The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation; (OEEC) came into being on 16 April 1948. It emerged from the Marshall Plan and the Conference of Sixteen (Conference for European Economic Co-operation), which sought to establish a permanent organisation to continue work on a joint recovery programme and in particular to supervise the distribution of aid. The headquarters of the Organisation is in Paris, France.

The Organisation functions at that time were to operate under the following principles:

  • promote co-operation between participating countries and their national production programmes for the reconstruction of Europe,
  • develop intra-European trade by reducing tariffs and other barriers to the expansion of trade, 
  • study the feasibility of creating a customs union or free trade area, 
  • study multi-lateralisation of payments, and 
  • achieve conditions for better utilisation of labour.

The Development Centre was established following a council decision on 23rd October 1962. The centre has been responsible for the Gender Initiatives which has come into being since its establishment.

The OECD Gender Initiative

In 2010 the OECD launched a Gender Initiative to examine existing barriers to gender equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship (the "three Es") with the aim to improve policies and to promote gender equality in the economy in both OECD and non-OECD countries alike.

The OECD Gender Initiative presented its initial findings in the Gender Report published in May 2011 for the 50th Anniversary Meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level in Paris. In addition, a special report on gender equality in the three Es in OECD countries in the Pacific Rim and other APEC countries was prepared for the APEC Women and the Economy Summit (WES) held in September 2011 in San Francisco.

On 8 March 2012, the OECD launched the Gender Data Browser with 16 key indicators focusing on gender gaps in OECD countries and the key partner countries.

OECD Gender Publication - Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now

Gender gaps are pervasive in all walks of economic life and imply large losses in terms of foregone productivity and living standards to the individuals concerned and the economy. This new OECD report focuses on how best to close these gender gaps under four broad headings: 1) Gender equality, social norms and public policies; and gender equality in 2) education; 3) employment and 4) entrepreneurship.

Key policy messages are as follows:

  • Greater gender equality in educational attainment has a strong positive effect on economic growth;
  • Stereotyping needs to be addressed in educational choices at school from a young age. For example, adapt teaching strategies and material to increase engagement of boys in reading and of girls in maths and science; encourage more girls to follow science, engineering and maths courses in higher education and seek employment in these fields;
  • Good and affordable childcare is a key factor for better gender equality in employment. But change also has to happen at home as the bulk of housework and caring is left to women in many countries. Policy can support such change, for example, through parental leave policies that explicitly include fathers.
  • Support policies for women-owned enterprises need to target all existing firms, not just start-ups and small enterprises. Equal access to finance for male and female entrepreneurs needs to be assured.