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Fridays Academy: Gender Budgeting

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

From Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.

Gender Budgeting - Why and How (cont.)

Stotsky (2006) presents two hypothetical examples of gender analysis in a national budget that explicitly addresses the gender dimension of the policy objective, the means by which it will be executed, the resources needed and the indicators necessary to identify performance. This approach goes beyond the general assumption that expanding primary education, for example, will be distributed equally across the population. It represents a gender mainstreaming approach and is a gender responsive budget, responding to the inequalities that exist in primary education for girls and outlining the potential of reducing these inequalities in improving earning power for girls because of better education and other social benefits. 

Hypothetical examples of gender analysis in a national budget

Source:   Stotsky (2006).

Gender responsive budgeting is a “series of additional and analytical instruments and help one to understand and make a judgment on the impact of government budget programs in reducing the gender gap, thereby helping gender mainstreaming and ultimately gender equality” (Sarraf, 2003; p. 8). The hypothetical example in the table above is thus a good illustration of what GRGB could look like in practice. However, this approach is very resource-demanding, requiring significant supplies in terms of pre- and post-budgeting tools and training of budget officers. Moreover, gender surveys have been quite limited in their scope and coverage. While these concerns may be less significant in high and medium level development countries, they represent serious limitations for low development countries. And although many international organizations facilitate the process by providing technical and financial help, “these cannot cover the cost of training of a vast number of staff in the government budget preparation process, especially at the level of spending agencies of central government and several local governments as well as the cost of conducting meaningful surveys” (Sarraf, 2003; p. 11).

GRGB would suggest that all spending departments incorporate a gender focus although Stotsky (2006) cautions that decentralization may weaken the overall message of promoting gender equality. While ministries devoted to women’s concerns may be a natural place to conduct gender budgeting, these ministries are typically not as influential as a ministry for finance. Yet Sen (2000) notes the difficulties in getting ministries of finance to participate in gender budgeting exercises (Stotsky, 2006; p. 15). As noted by Sarraf (2003), local government in most countries is in a better position to incorporate a gender dimension as the nature of their work tends to be more relevant (mostly social services and agriculture) to a gender dimension (p. 11). This will however depend on the country in question and “the allocation of expenditure assignments between different levels of government” (p. 11).  

The focus of GRGB incorporates a gender analysis dimension into government programs for any level of available funding. In most cases, this will not require additional funding. However as noted by Sarraf (2003) the incorporation of gender analysis in government budgets will not by itself change existing cultural barriers to gender equality. The concept of gender equality needs to be addressed before embarking on GRGB.

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