In recent years, interest in gender-responsive budgeting has increased together with the understanding that effective planning and budgeting can improve the impact of government policies and strengthen accountability to women and girls. There has been a growing demand from partners, inside and outside of government, for capacity strengthening on gender-responsive budgeting. But to fully take root, capacity strengthening must engage all stakeholders, be provided over the long term and generate political will and action to bring gender analysis into the centre of government planning, programming and budgeting.
Towards a Solution
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and prior to 2011, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), have supported capacity strengthening in gender-responsive budgeting, through sharing of experiences, promising practices, and knowledge and skills transfer. To date, UN Women has supported over 100 countries in mainstreaming gender analysis into their national, sector and local plans and budgets. Drawing on this experience and through collaboration with national partners and experts, UN Women has identified key drivers of success, including: (i) strong legal requirements;
(ii) leadership by ministries of finance; (iii) active participation of stakeholders inside and outside of government, specifically parliaments, academia and civil society; (iv) alignment between national development plans and budgets; (v) availability of robust sex-disaggregated data; and (vi) ongoing and targeted technical assistance to increase institutionalization and improve sustainability.
In 2017, UN Women and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began collaborating to expand the impact of gender-responsive budgeting globally, building on the comparative advantage and mandates of both institutions. This joint effort has a three- pronged approach to further develop the empirical evidence base, strengthen national capacities and increase global advocacy for gender-responsive budgeting.
To kick-start the partnership, peer learning events were convened in Rwanda and Mauritius in November 2017 and February 2018, respectively. Structured around experiential learning and interactive dialogue, the South-South exchanges have supported identification of entry points to improve national and local efforts in gender- responsive budgeting.
The Rwanda event included presentations as well as small group field trips to projects focused on technological innovation, womens economic empowerment, and integrated services to address violence against women and girls. A visit to the Rwandan Womens Parliamentary Forum provided key insights into how gender- responsive budgeting has been institutionalized within the Government. These
included parliamentary collaboration with the national womens machinery as well as the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee to follow the budget process from design to execution and to conduct gender equality audits of performance. The Minister of Finance from Rwanda identified the scrutiny and active engagement of Parliament as critical for advancing gender-responsive budgeting which has been essential for increasing investment in education and health services for women and girls. Following this visit, Ministers of Gender from Ghana and Sierra Leone recognized the potential of the Rwanda experience for their countries and called for gender-responsive budgeting to be mainstreamed across all African government budgets.
At the Mauritius peer learning event, participants from Uganda presented their experience of initiating gender-responsive budgeting in the context of the reform to the Public Finance Management Act. The representatives from the Uganda Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the Equal Opportunities Commission also shared how to use a participatory and consultative process in developing guidance to support various sectors and parliament to more actively engage in gender-responsive budgeting. As a direct outcome, participants from Malawi, Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania identified actions for replication in their country contexts. For example, Malawi colleagues committed to advocate for revisions to their Public Finance Management Act, using the Uganda experience to support political dialogue. Furthermore, the four participating countries agreed to continue ongoing learning through virtual exchange
and follow-up visits to see gender-responsive budgeting practices in action.
In addition to the peer-learning exchanges, regional gender-responsive budgeting trainings have been delivered by the UN Women Training Centre. These include both online and face-to-face components and emphasize building practical and applicable skills to implement gender-responsive budgeting. The multiple-module training course has been rolled out in English, Spanish and French to 108 participants in more than 35 countries.
Effective gender-responsive budgeting requires robust capacities and collaboration across the finance, planning, gender and sector ministries. The engagement of groups outside of government including parliamentarians, civil society organizations and academia is necessary to strengthen demand for gender-responsive budgeting. Through the UN Women/ IMF collaboration, government partners and non-governmental stakeholders come together to examine what works in designing and implementing gender-responsive budgeting, assess challenges in the course of this work, and identify best practices for replication in a spectrum of countries.
Ms. Katherine Gifford, Policy Specialist, Governance and National Planning, UN Women, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Monjurul Kabir, Senior Advisor and Global Lead, South-South and Triangular Cooperation, UN Women, email@example.com
Project name: Transformative Financing for Gender Equality and Womens Empowerment Flagship Initiative
Countries/Regions: Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
Nominated by: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
Supported by: UN Women and IMF
Implementing entities: UN Women, IMF, Ministries of Finance and line ministries of participating countries
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2017?2021
URL of the practice: http://gender-financing.unwomen.org/en