Gender Budgeting in South Asia
The first IMF Asian regional workshop on gender budgeting (GB) was held in India in March 2018. Twenty-eight delegates from ten Asian countries participated (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Korea India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines Sri Lanka and Thailand) as well as representatives from six Indian states. The workshop brought together representatives of ministries of finance, ministries of women, and spending ministries. It was organized by the IMF’s South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC) and its Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) in collaboration with the Fund’s Technical Assistance Office in Thailand (TAOLAM) and the UN Women’s India Office.
The workshop included presentations from international experts on GB concepts and approaches, international trends in GB, and on how GB can contribute to achieving gender equality and the sustainable development goals (IMF and UN women). It emphasized international and regional country case studies and peer to peer learning. The workshop also included presentations on lessons learned from countries with more advanced systems of GB and gender mainstreaming such as Austria, Korea and the Philippines.
There were several sessions on the several GB tools which can be used to integrate a gender perspective throughout the budget cycle. Regional country cases studies were used to illustrate how these tools can be applied in budget preparation and execution. Country presentations discussed integrating a gender perspective into planning and budget documents (Bhutan and Sri Lanka), the budget circular (Bangladesh), and developing GB statements and gender analysis (Korea and the Philippines). Countries also discussed applying a gender perspective to budget execution, monitoring and reporting (Nepal and Indonesia).
The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to apply what they had learned to their own countries. In the breakout sessions, participants either developed a GB statement for their country or improved their country’s existing statement. Others learned how to conduct gender budgeting analysis (ex-ante and ex-post). In addition, participants produced a GB action plan for their respective countries. The results of these sessions were presented and discussed with the peer group.
Some of the key messages emerging from the seminar include:
- Gender equality is a strongly articulated goal which is enshrined in law in all the participating countries. In most countries, it is also linked to national or sectoral plans. While only a few countries yet have effective budget instruments to support the implementation of gender equality, GB is gaining momentum in the region as a tool to help achieve this goal.
- Over two-thirds of participating countries have established a legal basis for GB. The approaches to GB vary across the region with some countries at a more advanced stage than others. In a few countries, however, GB initiatives have stalled and the gender perspective has not been integrated into the budget process.
- Countries highlighted greater use of GB tools when preparing the budget. The most commonly used instruments are GB statements and the budget circular. The use of GB tools in budget execution and to monitor spending and program effectiveness is less developed. There is also limited use of ex-post gender impact assessments and gender auditing.
The workshop discussed the challenges countries faced in implementing GB. These included lack of political support, lack of clear guidance on incorporating gender considerations into the budget, insufficient disaggregated data, coordination problems, and the poor quality of gender assessments.
The workshop also highlighted important success factors such as having an adequate legal framework for implementing GB, political support to improve gender equality, commitment from the finance ministry, capacity for undertaking gender analysis, and strong awareness among line ministries of their role in implementing GB.
 Deputy Division Chief, PFM 2 Division, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF.
 Resident PFM Advisor, SARTTAC.
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