Friday, October 16, 2009


A Review
Rose Mensah-Kutin (PhD)

1.0 Introduction
• NETRIGHT and interest in gender budgeting. 3-year capacity building initiative to benefit members.
• Awareness of a number of publications on the subject. Example: those under the South African initiative
• Pleasant surprise that a new addition had been produced.
• Congratulate the ACBF and all involved in the process and also to AWDF for hosting the launch, given its own leadership and commitment to gender equality promotion in the context of Africa.

2.0 Features of the book
• Published by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), a renowned capacity building institution
• 187 pages, colourful, accessible language, handy.
• How to go about it
• Six sections: overview, Gender budgeting experiences analysed (3chapters); Comparative analysis across African regions; Conclusions and recommendations.
• Relevance and the modesty with which this is articulated

3.0 Key Issues In the book
3.1 Useful learning points from the model cases presented
• How it was done, challenges encountered, opportunities, successes etc
• Women’s active involvement as critical

3.2 Diverse nature of the experiences presented
• No one model is best
• Australian experience: first attempt and its implications. Shows the dangers of an initiative that is located only inside government
• South African model: Example of comprehensive research coverage of all sectors and all levels of government. It demonstrates an alliance between parliament and NGOs
• Ugandan model: A country where there are opportunities for an early participation in the budget process of non governmental- actors. It also shows the role of the World Bank and IMF in the process

• Rwanda Model
• Government political commitment to tackle gender inequality.
• One of the things Ban Ki-Moon, the UN boss first commended during his visit to that country in March was the country's attainment of gender parity at all levels.
• national consultations on gender responsive budgeting hosted by the line Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning and that of Gender and Family Promotion.
• During the consultations, findings quoted from a study conducted by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), in some districts of Rwanda, indicate that there is an acute shortage of gender expertise necessary for gender analysis, planning and budgeting.
• This is basically one of the reasons these consultations were held, to emphasize the need to consider gender budgeting while considering the overall budgeting process.
• Rwanda, despite the fact that it has received a positive nod as one of the first sub-Saharan African countries to have attained one of the 3rd Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is at a shortfall when auditing the effectiveness of aid in advancing gender equality and women empowerment.

3.3 Methodological approaches
• Providing institutions with mechanisms to address gender inequities in development.
• Limits of the methodology: secondary data which is acknowledged by the study itself. So possibility for this to be addressed next time round.

3.4 Women demonstrating leadership in a male-dominated space:
• 80 countries have so far done it
• Women’s contribution to knowledge creation enhanced.
• Demystification of budgets/economics

3.5 Demanding accountability from governments on their commitments to gender equality.
• Locating this effort within the context of international instruments such as CEDAW. 192 countries of the UN, 185 ratified CEDAW. 90 are parties to CEDAW’s optional protocol; 51 of 53 African states have ratified CEDAW, 24 signed the optional protocol: International Bill of rights for women.
• Other instruments: AU Constitutive Act

3.6 Information on gender equality is provided
• International processes
• Civil society efforts
• What is happening on gender issues in case study countries

4.0 Relevance of the Book
• Politics : sharing of available resources
• Accountability issues
• Commitment to gender equality
• Role of civil society
• A way to do it and possible consequences and impacts
• “public budgets are not mere economic tools, but summarize policies in monetary terms and express political priorities.”

5.0 Limitations/Challenges:
• Gender budget in the context of neo-liberal economic development (no critique of economic policy frameworks: problematic)
• How do we ensure gender budgeting leads to poverty reduction?
• Financial crisis: two-sided argument
• Amount of work involved and complexity of the budgeting process itself and yet its relevance and therefore how it can form part of overall struggles of women
• What about the issue of reforming the budget process and budgeting itself?
• Methodology of secondary data and its limits. However the book itself acknowledges these limitations so in a way creates possibilities of overcoming them next time round.
• Concerns about limits of gender mainstreaming
• Extent of influence in decision-making processes
• No country in West Africa? Nigeria and Senegal have some processes.
• Nigeria
• There is work in progress in Nigeria on gendered budget analysis at the national and local levels.
• Women in Nigeria see the current political climate as an opportunity to follow up on the three important reviews concerning gender equality: the 10-year reviews of the Beijing World Conference on Women, the International Conference on Population and Development, and the World Summit on Social Development.
• This has provided an opportunity for Nigerian women to appraise their government, not only in terms of creating an enabling environment for women to participate fully in governance, but also for demanding gender equality policies for economic and social development.
• This is expected to contribute to defining a new and just political agenda, incorporating elements of government transparency and accountability in socio-economic policies, expenditure and social impact.
• Senegal
• Senegal government is supportive of women’s participation at decision-making levels, and women's representation in strategic ministerial positions has increased.
• However, despite growing trends towards participatory democracy, women’s contribution in the economy continues to be undermined and women’s work in the care economy remains invisible in national accounts and budget mechanisms.
• Given the emphasis on promoting an enabling environment for private businesses, it is crucial to monitor the implication of such policy shifts on the allocation of national budgets.
• Ghana
• Some efforts by Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC): Four Ministries.

6.0 Lessons:
• Best impact when led by governments and driven by civil society.
• Initiatives that involve only government or only civil society may not be effective. Combination is more likely to succeed.
• One off training events or seminars not an answer
• Should be institutionalised within the budgetary system and the budgeting process in the preparation of the budget and while through the outcome and performance budget so it is self sustaining, effective and mandatory.
• Importance of research and relevant research to provide needed base and facts to inform policy changes and support advocacy
• Donor driven initiatives not sustainable and don’t have required results. So need for political will and commitment to gender budgeting for it to be an effective tool to reach the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

7.0 Way Forward:
• Women engaging economics
• What is happening in our own country?
• More Comparative analysis needed
• Primary data and analysis
• Critique of the framework and assumptions used
• Impact assessment studies over time.
• Measures of development: need to include those by civil society e.g. Social Watch.
• An important contribution to the store of knowledge on the subject of gender budgets: that it can be done.


Femme Lounge said...

great summary, i look forward to a full read. well done.

AWDF said...

@Femme Lounge - Thanks very much for the support and feedback