This Friday we close the chapter on Gender Budgeting. Next week we will start looking at "Gender and Monetary Policy". As usual, from Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.
During the past few weeks we examined the concept of gender budgeting. The concept was first contextualized within the framework of gender mainstreaming, a global strategy to promote gender equality. Integrating a gender perspective in budgetary policies and programs is instrumental in achieving gender mainstreaming as called for at the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. Since then, national governments and multilateral organizations have been instrumental in developing and promoting certain budgetary techniques that have been generally termed ‘gender responsive government budgeting’ (GRGB). The impetus for government budgeting was discussed against the background that continues to see large inequalities in key social, economic and political indicators. We examined disparity in health and education status for men and women and then went on to consider the gender equity indices as developed by the United Nations. As noted inprevious postings, reducing gender inequalities can lead to improved macroeconomic performance.
We then discussed the why and how of gender budgeting. Concern in the literature and in policy circles has been the gender-blindness of policies. The importance of being able to assess policies in the framework of gender relations is central to gender budgeting. Key questions for gender budgeting are: “what impact does this fiscal measure have on gender equality? Does it reduce gender inequality, increase it; or leave it unchanged?” Next we examined the approaches that gender budgeting might take. Most of these approaches were from the expenditure side, and the revenue side was mentioned also. Pre- and post-budgeting gender tools were examined. Pre-budgeting emphasized the participatory approach to budgeting; post-budgeting tools focus on the impact of government programs on females and the contribution made in improving gender equality. We concluded with a discussion on ‘benefit incidence analysis’- a tool to cost public goods and services in order to approximate their benefits.
We concluded this chapter with an examination of gender budgeting initiatives in a number of countries. Since 1984, beginning with Australia, some 40 countries worldwide have tried some form of gender budgeting. This has primarily been from the expenditure side, but some countries have looked at the revenue side also. The experience has been mixed, the initiatives failed to become part of the institutional fabric. To summarize Stotsky (2006):
- Gender budgeting should be incorporated into standard budget processes so that it becomes fully institutionalized.
- It should address specific goals, such as reducing inequalities in educational attainment, that have clear benefits and can be measured even with somewhat crude tools and data.
- It should draw on civil society for support and assistance with the more research-oriented aspects and should apply to sub national levels of government where relevant.
- It should cover both spending and revenue
- It should not as a rule set specific goals for spending on women-related objectives (unless budgets are severely constrained and such spending is well below what an unconstrained budget would otherwise choose) because this tends to reduce flexibility, making the budget process less effective.