BRIEF: Advancing Gender Equality Through the Budget: Latin American Experiences with Gender-Responsive Budgeting

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Gender inequality is particularly prevalent in developing regions where it prevents millions of women from exercising the basic human rights they are entitled to. In recent years, governments around the world have begun implementing gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) in an attempt to reduce gender gaps. In the Latin America region, legal and administrative reforms have paved the way for the development of innovative GRB tools and participatory mechanisms that are helping to ensure that women’s priorities and needs are incorporated into national and local budgets. Civil society has played a key role in this entire process by providing technical expertise, lobbying governments and monitoring GRB outcomes. This Brief begins by presenting an overview of gender inequality and the evolution of GRB in Latin America, before analysing four key features of the Latin American approach to GRB. Given the current lack of evidence on GRB impacts, this Brief outlines some initial outcomes in order to draw lessons for other regions, while also identifying the contextual elements that have helped to drive forward GRB across Latin America.
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  ELLA AREA: GOVERNANCE | ELLA THEME: GENDER EQUITY POLICIES  1 ELLA Area: Governance ELLA Theme: Gender Equity Policies Gender inequality is particularly prevalent in developing regions where it prevents millions of women from exercising the basic human rights they are entitled to. In recent years, governments around the world have begun implementing gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) in an attempt to reduce gender gaps. In the Latin America region, legal and administrative reforms have paved the way for the development of innovative GRB tools and participatory mechanisms that are helping to ensure that women’s priorities and needs are incorporated into national and local budgets. Civil society has played a key role in this entire process by providing technical expertise, lobbying governments and monitoring GRB outcomes. This Brief begins by presenting an overview of gender inequality and the evolution of GRB in Latin America, before analysing four key features of the Latin American approach to GRB. Given the current lack of evidence on GRB impacts, this Brief outlines some initial outcomes in order to draw lessons for other regions, while also identifying the contextual elements that have helped to drive forward GRB across Latin America. SUMMARY GENDER INEQUALITY PERSISTS Although states worldwide have ratified international treaties on women’s equality - the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration being the two most important 1  - gender inequality persists throughout the world. Figure 1 shows that according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2012, gender inequality is more prevalent in developing regions, with the Middle East and Northern Africa occupying last place. This was confirmed by the United Nations in 2013 after a review of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which indicated that women continue to face discrimination in access to education and work, as well as in terms of economic assets and political participation, and that gender-based violence continues to undermine efforts to reach the MDGs. 2  In fact, “women and girls make up 70% of the 1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day.” 3 Policy Brief Latin America is leading the way in gender-responsive budgeting and is producing some insightful lessons for other regions of the world. ADVANCING GENDER EQUALITY THROUGH THE BUDGET: LATIN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES WITH GENDER-RESPONSIVE BUDGETING LESSONS LEARNED KEY Gender-responsive budgeting is a long-term process as it implies changing the way in which public servants have budgeted for decades. Various Latin American experiences point to the importance of training public servants on gender and budgets, so that they are aware of how their work can contribute to achieving gender equality. Civil society can drive forward the implementation of GRB in various ways, including by raising awareness of the issues, training public servants, developing budget analysis methodologies and tools, lobbying policymakers, and by tracking public spending. GRB initiatives are more likely to succeed if they build on other on-going reforms and participatory mechanisms. In Latin America, many GRB initiatives have been strengthened by tapping into existing participatory budgeting schemes. 1 CEDAW, adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is an international bill of rights for women. The Beijing Declaration was adopted in 1995 and summarises the commitments made by states to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women. By ratifying both international instruments, states assume certain obligations regarding the enforcement of gender equality and women’s rights. 2  United Nations. 2013. Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. United Nations. Online publication. 3  CARE. No date.  Ending Poverty: Why Empower Women and Girls?   CARE, Merrifield.  2 ELLA AREA: GOVERNANCE | ELLA THEME: GENDER EQUITY POLICIES 4  An interesting exception is the Australian government which has conducted assessments of the impact of expenditure on women since the 1980s. See Hofbauer Balmori, H.2003. Gender and Budgets Overview Report  . Bridge Institute of Development Studies, London. 5  Although this Brief explores the way the budget can be used to promote gender equality, it is worth mentioning that there is another approach – the macroeconomic one – which argues that macroeconomic economic policies can also narrow or widen gender gaps and thus there is a need to integrate gender concerns into economic policy as well. This approach highlights how gender inequality constrains national growth and living standards. See Budlender, D. & Hewitt, G. 2003. Engendering Budgets: A Practitioners’ Guide to Understanding and Implementing Gender-Responsive Budgets  . The Commonwealth Secretariat, London. 6  For more information on the implementation of the rights-based approach in Latin America read the ELLA Briefs Mexico City’s Innovation: Budgeting with  a Human Rights Approach and Making Human Rights Real: Two Latin American Experiences in the Rights Based Approach to Policymaking. 7  Budlender and Hewitt. 2003, see n6 above. Sharp, R. 2007.  Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women  . United Nations, New York. 8  Hofbauer Balmori. 2003, see n4 above.  Figure 1:  Global Gender Gap Index 2012 by Region THE BUDGET AS A TOOL TO PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY: GENDER RESPONSIVE BUDGETS The budget is one of the government’s most powerful instruments for safeguarding human rights and promoting development. This is because public policies and programmes cannot work if insufficient budget resources are allocated to their implementation. Budget allocations therefore provide some evidence of the level of government commitment to achieving development and human rights goals. After the Beijing Platform in 1995, it was increasingly argued that governments were designing and allocating budgets in ways that either a) did not necessarily help women overcome gender inequality; or b) might worsen gender gaps. 4  Since then, governments, civil society, donors, and international and regional organisations have recognised the potential for using the budget as a tool to promote gender equality and advance women’s rights. 5 The rights-based approach, which argues that the budget can be used by states to meet commitments set out in international and regional human rights treaties and national law, has become the theoretical foundation for GRB initiatives. 6  Literature on GRB produced since the end of the nineties has asserted that, by using the budget to transform the cultural, political, social, and economic 1.000.800.600.400.200.00 Middle East and North Africa    G   l   o   b   a   l   G   e   n   d   e   r   G   a   p   I   n   d   e   x   s   c   o   r   e    (   0 .   0   0  -   1 .   0   0    ) Asia and the PacificSub - Saharan AfricaLatin America and the Caribbean Europe and Central AsiaNorth America Source: Hausmann, R., Tyson, L. D. and Zahidi, S. 2012. Global Gender Gap Index 2012  . World Economic Forum, Geneva. Sources: Budlender and Hewitt. 2003, see n5 below; Sharp. 2007, see n7 below; UNIFEM. 2010.  UNIFEM’s Work on Gender-Responsive Budgeting:  Overview . UNIFEM, New York; The Basque Government, UN Volunteers, UNIFEM and AECID. 2008. Programa Regional de Presupuestos Sensibles al Género en América Latina (Regional Programme for Gender Sensitive Budgeting in Latin America)  . The Basque Government, UN Volunteers, UNIFEM and AECID. structures and norms which perpetuate gender inequality, governments can guarantee and advance women’s rights. 7 Progress on GRB has been made at various levels by diverse actors, such as civil society organisations, national and local governments and academics. Government efforts have focused on designing and allocating budgets with a gender approach, reporting on the gender impacts of budget allocations and creating spaces for public participation as a means of incorporating women’s needs and priorities into public spending. 8  Civil society and academia, on the other hand, have focused on advocating for GRB, on working with governments to develop tools for budgeting with a gender approach, and on assessing whether government’s are addressing gender equality with these tools. Box 1: What is GRB? Gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) is the name given to initiatives that promote linking state budget allocations and revenue to the legal obligations they are bound to through international treaties, national constitutions or secondary laws regarding women’s rights. GRB initiatives do not suggest that budgets be divided so that 50% is targeted at men and 50% at women, rather they analyse the entire public budget to determine whether public spending takes into account gender differences (women and men have different needs) and whether budget allocations actually address gender inequalities or worsen them. In this way, GRB enables states to assess whether their policies and programmes are fulfilling and advancing women’s rights. For non-governmental actors (such as community-based and civil society organisations, academics, the private sector), GRB provides a mechanism for overseeing government commitment to and progress towards closing gender gaps and guaranteeing women’s rights.  