Contemporary issues in youth policy

As an area of youth policy, gender equality relates to measures that aim to reduce gender-based discrimination, and ensuring that young people of all genders enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society, including participation in economic life, and political participation.

Gender equality is a transversal issue within youth policy, meaning that it cuts across all other domains of youth policy, such as health, education, and employment. However, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality, the integration of gender concerns in youth policy is increasing, yet most research and policy lack an explicit and clear gender perspective.

Many young people in Europe experience challenges that prevent them from accessing opportunities equally, and in some cases, these challenges are gender-specific. Consider for example:

While policy interventions traditionally focus on achieving equality between men and women, such as the gender equality strategies of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, ensuring access to rights and reducing discrimination of non-binary and LGBTQI+ people is of increasing focus for policy, especially for young people.LGBTQI is a common abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex people. The ‘+’ in the definition refers to further categories, and alludes to the right of each individual to define themselves according to one’s preferences, or lack thereof.

Gender mainstreaming or gender-sensitive approaches can therefore be incorporated into all policies (including youth policy) at all levels and stages, and is the “systematic consideration of the differences between conditions, situations and needs of women and men [and the recognition] that women and men have to be equally involved in setting goals and elaborating strategies”.

The 2016 Council of Europe recommendation on young people's access to rights calls on member states to adopt a human rights based approach to improve young people’s access to rights that reflects the principles of gender equality

Recommended Resources

Council of Europe: Recommendation CM/Rec (2016)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on young people's access to rights.


This page was last updated by Cristina Bacalso and Dan Moxon in December 2018.

Young people’s views Young people’s views

Youth Goal #2 “Equality of all genders”, calls for Europe to:

Ensure equality of all genders and gender sensitive approaches in all areas of life of a young person.

The goal identifies that “gender-based discrimination still affects many young people, especially young women. Equal opportunities and access to rights need to be ensured for young people of all genders including non-binary and LGBTQI+ young people.”