“The Graz Way” – Implementing Gender Mainstreaming at local level

The City of Graz has a long tradition of working on Women Policy Issues and Gender equality. In 1986 Graz was the first city in Austria who created an Independent Women’s representative. In 2001, the former City government decided to implement Gender mainstreaming as a strategy for the whole municipality.


Considering the variety of competencies, services and processes of local city administrations, the implementation of the gender mainstreaming is something that needs continuous development and upgrading. To ensure a proper application and anchor the strategy at the highest decision-making level, the City of Graz decided to use the “top-down” principle of management.


The first step: A gender survey

The municipality carried out an evaluation of the current situation of gender equality. The survey was done by external experts. The results allowed to provide a basis for the future work and also contributed to raise general awareness on gender equality issues. Based on the study, workshops were held with managers in thematic working groups to define a common plan for the future work and outline general strategies both for external affairs and for the internal work of the city administration.

The establishment of the thematic working groups allowed defining concrete actions for implementation. This approach proved to be very successful and constituted the basis for future equality projects of the municipality.


The second step: Pilot offices

Two pilot offices, “the Sports Department” and “the Department for Youth and Family” were selected by the City of Graz to participate in the Equality-project. Both of these offices are offering a large variety of services and also put the citizens’ interest as a main focus. In both of these offices all services were subject to a gender analysis led by an external expert. Based on the results of the study, guidelines for actions were developed.

To improve quality and make service more gender equal, it was decided that all services and internal processes should undergo gender analysis.


The third step: Implementation & Practice

The City of Graz uses a management technique called “the Balanced Score Card” to implement policies. This method consists of defining annual strategic and operative goals on financial level, for products, services and human resources. These objectives form the base for the contracts between the departments and the political level and are evaluated on a quarterly basis to ensure that they are realistic and are being fulfilled. The City of Graz has decided that goals concerning gender equality and diversity have to be included in the general objectives and that key indicators in statistics must be separated for women and men in order to facilitate analysis and controls of gender mainstreaming. Moreover, all senior staff has to participate in a training on gender equality, to make sure that the whole organization understood the meaning of the gender mainstreaming principle.


Networking and transfer of knowledge


The City of Graz has participated in several projects to exchange experiences and received several awards for their work on gender equality:


2008: The City of Graz received the Austrian Public Sector Award for its gender projects


2009: The City received a best practice certificate by the EPSA – European Public Sector Award. To access the application form and other documents in English please visit the following link.


2011: The City of Graz participated as one of the 19 benchmarking case studies in a study led by the UN-Department for Economic and Social Affairs and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the study was conducted by the Columbia University New York. For more information about the study please visit the following link.


Good practices