Gender Budgeting—A New Handbook for Practitioners

Posted by Davina Jacobs

Gender budgeting has in recent years moved from just being “fashionable” to having a “normative” impact on budget practices. In an on this blog, I gave a short introduction to what gender budgeting means in practice. Recently, the , which is a collaborative effort between the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Commonwealth Secretariat and Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), has published a very interesting new book, Gender Budgeting: Practical Implementation Handbook, prepared by Sheila Quinn (pdf copy available below.)

The book’s focus is “to act as a guide to the practice of gender budgeting." It is, however, not really suited for those who have no prior knowledge of gender budgeting; there are many other publications which articulate the rationale for, the background of, and the history of gender budgeting, and a sample of these are listed toward the end of the handbook in the resources section. The handbook assumes an understanding of gender budgeting, of the objectives of a gender equality strategy, of the ways in which gender inequality manifests itself, of the need for structural change in order to tackle unintentional gender bias, and of the basics of gender mainstreaming as a strategy to address gender equality. Gender budgeting, as a tool of gender mainstreaming, cannot be implemented without a grasp of these fundamentals.

Gender budget pilot initiatives have over the years brought about a new and deeper understanding of gender issues. Adopting a gender budgeting strategy requires prior experience in addressing gender equality. The chapter, "How to do Gender Budgeting" starts by discussing the type of experience and conditions that need to be in place in order to engage with gender budgeting. The temptation in using this handbook might be to skip these sub-sections and move ahead to the text dealing with specific tools and approaches. There is a considerable demand for specific tools, for the ABC of what to do, so to speak. However, the fundamentals cannot be by-passed or short-circuited. This is particularly the case if the practice of gender budgeting is to move beyond an analytic exercise to a mainstreaming strategy. The experience of many practitioners is that, since the tools need to be adapted, it is most important to focus on developing an approach based on local circumstances. The actual tools of analysis, of reformulation, and of mainstreaming will emerge when the goal has been identified.

The handbook is designed for use by those responsible for the implementation of gender budgeting. Personally, I found the section on “Linking gender budgeting with budget reform processes" the most interesting. As public financial management systems and processes are overhauled (in most countries) and new processes are incorporated into the new systems, there is an opportunity for the inclusion of gender considerations. In various countries, for example in Austria, gender budgeting will be incorporated into its new performance based approaches to budgeting. Such piggy-backing on reform efforts could well be a very useful strategy to broaden the use of gender budgeting.

Download Gender Budgeting Practical Implementation Handbook