Horizon Europe applicants must show gender equality plan to get funding

gender equality plan, gender equality
© Nanditha Rao

From 2022, Horizon Europe funding applications by public bodies, research organisations and higher education institutions will only be considered if they have a gender equality plan (GEP)

Today (15 March) the European Commission released their strategic plan for research and innovation funding from 2021-2024. The first grants for researchers opened up on 25 February.

According to the Commission, the four key ambitions are:

  1. Promoting an open strategic autonomy by leading the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains;
  2. Restoring Europe’s ecosystems and biodiversity, and managing sustainably natural resources;
  3. Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy;
  4. Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society.

Mariya Gabriel Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth: “I am determined to step up our efforts on gender equality and support more talented women in research and innovation. I am committed to ensuring that the gender dimension is fully integrated into research and innovation supported by Horizon Europe, and that it is fully acknowledged in the European Research Area.”

Commissioner Gabriel further outlined the ongoing issues that the Commission wants to eradicate via targeted science and innovation funding:

  • More women participating in research and innovation programmes;
  • Better integration of the gender dimension in the content of research and innovation projects;
  • More participation of EU widening countries in actions dedicated to gender equality in research and innovation organisations;
  • Broadening gender equality policies in research and innovation to intersections with other potential grounds for discrimination such as ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation

The 2021-2024 strategy drop also proposes some specific policies toward the above ambitions for gender equality. One of them is that all Horizon Europe funding applications will be required to have a gender equality plan (GEP) to be considered, starting in 2022.

A further three gender-based policies are:

  1. Flagship measures and activities promoting gender equality under the European Innovation Council (EIC), including a target of 40% women-led companies invited to pitch their projects, a target of 50% women among members of advisory structures, a prize for women innovators and a dedicated initiative to support women-led start-ups.
  2. Specific funding will be made available for actions supporting the development of inclusive gender equality plans in research and innovation organisations across Member States and associated countries under the “Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area” part of the Programme. Specific funding will be allocated
    for gender studies and intersectional research, in particular in Pillar II Cluster 2 – Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society.
  3. Particular attention will be paid to ensuring gender balance in evaluation panels and in other relevant advisory bodies, such as boards and expert groups. Gender balance among researchers involved in projects will be strongly encouraged and will be taken into account for equally ranked proposals.



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