In 2016, cultural magazine Rekto:Verso published a special issue on gender inequality in the arts. Together with results of research on the working conditions of artists (see 2.3) that revealed a gender pay gap in artistic professions, debate among professionals and policy makers was sparked. Then minister of Culture Sven Gatz (2014-2019) ordered further research on gender inequality in creative sectors. The debate was reinvigorated in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2017 and anonymous testimonials about gender-based and sexual harassment and gender discrimination that named prominent television producers and artists from Belgium. Gatz ordered a second survey in 2018, focused on harassment and abuse in the fields of culture and media. In the same year, the BelgianArtPrize (see 7.2.3) was cancelled, after a petition was launched against the all-male and all-white selection of nominated artists — a sign that the debate on gender inequality often intersects with other forms of inequality (see also 2.3 and 2.5.1).
The mentioned research on working conditions and gender inequality shows that among artistic professions, especially music, film, and architecture are predominantly male sectors. In other artistic sectors, the gender balance is fifty-fifty, unless age is taken into account: men are overrepresented in the older age groups and there is a larger share of women in the younger categories. Among older age groups, the gender pay gap is larger. Other surveys point at gender inequality in the decision-making positions in arts organisations funded by the Flemish government. In 2017, a mere 18% of arts organisations with multi-year funding had a management board that was all-female — compared to 53% with an all-male board. In 29% of the cases, there was a mixed-sex management board. Among the organisations receiving most funding, management functions are predominantly male. Two years later, another survey looked at the boards of directors of these arts organisations. In 71% of the examined cases, the board of directors consisted of a majority of men. In 18%, there was a preponderance of women and in 11% the balance was fifty-fifty.
The mentioned research on gender-based and sexual harassment and abuse in the fields of culture and media concluded that 71% of female respondents were, throughout their career, once or more the victim of behaviour deemed as harassment. Among male respondents, the share was one in three. 50% of female respondents reported an incident in the preceding year — compared to one in five male respondents. People with artistic or technical jobs in the cultural field and media are more often confronted with harassment at work. Especially young people, at the start of their career, and freelancers or people with short-term contracts are vulnerable. The perpetrators of harassment are in most cases superiors in rank, which links to a gendered power imbalance. 30% of all respondents indicate that reporting and discussing harassment at their work is (very) difficult.
Gender equality is often part of equal opportunities policies in Belgium. Legal frameworks on this matter reside with different government levels and policy areas. (Coordinated) actions for establishing gender equality are taken from within these different levels and areas. General legislation on the Flemish level that is relevant for the area of Culture includes rules that stipulate that a maximum of two thirds of members of governmental advisory bodies (such as the commissions evaluating funding applications) may be of the same sex.
In the policy field of Culture, former minister Gatz launched an Action Plan against harassment and abuse (‘Actieplan Grensoverschrijdend gedrag in de cultuur en audiovisuele sector’) in 2018. Taking into account the results of the mentioned research and round-table discussions with organisations in the cultural field, a set of actions for a three-year period (until 2021) was defined. These focused on promoting and re-enforcing the reporting channels, on raising awareness and sharing knowledge on the subject, and on addressing perpetrators. The actions included setting up training courses for confidential advisors, expanding the team of the Flemish Ombudsman Service for providing services tailored to the cultural and media sector, and support for the artist-led movement Engagement. Current minister of Culture Jan Jambon (2019-2024) announced to continue the support for the actions until 2021 and evaluate these afterwards.
 For an overview of (other) research on gender inequality in the arts in Flanders and Brussels, see Kunstenpunt, ed. 2019. Landschapstekening Kunsten: Ontwikkelingsperspectieven voor de kunsten anno 2019. Brussel: Kunstenpunt, 121-126.
 Hesters, Delphine, Simon Leenknegt, and Tom Ruette. 2018. ‘Cherchez les femmes. Genderverhoudingen in directies van structureel gesubsidieerde kunstenorganisaties’. In Cijferboek Kunsten 2018, 389–400. Brussels: Kunstenpunt.
 The Vrouwenraad provides an overview of relevant actors and policies on the different government levels in Belgium. Equal Opportunities is a separate policy field among the competences of the Communities. The website of the team Equal Opportunities of the Flemish government gathers information on equal opportunity policies of the Flemish Community.
 Jambon, Jan. 2019. ‘Beleidsnota Cultuur 2019-2024’, 16. For a discussion of the state of affairs of cultural policy on the topic of harassment and abuse anno 2020, see also: Wellens, Nikol. 2020. ‘Grenscorrectie’. Kunsten.be. 13 July 2020.