Gender budgeting an overview
Within a short period of time, the concept of Gender Budgeting has become a powerful tool for gender mainstreaming. In India also, the government is now making conscious and sincere efforts in this direction as evident from the recent budgetary speech of the finance minister.
Over the past two decades, womens empowerment has been increasingly recognised as the crucial factor for any countrys holistic and sustainable development. Several programmes and projects across the world have been launched and are currently in progress to bring social, economic and political equity and broader access to basic livlihood needs. Alongside these developments, gender has emerged as an overarching socio-cultural variable considered at par with other factors such as caste, race, class, etc. Gender is not synomymous to women, nor it is a zero sum game implying loss for men and to their status relative to each other (Lopez-Carlos and Zahidi 2005).
Gender inequality is a major concern for all the countries and societies. Promoting gender equality and empowerment has assumed top priority in the development agenda of the national and local governments, corporates, and NGOs. Various agencies of the United Nations also continue to work in this direction. To provide a thrust and clear direction to gender equality initiatives, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) was established as a separate fund within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1984 with a mandate to ensure womens involvement in mainstream activities. The concept was expanded to gender mainstreaming at the Platform of Action resulting from the 1995 Beijing World Conference on women.
Gender mainstreaming means applying gender perspectives to all the policy, planning, implementation and evaluation activities and processes. The concept of disaggregating government expenditure to determine the extent to which it is furthering or detracting from the achievement of gender eqality, is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal for gender mainstreaming (Morna 2000). This tool is called gender budgeting. Gender budgets are not separate budget for men and women, rather these are tools and processes designed to facilitate a gender analysis in the formulation of government budgets and the allocation of resources.
The information and communication technologies especially those programmes and packages dealing with the quantitative and qualitative analysis are very relevant for gender sensitive analysis of budgets. Given the asymmetrical status of men and women in the society and the economy, no budget line is neutral.The coventional macroeconomic thinking has ignored this obvious reality for a long time and hence overlooked the unpaid work of women which significantly contributes to the national economic growth. In this context gender budgeting offers an opportunity to asses the differential impact of budget on men and women and also to realign the macroeconomic policies and programmes for achieving gender equity in all spheres of life.
Tools for gender
sensitive budget analysis
can be utilised for a gender-sensitive analysis of budgets, are:
policy appraisal: This is an analytical
approach which involves scrutinising the policies of different
portfolios and programmes. It questions the assumption that policies
are gender-neutral in their effects and asks instead: In what ways
are the policies and their associated resource allocations likely to
reduce or increase gender inequalities?
beneficiary assessments: This research technique
is used to ask actual or potential beneficiaries the extent to which
government policies and programmes match these peoples priorities.
public expenditure incidence analysis: This research technique
compares public expenditure for a given programme, usually with data
from household surveys, to reveal the distribution of expenditure
between women and men, girls and boys.
tax incidence analysis: This research technique
examines both direct and indirect taxes in order to calculate how much
taxation is paid by different individuals or households.
analysis of the impact of the budget on time use: This looks
at the relationship between the national budget and the way time is
used in households. This ensures that the time spent by women in unpaid
work is accounted for in policy analysis.
medium term economic policy framework: This attempts to
incorporate gender into the economic models on which medium term
economic frameworks are based.
budget statement: This involves an
accountability process which may utilise any of the above tools. It
requires a high degree of commitment and co-ordination throughout the
public sector as ministries or departments undertake an assessment of
the gender impact of their line budgets.
effectiveness and efficiency of all these tools can be greatly
new information and communication technologies which can cut down the
time and human resource required for such analysis otherwise. Besides
faciliate sharing of these experiences across regions and boundaries.
Siginificance of gender budgeting
Though the concept originated in Australia, a great extent of work has been done in developing countries like South Africa, Uganda, Brazil, Sri Lanka as well. Gender Budget Initiatives (GBI), though still in their early stages of growth, have scored some important successess like the re-prioritisation of expenditure (Philippines), effecting policy changes (Australia), exposing policy weaknesses (Sri Lanka), exposing/ highlighting general budgetary weaknesses and developing economic literacy and participation (Uganda). The experiences from various GBI clearly identify certain factors that are essential for the success of these initiatives (UNDP 2004). Some of these factors are:
Involvement of the civil society in long term commitments rather than sporadic activities
Building alliances and coalitions
Increasing womens participation in budgetary debates and decisions
Capacity building for:
- Gender sensitive budget (GSB) advocates familiarity with budgetary process
- officials- Gender sensitisation
- Legislature - Ability to hold the executive accountable on GSB
Larger political changes
Learning from GBI underlines several important steps to be undertaken to strenghten the existing and future GBI. It also provides a guideline for countries like India where GB is in infancy. Some of the important steps are:
Systematic evaluation of the impact of gender sensitive budget analysis
Identification of country specific methodologies
Continued capacity building
Continued advocacy/awareness raising
Improved networking and knowledge sharing among participatory countries.
Continued support for collection of gender-disaggregated data
Development of gender-sensitive participatory research techniques to increase grassroots participation
Gender sensitive analysis should lead to gender sensitive budget formulation. It is a challenge of different magnitude. Efforts must be aimed at bringing gender budgeting from the margin to the centre of development by mainstreaming it into participatory budgeting, local governance and decentralisation, poverty reduction and poverty reduction strategy papers and MDG monitoring. The sustainability of GBI is crucial for meeting the goals of gender equality. This should be ensured by promoting different institutional arrangements like governement-CSOs, intra-government, government-NGOs as well as by promoting advocacy at all levels.
Last July, I promised to consider gender budgeting. Honble Members will be happy to note that I have included in the Budget documents a separate statement highlighting the gender sensitivities of the budgetary allocations under 10 demands for grants. The total amount in BE 2005-06, according to the statement, is Rs.14,379 crore. Although this is another first in budget-making in India, it is only a beginning and, in course of time, all Departments will be required to present gender budgets as well as make benefit-incidence analyses.
Excerpts from the budget (2005-06) speech of Indian Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram.
Gender budgeting in India
The Asia regional office of UNIFEM (based in Delhi) has mooted the idea of gender budgeting by organizing workshops on this issue in different parts of the country (Leadbetter 2004). A number of women parliamentarians are leading debates around the issue at the parliament level. Apart from this a number of studies have been undertaken and some of the recommendations made by them have been incorporated in economic policy documents of the government.
The Union governments commitment towards gender budgeting is reflected in its recent budget (2005-06). Twenty-two states in India are already implementing gender budget initiatives in their budgets.
The concept of gender budgeting has become a powerful tool for gender mainstreaming within a short period of time. In India also, the government is now making conscious and sincere efforts towards the same, as is evident from the recent budgetary speech of the finance minister.
The South Asian society is characterised by its deeply embedded gender inequalities. Gender budgeting enables various stakeholders engaged in the process of governance to evaluate the impact of budgets with reference to gender equality.
The debate on policy and programmes is worthless if it is not followed by a discussion about money. The sustainability of GBI has to be ensured through the implementation of coherent strategies for policy reforms and concerted lobbying campaigns.
Leadbetter, Helen (2004). Gender Budgeting, DFID UK.
Lopez-Carlos, Augusto, Saadia Zahidi (2005). Womens Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap, World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.
Morna,Colleen Lowe (2000). Gender Budgeting: Myths and Realities paper presented at the 25 years International Womens Politics Workshop, Bonn, 13-14 October 2000.
UNDP (2004). Gender-Sensitive Budgeting, UNDP, 2004.
Author: Manish Kumar is the Manager ICT Research at OneWorld South Asia.
Time: 08.09.2005 22:26
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