This is how government spending impacts gender equality

Written by Claire Fourçans

This June, the ONE team in Brussels and nearly 50 Youth Ambassadors invaded the European Development Days (EDDs) — an annual gathering of development professionals. This year’s event was organised by the European Commission and focused entirely on women’s empowerment. One of the geekiest topics of discussion at the EDDs was gender budgeting.

What is gender budgeting?

Teresa Curristine from the International Monetary Fund explains: “Gender budgeting is a government tool that uses fiscal policies and public intervention to achieve gender equality goals, using a gender lens to look at the budget.” This doesn’t mean looking only at the specific funds going to gender equality — it is about analysing the whole budget while asking the question, Does this programme or policy impact gender equality?”

It may not be obvious how programmes impact gender equality at first. Paul Daulny, from the Centre Hubertine Aubert, gave this example: A municipality invests heavily in football fields and subsidies far more than all other sports. Because football is mostly played by men and boys, the municipality is investing more in activities geared towards men and boys than women and girls. This kind of investment is detrimental to women and girls who –- no surprise -– are viewed as less active than men and boys.

Questioning our investments and also the way we structure taxes is the first necessary step to make a budget gender-sensitive. Afterall, we can only modify a budget to be more gender-equal if we are aware of where it is gender-blind to begin with.

Ermira Lubani from UN Women said, “I am impressed to see gender responsive budgeting as one of the main topics of discussion at the EDDs this year, however there is still a long way to go. We have very good pilots but there is still not a country we can proudly say that it has fully incorporated this approach.”

Right now, the EU encourages partner countries to implement gender-budgeting. For example, the EU delegation in Morocco is supporting the work of multiple ministries in on-boarding gender budgeting techniques. But, a lot remains to be done before the EU can not only talk the talk but also walk the walk.

All budgets in the world – from small villages to whole countries – should adopt gender budgeting. And the European Union (EU) is no exception. As we are just entering a period of intense negotiations on the EU’s next 7-year budget, it’s time for the EU to apply gender budgeting techniques to its own budget. That is why ONE, along with a coalition of CSOs in Brussels, are asking the EU not only to commit to gender budgeting but to secure funds to do it.

Tell EU leaders to do more for gender equality around the world by adding your name here!

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