Gender Budgeting in India

A gender budget is not a separate budget for women. Instead, the gender budgets are an attempt to assess government priorities as they are reflected through the budget and examine how they impact women and men.

Gender budgets look at what the impact of the spending is on men and women and whether or not budgets respond to the needs of both women and men adequately.

“Women’s budgets”, “gender budgets”, “gender-sensitive budgets”, and “gender responsive budgets” are all terms that are used to describe initiatives that have used gender as lens from which to analyse budgets at national, regional, and civic levels.

Gender Responsive Budget

A Gender-Responsive Budget is a budget that acknowledges the gender patterns in society and allocates the money to implement policies and programs that will change these patterns in a way that moves towards a more gender equal society.  Gender budget initiatives are exercises that aim to move the country in the direction of a gender-responsive budget.

Need of a Gender Budget

Gender Budget Initiatives are attempts to disaggregate the government’s mainstream budget according to its impacts on women and men. It refers to the process of conceiving, planning, approving, executing, monitoring, analysing and auditing budgets in a gender-sensitive way. The gender budgeting exercise would potentially assist and lead to the following empowering measures:

  • Addressing gap between policy commitment and allocation for women by emphasizing on adequate resource allocation.
  • Putting pressure and focus on gender sensitive programme formulation and implementation.
  • Mainstreaming gender concerns in public expenditure and policy.
  • By being a tool for effective policy implementation where one can check if the allocations are in line with slated gender sensitive policy commitments and are having the desired impact.

Gender budget is helpful in

  • Improving women’s economic equality.
  • Improving effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, and transparency of government budgets.
  • Revealing discrepancies between what a governments says it is doing and the actual impact of government policies.
  • Offering a practical way for the governments to implement their obligations under international human rights agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Gender Budgeting Around the World

  • The concept of gender budgeting is a nineties’ trend that has been introduced mostly in Commonwealth countries.
  • Australia was the first country to implement a women’s budget in 1984. Federal, state and territorial governments in Australia examined the impact of budgets on women and girls for 12 years until a change of government in 1996.
  • South Africa’s Women’s Budget Initiative was initiated in 1995 and involves NGOs, parliamentarians, and a wide range of researchers and advisors. Gender budget initiatives in Tanzania(1997) and Uganda(1999) examine the impacts of structural adjustment programs in these countries and specifically focus on education and health.
  • Many of the earlier gender budget initiatives focused primarily on the expenditure side rather than the revenue side of government budgets. Since 1995 there have been gender budget initiatives in more than 60 countries around the world.

How Gender Budgeting helped the Governments around the world?

  • In Australia, Gender Budgeting significant increase in spending in areas of importance to women. There was also a five-fold increase in child care places for working women.
  • In Philippines, there was made a specific requirement that every government agency allocate at least five per cent of its budget to gender and development initiatives.
  • UK “From the wallet to the purse“. In United Kingdom, the government announced that from 2003 onwards the new Child Tax Credit would be paid to the main carer — usually a woman — rather than to the main earner — usually a man. The group supporting this used the slogan “From the wallet to the purse”(men carry wallets while women carry purses) to argue that giving money to women was more efficient and in-line with government policy on reducing child poverty.
  • In South Korea, a gender budget initiative demonstrated that most of the beneficiaries of training and education programs were leaders or women from women’s organizations.
  • Gender Budgeting Statement (GBS)
  • The Gender Budgeting Statement (GBS) which comprises the gender specific demands for grants, has emerged as an important advocacy tool which reflects on the flow of funds for women and encourages debate and discussions on Gender Budgeting.

Gender Budgeting in India

The first Gender Budget Statement appeared in the Union Budget 2005-06 and included 10 demands for grants. However, in recent budgets the number of demands of grants have been as high as 36. Ten states in India have also introduced gender budgeting but the lack of a standardised nomenclature for the various schemes has made it difficult to replicate or assess them.

Last Updated: November 23, 2015

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