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Fridays Academy: Gender Budgeting

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

This week the "Fridays Academy" arrives on a Saturday. Starting today and during a few weeks we will be looking at Gender Budgeting. As usual, from Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.



Targeting government budgeting to address gender equality has a relatively recent history and forms part of the general consensus that advocates the allocation of government funds to the direct and/or indirect support of policy areas such as environment and poverty for example.  The new emphasis on government budgeting for gender equality is more correctly defined as ‘Gender Mainstreaming’. 


The term ‘Gender Mainstreaming’ is a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a strategy, an approach, a means to achieve the goal of gender equality. Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities, policy development, research, advocacy/dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, and planning, implementation and monitoring of programs and projects. (Sarraf, 2003).   As the definition indicates, gender mainstreaming goes beyond the allocation of funds to some specific program or project under the direction of a government department dedicated to women’s affairs.  Rather the mainstreaming approach refers to a set of policy guidelines and analytical tools that would be used across all government ministries to generate gender aware policies capable of being implemented and their outcomes assessed with any budgetary required changes accommodated.  As noted by Stotsky (2006) “to be more useful, gender budgeting should be integrated into gender budget processes in a way that generates tangible improvements in policy outcomes”.


The 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held at Beijing helped to initiate gender mainstreaming by calling for the integration of a gender perspective in budgetary policies and programs (Stotsky, 2006; P. 12). Since then, various civil societies and NGOs, especially women’s organizations, and academia have sought to influence and generate support for gender mainstreaming in the process of government budgeting.  As noted by Sarraf (2003) they have been successful in prompting both national governments and multilateral organizations in conceptualizing and promoting certain budgetary techniques and measures that are general termed as gender-responsive government budgeting (GRGB) or gender-perspective budgeting (Sarraf, 2003; p. 3).  Stotsky (2006) notes that the experience to date has been mixed, with some initiatives thriving. 


Next week we will examine briefly the reasons for gender budgeting by focusing on summary measures of inequality that are illustrative of the issues discussed in the previous weeks. We will then examine GRGB in further detail by focusing on the current and old concepts of GRGB and its expanding coverage that began in Australia during the 1980s. Finally we will examine the analytical and technical tools available and the approach being taken by a number of multilateral organizations in promoting GRGB.