Women Count! Making budgets work for women

21 September 2018

Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) can be a powerful tool for addressing gender inequality. A new casebook by the UK Women’s Budget Group (WBG) draws on their experience promoting GRB since 1989 to provide a resource for civil society groups wanting to do similar work.

WBG has been analysing the impact of government economic policy on gender equality since 1989 and working to promote GRB. They are often asked how they do what they do, and what lessons they have learned. Their new casebook, Women Count, draws on their experience to provide a resource for civil society organisations wanting to carry out similar work in their own countries. Through a series of case studies, they explore what gender budgeting can show across a range of policy areas (tax, social security, public services) and how they communicate their analysis with local, regional and national governments, the media and other civil society groups.

While there has been progress on some aspects of gender equality, women throughout the world still experience structural inequality throughout their lives. The expectations that society places on women and men, about what they can and should do structure the roles and opportunities for both sexes. These gendered norms mean that policies impact differently on women and men.

Many international bodies including UN Women, the IMF and World Bank have promoted Gender Responsive Budgeting initiatives to encourage governments to analyse the impact of spending and revenue raising decisions on gender equalities. GRB is increasingly used by local and national governments around the world.

GRB involves looking not only at the paid economy (e.g. income, assets, pay and employment opportunities), but also at unpaid work (such as care and domestic work) and other inequalities such as violence against women and girls, participation in decision making and so on. It can also involve assessing how budgets meet the needs of different groups of women and men, depending on their income, ethnicity, age or whether they live in rural or urban contexts.

But Gender Responsive Budgeting should be a tool to bring about policy change; it is a method not only of policy assessment, but of policy improvement. This means that civil society has a major role to play in GRB, holding government to account and creating pressure for change.

The casebook is available as a PDF and via a dedicated website: http://www.womencount.wbg.org.uk. WBG can also provide training and support through workshops and webinars.