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Is Gender Budgeting a Method to Eliminate the Inequality and Advance Equality Between Women and Men?

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The following essay deals with the research question “Is gender budgeting a method to eliminate the inequality and advance equality between women and men? ”

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2017) designates gender budgeting as a “strategy to achieve equality between women and men by focusing on how resources are collected and spent”. Byanyima (2005) defines gender budgeting similar to EIGE as a tool to examine a government’s budget to evaluate how it impacts female and male in different and social economic groups (30).  On the other hand, Elson (2003) argues also similar to EIGE and Byanyima that gender budgeting does not focus on separate budgets for women, but rather on producing a budget which is mainstreamed. Most of the government expenditure is spend for public goods such as streets and parking lots, where both gender benefit from. (Elson 2003: 3). The basic issue of gender budgeting is to equally satisfy the needs of women and men and to eliminate inequalities (ibid.). Men receive a higher national income than women. With regard to this, men should pay higher taxes because women contribute more to unpaid work such as cooking or caring the children (ibid.). To my mind, this point of Elson is true to a certain extent, but there is a shift in our society. It does not affect every family. Nowadays, some families balance the caring of their children and men are also cooking. If we would introduce this policy, there is again an unequal treatment, if men have to pay higher taxes.

A research shows that there is a inequality in gender budgeting that lead to gender blind budgets and suboptimal decisions that impacts women and men (EIGE 2017). Introducing a gender budgeting methodology helps the government to have a better understanding about their revenue and spending. As a result, the budget of the government might be used more efficiently. Moreover, gender budgeting ensures that the government is using public resources in a proper manner to increase the level of gender equality and efficiency of budgets that lead to sustainable growth (ibid.). To my mind, this is a useful tool to reduce the level of inequality between women and men and how resources are allocated. Women should also get the same payment and same amount of work as men for their jobs.

Gender budgeting can be applied on different levels (ibid) . At the central government level, budgetary decisions are made with regard to revenue and expenditure. Gender budgeting at regional and local government levels is responsible for women’s and men’s needs with regard to public policy and service delivery (ibid.). The best method for this concern is to use participatory gender budgeting approaches. Based on my opinion, it is crucial to care of the needs of women and men, whether on a regional or even local basis. The information that the regional and local government might get, might be the key to improve the long-term goal of having equality between men and women.

Gender budgeting starts with an analysis of budgets and policies from a gender perspective. The main purpose is to raise awareness for the unequal budget allocations and revenue policies. The result will then be presented to the government to make evidence-based decisions. According to EIGE (2017), it is significant to keep the two principles in doing gender budget analysis in mind (Elson 2003: 4). Firstly, we have to compare the budget of poor and rich households and assess the individual budget of women and men (ibid.). Secondly, we have to acknowledge the unequally unpaid work between men and women (bid.). Based on my opinion, considering the two principles of doing gender are essential to advance gender equality among men and women. Moreover, the government tries to connect gender budgeting to the overall gender equality objectives to ensure consistency. Budges will then be restructured and policies amended by the government to emphasize budget inequalities and to pursue gender equality. Gender perspectives are integrated in “policy and budget planning, decision-making, auditing, monitoring and evaluations achievements” (EIGE 2017). This can be done on a regular or separate basis. The budget process should increase the level of transparency, level of information about budgets and how budgets impact women and men. Participation in the budget process is not guaranteed itself in gender budgeting, it rather builds up on good governance and target on stakeholder participation.

For the gender budgeting initiative, there are several stages in the budget cycle (ibid). The stage of planning is a significant stage to identify the objectives. The stage of appraisal identifies financial allocation to meet up with the objectives (ibid.). This stage might be constrained by existing activities because of the difficulty to change those. Audit analyses any misappropriation of money and assess value for money (ibid.). Through this stage, feedback is given with regard to planning objectives and appraisal but there is a gap between the different stages because the next year budget has to be prepared (ibid). The last stage evaluates the objectives that are set in order to see have the objectives been met up (ibid.). This helps the government to identify lacks that can be improved in the future. To my mind, the budget cycle is crucial for reflecting the efficiency of the progress. The budget cycle gives significant information that might be useful for the present and future.

There are different forms of budget classification (Elson 2003:6) . The line-item refers to the expenditure by payments such as salaries, travel and buildings (ibid.). The economic budget focuses on financial operations that examine the economic impact on the population (ibid.). The administrative budget is responsible for managing funds by institution (ibid.). The budget for programs focuses on a set of activities to meet the same objectives (ibid.). The territorial budget examines the impact of revenue and expenditure on geographical area (ibid.). The budget classification gives the government a certain overview about to which level the budget goes. This enables the government to be more efficient in their spending. Moreover, based on the budget classification, the government can evaluate on their spending and improved it in the future.

