By Dr. Karin L. Johnston
Achieving gender equality is central to the values and aims of the European Union (EU). Advancing human rights and preserving democracy and the rule of law is embedded in the EU’s foundational treaties and in subsequent conventions, strategies, and action plans. In 2019, the EU witnessed the election of its first female president, Ursula von der Leyen, who has made gender equality and gender mainstreaming a top priority. In 2020, the EU extended its institutional commitment to gender equality, via its first Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 and its external relations, through the EU’s third Gender Action Plan (GAP III), which embodies UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda to reduce violence against women and ensure women’s participation in peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts. Institutionally, the EU’s work on gender equality and women’s empowerment falls under the European Commission’s remit, while the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service, is tasked with implementing GAP III.