The CASPER project has developed three alternative Gender Equality Certification/Award Schemes (GECAS) to be managed and supported by the European Commission, plus a fourth scenario where the EC would not take directly action, incentivising instead EU member states to set up their own gender equality certification/award systems. The GECAS scenarios are based upon an extensive mapping exercise as well as 10 co-creation workshops with stakeholders throughout Europe to identify the key prerequisites for effective award/certification system. This blog post introduces concept scenario 1 - New EU-wide GECAS.
STRATEGIC CHOICE BEHIND SCENARIO SETUP
The first concept scenario foresees the introduction of a brand-new EU-wide GECAS, which represents the most ambitious choice of the three that have been proposed. It was developed trying to encompass most of the features emerged in interviews and co-creation activities with the view to maximise impact in terms of gender equality and inclusiveness.
The ambitious setup of this concept scenario, on the other hand, risks making it more difficult for less experienced institutions, or institutions who are less able to mobilise financial and human resources and adequate competences. Resistances and backlash from different internal stakeholders may also be stronger, because the wide set of requirements makes it difficult to just “tick a few boxes” (that is, settle for mostly formal, on-paper achievements).
This concept scenario fully covers, by design, all four mandatory GEP (Gender Equality Plan) building blocks requested to access funding under Horizon Europe, as well as all five recommended GEP content areas (find them here: Gender Equality Plans as an Eligibility Criterion in Horizon Europe). Covering at least three areas – as the minimum requirement to apply for funds– will lead to a basic-level certification.
Among the most significant features of this concept scenario (for the full list, please check the reading materials sent along with the questionnaire), its focus on both process and outcome in the implementation of Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) can be highlighted, as well as its strong emphasis on participatory processes around GEP design and implementation, the adoption of a gender+, intersectional perspective, broadening the set of potential inequality grounds that are actively addressed, the possibility to apply at the level of the whole organisation and/or at Department/Faculty level. Support to applicants would be indirectly provided by the European Commission, as the authority promoting the scheme (through mutual learning, capacity building activities, etc.) and more directly – in the application process – by national authorities.
A set of features are unique to this concept scenario (as compared to the other two):
- A scoring system is used to assess the level of achievement, allowing to differentiate the level of the certificate
- The assessment process combines self-assessment and external review from a committee of trained evaluators, expert in the field
- Besides certificates, a limited number of awards related to specific achievements are issued each year
- RFOs are included as potential users of the scheme
- Areas and criteria for intermediate and advanced levels are to be regularly reviewed every 4 years
- Mechanisms are foreseen for recognising certifications issued by other schemes