There are specific enabling factors for gender budgeting (EIGE 2017). Political will and political leadership refers to the political commitment to ensure gender equality. The main purpose of this factors is to raise more awareness among “national parliaments, political parties, regional and local assemblies and their consultative bonds” (ibid.)). This might be the most important key factor for gender budgeting because it raises awareness among the whole government. People who are working among the government have to be aware of this problem first in order to implement policies to advance equality among women and men. The high-level commitment of public administrative institutions is responsible for the creation of clear instructions for the implementation of certain objectives to advance gender equality. Clear instructions are necessary to implement policies and achieve those objectives. On this level, civil-servants have the opportunity to meet up with government of gender equality of commitments. This is an important opportunity for both, civil- servants and government of gender equality of commitments. On the one hand, civil-servants have the opportunity to share their concerns. On the other hand, the government of gender equality of commitments are able to understand the perspective of civil-servants in a better way. The factor of improved technical capacity of civil servants develop policy and budget guidance for gender budgeting. This is linked to “the public administration’s political will and commitment to gender equality” (EIGE 2017). Another enabling factor is the civil society involvement, where governments are meeting up with international and national gender equality commitments with the purpose of sharing information and experiences. This is a significant point because governments from different nations are able to share their experiences and learn from each other.  Moreover, sex-disaggregated data are used for conducting gender analyses of budgets in order to formulate evidence-based gender equality targets and objectives (ibid.). This key enabling factor helps the government to detect sectors, where inequality exists between women and men.

Gender budgeting promotes the accountability and transparency in fiscal planning. Through the analysis of gender budgeting, the government is accountable for their gender policy commitments. A high level of transparency contributes to an increase of participation in the budget process. An increase in participation is especially achieved through public consultations or public participation. Furthermore, gender budgeting leads to a higher level in gender responsive participation in the budget process and advance gender equality and women’s right. That provides evidence on performance from a gender perspective and also a promotion of efficient allocation of resources. The question is how much of those data which are allocated through the gender analysis is applied in real life. The government might have enough evidence to conclude that there is a certain inequality in the salary sector between women and men, but how much of the acquired data is put into the implementation of policy statements?

According to EIGE (2017), gender budgeting is a condition for sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union. Gender budgeting leads to “higher growth rates, healthier children, improved labor productivity and a more responsive government” (ibid.). The EIGE (2017) argues that number of additional jobs will increase between 6.3 million and 10.5 million through a higher gender equality in 2050. Moreover, gender equality should increase the employment productivity (ibid.). In 2050, the GDP per capita should increase up to 9.6 percent (ibid.). Based on my opinion, these are really convenient numbers, but I doubt that this will become true. Gender equality may be a major tool to accomplish those objectives, but I think other factors are playing a crucial role as well. Gender equality is not the only problem. To my mind, there will be a huge shift in the marketplace in a few years due to digitalization. Therefore, we have to create new employment opportunities for people because most of the jobs will be automated by the installed software by machines. The government has to provide a clear guidance how to distribute those employment places to women and men. They have to adapt to those circumstances and provide an understandable and clear plan for the future.

Gender budgeting is not only confronted with positive issues, it has also limitations. There is a gap between policy statements and the way of spending money by the government. The government has to fulfill this gap between policy statements and how they spend the money, otherwise it does not make sense to set objectives, when the government is not able to follow up those policy statements. Moreover, the government wants to have a greater transparency and accountability, but there is a huge gap between participation and consultation due to the allocation of resources and formulation of new policies (Elson 2003, cited in the United Nations Development Fund for Women 2002: 11). The gender responsive budget initiatives help to close those gaps to have a more efficient use of money and to realize the gender equality objectives.  Gender budgeting initiative takes place among several levels such as “national, regional or national government” (Elson 2003: 1). The major challenge for the government is to bring all public expenditure together to provide an overview of the well-being of a country in future.

To conclude, gender budgeting is to a certain extent an essential tool to advance equality between women and men and to see how the government’s budget impacts female and men in different social economic groups. Through the implementation of gender budgeting, the government is able to see the inadequate distribution of resources between women and men. As a result, this helps the government to react to those unfair circumstances. Therefore, it is extremely important that the government is integrating a gender perspective in all policy decisions. On the other hand, gender budgeting has also some limitations. There is a gap between policy statement and the way of spending money by the government. The government has to find a solution to fill up this gap, otherwise it is not possible to achieve the main purpose of gender budgeting. Additionally, according to EIGE (2017), in 2050 there will be a huge economic growth that benefits both genders. To my point of view, this is just a forecast by the government. Certain economic factors such as an economic crisis or war could diminish those positive numbers presented by the EIGE. Therefore, the government has to take those considerations into account in their planning. Otherwise, the government would not be able to fulfil the main purpose of gender budgeting in the future.



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