3 ELLA AREA: GOVERNANCE | ELLA THEME: GENDER EQUITY POLICIES 9  UN Women (or UNIFEM) is the organisation that has analysed GRB initiatives in Latin America most extensively, specifically in the eight countries where it works, namely Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Consequently, much of the existing literature is based on experiences from these countries. 10  Research for ELLA is based entirely on a review of existing evidence, therefore no primary research or fieldwork was conducted for this Brief, except for some direct communications with a public officer to get more in-depth information on the Costa Rican experience. 11  Coello Cremades, R. 2009. Experiencias de Presupuestos con Enfoque de Género en América Latina: Una Mirada desde la Economía Feminista (Experiences  of Gender Approach Budgets in Latin America: A Feminist Economics View)  . Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid. 12 UNIFEM. 2008. UNIFEM’s Work in Support of Gender Responsive Budgeting  . UNIFEM, New York. 13  Government budgets tend to be allocated in an incremental way taking into account the previous year’s allocation. This is to say, the budget for one year tends to be very similar to the one from a previous year with a small increment. 14  The Basque Government, UN Volunteers, UNIFEM and AECID. 2008. Programa Regional de Presupuestos Sensibles al Género en América Latina ( Regional Programme for Gender Senstivive Budgeting in Latin America  ). The Basque Government, UN Volunteers, UNIFEM and AECID. 15  In Mexico City and Peru, these secondary laws are Mexico City’s Budget and Spending Law, the Peruvian Sasieta Law and the Venezuelan Budget Law. Roeder, M., Takayama, C., Fuertes, P. and Hurtado, I. 2009. ‘Peru’ In: Integrating Gender Responsive Budgeting into the Aid Effectiveness Agenda: Country  Summaries  . UNIFEM, New York; Article 10 of Mexico City’s Budget and Spending Law (Ley de Presupuesto y Gasto Eficiente del Distrito Federal)   United Nations, New York; and UNIFEM. 2010.  UNIFEM’s Work on Gender-Responsive Budgeting: Overview  . UNIFEM, New York. The purpose of this Brief is to present and analyse progress made with regards to GRB in Latin American countries to highlight useful lessons for other regions facing similar issues of gender inequality. In order to gather information on the various experiences of GRB from across Latin America, the author reviewed publicly available publications, handbooks and reports on regional, national and local GRB initiatives. Documents produced by international development agencies, such as UN-Women 9  and the Commonwealth Secretariat were also consulted. Likewise, a review was conducted of theoretical papers on GRB in order to define the analytical framework of the Brief. 10 It is worth noting that even though GRB has been implemented for more than 10 years in some Latin American countries, there is no systematic evidence available on its direct impacts on gender equality. Rather than reporting the degree to which GRB is closing the gender gap, national and local governments and donors tend to document outputs, such as a) the public funds that are now allocated using gender analysis tools; b) the budget allocations going to programmes and services focused on achieving gender equality; and c) the increase of women’s involvement in defining budget priorities. It is important to note as well that GRB has been designed, implemented and adapted differently in each Latin American country, making it difficult to identify clear trends and to gather and compare data. Despite this, the author of this Brief has organised the information in such a way that the reader can get a fair picture of GRB development, strengths and on-going challenges in Latin America. THE LATIN AMERICAN APPROACH TO GENDER RESPONSIVE BUDGETS By 2009, there were 52 GRB initiatives being implemented in 17 Latin American countries. 11  Although these initiatives vary greatly in design and scope, UN Women has identified two distinctive features. First, the region has developed innovative GRB budget analysis and allocation tools thanks to strong research capacities. Second, the region has implemented GRB initiatives at the local level, taking advantage of the participatory budgeting processes already in place in many municipalities. 12  This Brief analyses these two features, plus two additional GRB trends from Latin America. The first of these relates to governments enacting and adopting legal and administrative reforms to promote the implementation of GRB. The second trend is associated with the key role that civil society is playing in lobbying for GRB and working with governments to design, test, and assess gender budget tools. 