Gender and Budgets
Everyone who has struggled to mainstream gender into public policy recognises that programmed action without money attached amounts to inaction. While government budgets allocate resources in ways that perpetuate gender biases, budgets also offer the potential to transform gender inequalities. This pack shows how in recent years gender budget initiatives (GBI), both inside and outside government, have risen to this challenge. It maps out why GBIs are needed, how they are implemented and by whom, what strategies can strengthen their impact, and how initiatives should develop from here.
This Cutting Edge Pack hopes to inspire thinking on gender budgeting - with an Overview Report outlining key issues, a Supporting Resources Collection providing summaries of key texts, tools, case studies and contacts of organisations in this field, and a Gender and Development In Brief newsletter with three short articles on the theme.
This Overview Report questions why government budgets often allocate resources in ways that perpetuate gender biases and looks at how budgets offer the potential to transform gender inequalities by attaching money to policy commitments. In recent years gender budget initiatives (GBI), both inside and outside government, have risen to this challenge. Although most GBIs are still primarily focused on analysing the budget and its impact, the ultimate aim is to mainstream gender into the criteria that determine the planning, formulation and implementation of the budget. In order to make this a reality, new methodologies need to be identified and documented. The GBIs themselves need to be consistently followed up, evaluated and the identifiable impacts of different GBIs shared. New approaches, alliances and tools also need to be explored, such as the potential for mainstreaming gender into participatory budget initiatives, and the comprehensive development of a rights-based approach to gender and budgets.
Recommendations from the Overview Report
Every single GBI has to be recognised as a process of its own, with its own characteristics. There are no readily applicable recipes and no formulas that guarantee success. This stems from the fact that GBIs are political processes, which are connected to and influenced by larger political contexts. It is possible, however, to isolate some features that can make a significant difference in the overall strength of GBIs:
- Civil society involvement: Civil society can add considerable value to an initiative, by bringing to the table gender experts, exerting public pressure, and holding the government accountable for concrete actions.
- Hard and constant work, which is well-resourced: budget analysis and advocacy are not sporadic activities, since they must build on solid knowledge.
- Women’s participation: any increase in the potential of women to participate in budgetary debates and decision-making is crucial.
- Strategic vision: in many strong initiatives one person, or a small group of people, with strategic vision and commitment have been key to their success.
- Opportunity of political change: if a larger political change is underway, windows of opportunity are more likely to open for initiatives located both inside and outside the government.
What lessons can be learned from the implementation of gender budget initiatives (GBIs) across the world? What tools are available to support successful implementation? This collection of resources on gender and budgets seeks to answer these questions. It complements the Overview Report by providing summaries of a selection of key materials that reinforce the role of gender-sensitive budgets as a tool for advancing gender equality. It summarises useful overview texts, accessible explanations of key concepts (such as the care economy), geographically and context diverse case studies, practical tools, guidelines, training materials, popular education materials, web resources and networking and contact details. The diversity of material shows that there is no one way of “doing” gender budget work. Context is key in determining which strategies are effective. This collection describes a range of experiences in different contexts which will be useful to those doing GBIs themselves.
In Brief is a six page newsletter that aims to stimulate thinking on a priority gender theme. This edition focuses on gender and budgets, starting with an overview and recommendations followed by two distinctive case studies highlighting practical responses to key issues.
The first article shows how in recent years gender budget initiatives (GBI) have transformed gender inequalities. Although most GBIs are still primarily focused on analysing the budget and its impact, the ultimate aim is to mainstream gender into the criteria for its formulation. There is no magic recipe for a successful GBI, as the country context is crucial, but certain strategies can strengthen them.
The second article by the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) shows how extra political leverage can come from coalitions of civil society organisations. Involving citizens, and particularly women, in the formulation of the budget has been an effective strategy in the municipality of Recife, Brazil.