.

To mark Beijing +25, that is 25 years after the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995, there will be a major event in Paris, July 7-11, 2020, with the launch of an up-to-date UNESCO Gender Equality Interim Report on cultural policy and the promotion of UN Women’s “HeForShe” campaign.

Gender equality is also one of two priorities of UNESCO’s strategic orientation 2014-2021. In the next Medium-Term Strategy (2022-2029), which is currently under preparation, gender equality will most probably be further strengthened as a transformative action.

Examples of Good and Inspiring Practice

Within the expert consultation, examples of good and inspiring practice have been mentioned, such as:

  • In the UK reporting on gender data on pay gaps, bonus, and position became compulsory for every company with more than 250 employees since 2017.
  • In Argentina, legal actions comprise compulsory gender trainings for all staff in public service, regardless of position or hierarchy.
  • In Kenya, the “African Women for Cultural Leadership”-project aims at getting more women into cultural leadership positions by offering leadership workshops or mentoring programmes.
  • In response to the identified gender gaps, a movement in Austria is demanding 52% of every public resource available in the Arts and Culture sector for monitoring opportunities and decisions through a gender lens.


Given the timeline into 2020, an exemplary set of policy measures and action strategies has been outlined:

  • (Compulsory) gender education and training for all media and culture workers
  • Documenting examples of collective artistic and creative power and role models
  • Develop a model for gender transformative cultural policy strengthening the diversity of cultural expressions
  • Exploring a “Seal/bonus-mechanism” for the allocation of public funding

You can find detailed information with reference to the approaches, strategies and good practice in International Policy in the booklet Re|Shaping Cultural Policies 2020: Strengthening Gender Equality and Cultural Diversity. The expert consultation and the booklet have been funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. 


Re|Shaping Cultural Policies 2020: Strengthening Gender Equality and Cultural Diversity .
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2020

Participants of the expert consultation

Here you can find the list of participants.