Updated: Mar 20, 2022
by May East- UN House Scotland Director of Cities Programme
There is a budget revolution taking place in Europe with cities adopting gender sensitive budgets. Known as Budget-Genré in France and Presupuesto con Enfoque de Género (PEG) in Spain, gender responsive budgets adopt gender equality principles as a framework for making decisions in all phases of the budget cycle.
“A budget reflects the values of a country - who it values, whose work it values and who it rewards... and who and what and whose work it doesn’t.”
— Pregs Govender- South African Parliamentarian
Defined by the Council of Europe as a ‘gender based assessment of budgets incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality’, the purpose of gender budgeting is threefold:
to promote accountability and transparency in fiscal planning
to increase gender responsive participation in the budget process
to advance gender equality and women’s rights.
The Three Stages of Gender Budgeting: Analysis, Restructuring, Embedding Systematically
Gender budgeting is seen as covering three stages:
analysis of issues;
restructuring of the budget to achieve gender equality outcomes;
embedding gender systematically within all budgetary processes.
It all starts with an analysis of budgets and policies from a gender perspective to identify unbalances in budget allocations, for instance, in transport, sports, improvement of public spaces, and their impact on women and girls. Caution! this phase is not intended to only analyse programmes that are specifically targeted to women or to produce a separate ‘women's’ budget.
The analysis cycle should serve as a basis for restructuring the budget, by developing the transformative objectives for tackling gender inequalities and defining appropriate milestones and indicators for measuring progress. During the implementation phase, regular in-depth progress reviews serve as guidance for embedding gender systematically within all budgetary processes.
Transparency and participation are key elements in restructuring budgets, by engaging women and men equally in budget preparation. The participatory budgeting invented in Porto Alegre is a great example of citizens engaged in shaping and prioritising what is needed and meaningful at the local level.
Gender Sensitive Budgeting in Europe- Andalusia, Lyon and Vienna cases
The growing number of gender sensitive budgets initiatives across Europe differ greatly. The EU has put together a series of practical tools and examples from different Member States on how to integrate a gender perspective into the EU Funds.
Spain has been using gender-responsive budgeting in its national and sub-national administrative budgets since 2007. The Andalusian Regional Government Administration, for instance, has developed and implemented a specific methodology – the G+ Programme – to classify all programmes on the extent they impact on gender.
So far, the G+ Programme has seen an expansion of after-school services for children, a rise in women’s ownership of agricultural holdings, a greater focus on combating violence against women and an increase in female university professors from 13% in 2008 to 20% in 2015.
From master planning to women-led place-making interventions, Vienna has embedded gender-mainstreaming in its urban landscape.
The City of Vienna holds one of the longest legacies of gender-sensitive planning in Europe. The foundation stone was laid in 1992 with the establishment of its Women’s Office, followed by the pioneering efforts of the Coordination Office in 2001, tasked to roll-out gender mainstreaming in particular in the Planning, Civil Engineering and Building Construction departments.
From master planning to women-led place-making interventions, the city has since conducted over 60 gender-sensitive projects including Aspen Seestad neighbourhood and has embedded gender-mainstreaming in its urban landscape. In 2009, as part of the federal budget reform, gender budgeting was anchored in the Austrian Federal Constitutional Act, stipulating that budgeting by federal, state and local authorities shall be carried out with a view to ensuring equality between women and men.
Lyon became the largest French city to implement a gender-sensitive budget, designed to ensure that funds are spent equally between women and men. Following Grenoble, Rennes, Bordeaux, Lyon officials view the gendered budget as a transformative instrument addressing societal inequalities – a gap that has become even more pronounced during the pandemic. Expenditures on sports facilities, cultural activities and urban planning are considered through the prism of a gender-sensitive budget. For instance, women's sports clubs are to receive as many subsidies as men's clubs, and urban infrastructure improvements are addressing the public toilet and street lighting needs of women.
“A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it is an embodiment of our values.”
— Barack Obama
Gender budgeting remains a powerful tool to incorporate the priorities of women and girls into towns, cities, region and country agendas.
A budget represents in economic terms our interests, passions, needs and overall, our worldview. Gender budgeting is percolating at every level of government in Europe, and is increasingly informing public spending decisions in cities and regions.
The current consultation on Scotland’s National Performance Framework sets the tone for what is valued within our society and economy. It is a long-term plan for Scotland that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed.
Scotland has an opportunity to stand side by side with Austria, France and Spain by introducing in its NPF4 and associated policies, the intention to conduct gender-sensitive budgeting, and by doing so, reinforcing its intention to promote equality in all development and planning decisions.
Gender budgeting remains a powerful tool to incorporate the priorities of women and girls into cities and country agendas.
The sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women is taking place from 14 to 25 March 2022. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world are invited to contribute to the session. More information.
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