Global Resources

The Paradox of Gender Responsive Budgeting

Publication Date: May 2013

Research for improving policymaking related to non-monetised sectors, such as unpaid care work, is currentIt is difficult to conceive of any public policy to ensure the continued enjoyment of women’s rights that can be carried out without financial resources from the state coffer. This is the argument by the authors of this perspective piece, with particular reference to India. The Indian government has undertaken many new policy initiatives to curb sexual violence, in light of a spate of gang rapes, including passage of a stringent anti-rape law.

The article focuses on two Indian policy documents, assessing their budgeting criteria and criticizing the inadequate provision of funds earmarked for implementing interventions meant for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The first part of the article focuses on assessing the financial commitments made in the gender budget, as well as the resources made available to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The government has claimed in the Budget Statement that funds allocated to women and girls were more than all sectors, except for Defence and Finance. However, the authors showed this analysis to be facetious, as the amount allocated to women and girls was the sum total across 34 ministries.

The latter part of the article examines the projected Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for Women and Child Development (WCD). Projections outlined by the authors show that the GBS has actually registered a decline, and this is expected to continue.

The authors conclude by recognising that previous gender commitments failed to materialise; and the lack budgetary support in the most recent five-year plan is likely to stifle much of its gender difficult, given perceptions of it being a ‘hard-to-price’ sector. This is of particular concern for analysing the effects of gender-budgetary tools on gender equity. The author of this working paper advocates for the utilisation of time-use statistics to solve this problem.

The author outlines three reasons for the lack of integration of time budgets into gender budgeting. Firstly, in many countries, time surveys themselves are seldom conducted at a macro level; in countries where they are undertaken, surveys lack time-series data. Secondly, gender budgeting rarely incorporates analysis of non-market economy sectors, such as unpaid care. Finally, gender budgeting is widely conducted based on the assumption that all public expenditure cannot be gender-partitioned, an assumption which is highly controversial.

A concise rationalisation of gender budgeting follows this. Gender budgeting is explained as being the analysis of entire budgets to determine their gender-differential impacts, especially given the asymmetry in the systemic roles of men and women, governed by culture and/ or social determinants. It is usually unpaid work, which is typically performed by women, that bears the brunt of budgetary cuts in many sectors. The author recognises here the debate as to whether or not some public goods and services, such as defence, are amenable to gender budgeting, but acknowledges that many other types of public expenditure have gender differential impacts.

An analytical framework for the incorporation of time budgets into gender budgeting is then put forward; the author dichotomises this framework into analysing existing budgets through a gender lens (ex-post); and identifying the needs of women, then incorporating them into budgets (ex-ante). The author then introduces a number of indices and formulae for assessing and quantifying the gender impacts of budgets.

She concludes by calling for an urgent re-examination of the construction of the gender (inequality) index if gendered budgets are to be based on index-based, empirical descriptions of gender-specific outcomes.