Gender Audit: Whim or Voice
Publication Date: Jun 2002
How can monitoring of the budget expose gender discrimination, even in supposedly ?neutral? sectors such as transport and energy? This paper from South African writers argues that state policies can have hidden consequences for women, which can be uncovered through gender analysis. The paper shows the importance of looking at sectoral budgets such as energy and transport that are assumed to be ?gender-neutral?, as well as those of health and education. One example is the case of the energy budget. The largest consumer of energy in South Africa is private households and yet the energy budget focuses on electricity which is limited to a few domestic purposes (gas, paraffin, and wood collected from forests are used instead). The focus of the energy budget thus caters overwhelmingly to the needs of the commercial sector and factors such as increased privatisation - which mean higher time and monetary costs for women - are not reflected in energy budgets or policy. Likewise in the transport sector, urban transport and road construction take up most of the transport budget, with public transport designed for the eight-hour- day worker in terms of routes and timetables. This fails to take into consideration the needs of women, who are often employed in agriculture, shift work or caring roles. A gender analysis would point not only to the differing needs of and constraints on women?s and men?s lives and productive roles, but would also help to expose the inefficiency of existing allocations which may well not be adequately reaching their constituents.