1) Legal and Administrative Reforms Mandating GRB Some national and local governments in Latin America are carrying out legal and administrative reforms to ensure the adoption and implementation of GRB. These reforms are important since they provide the basis for transforming the way the budget has been designed and allocated for decades, 13  for making GRB a mandatory component of government planning and spending, and for ensuring that new governments coming into power will continue to implement GRB. 14  The incorporation of GRB into legal frameworks has occurred at three different levels in the region. Ecuador has given GRB the highest possible level of legal recognition by including a requirement in the 2008 Constitution for budgets to reduce gender inequality. With gender budgeting a constitutionally protected right, Ecuadorian citizens can make a stronger appeal to the government when this right is being violated. The governments of Mexico City, Guatemala, Peru, and Venezuela have formally acknowledged GRB in secondary laws which mandate public servants to consider gender differences when planning budgets or to allocate budget funds to tackling gender inequalities. 15  Finally, Bolivia has mandated GRB through some administrative regulations. In 2006, for example, an article was added to the Bolivian Ministry of Finance’s  4 ELLA AREA: GOVERNANCE | ELLA THEME: GENDER EQUITY POLICIES 16  UNIFEM. 2010, see n15 above. 17  The Basque Government et al  . 2008, see n14 above. 18  The Basque Government et al  . 2008, see n14 above; UNIFEM. 2010, see n15 above. 19 Mexican Ministry of Finance. 2013.  Proceso de Incorporación de la Perspectiva de Género en el Presupuesto del Distrito Federal (Process for Incorporating  a Gender Perspective in Mexico City’s Budget)  , Ministry of Finance, Online publications. 20  The Presidential Secretariat for Women. 2011. Clasificador Presupuestario de Género (Gender Budget Classifier)  . The Presidential Secretariat for Women, Guatemala City. 21  Raes, F. 2006.  What Can We Expect From Gender Sensitive Budgets? Strategies in Brazil and in Chile in a Comparative Perspective  . Online publication. regulations requiring municipal governments to allocate public spending to improve gender equality. 16  Since then, 327 Bolivian municipalities have made specific allocations for gender policies. In Turco, Oruro, for example, gender equality budget allocations increased from 7,000 to 415,000 Bolivian pesos (USD$1,000 to $60,000) between 2007 and 2008. 17 2) Developing Tools for Allocating and Reporting GRB Equally important to the formal recognition of GRB in national constitutions, laws and administrative regulations has been its practical implementation. Ministries of Finance, Planning, Gender and Women’s Development in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and the Government of Mexico City have developed two types of GRB tool for the public sector; the first for allocating the budget and the second for monitoring expenditure. It is worth noting that since GRB is still a very innovative approach, the tools created in these countries are very context-specific and thus vary a great deal. Three examples of GRB tools for allocating budgets are: ã In Ecuador, the gender budgeting tool ( Clasificador Presupuestario de Género  ) has been developed based on eight gender equality indicators such as women’s political participation, gender violence and access to resources. Public agencies can choose which of these indicators they will target, specify how they will do it, and with what amount of public funds. In addition, a Gender Unit has been created within the Ecuadorian Ministry of Finance; a good sign for the future sustainability of GRB in the country. 18   ã In Mexico City, the Ministry of Finance created “Outcome 13: Reduction of the Gap Between Men and Women” within its institutional budget, which earmarks public funds for 40 institutional activities aiming to improve gender equality. Since the implementation of this GRB initiative, the budget funds allocated to gender in Mexico City have increased 9.4% in the period 2008-2010, from 1,234 million pesos (US$95 million) to 1,355 million pesos (US$104 million). 19   ã In Guatemala, a numeric code with various categories was created within the national gender budgeting tool ( Clasificador Presupuestario de Género  ). This code allows public servants to classify their budget allocations according to the degree to which these benefit women. For example, there is a category for budget funds exclusively benefiting women, or another category for funds that benefit target groups significant to women, such as children and the elderly. 20 In terms of monitoring expenditure, GRB tracking systems have been implemented in Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica to track the amount of public funding spent on initiatives aimed at improving gender equality. In Brazil, for example, the Public Budget Information System (SIGA BRASIL) tracks expenditure on gender equality and women’s rights programmes. The Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Public Agency for Women have also made extensive budget information available for tracking expenditure on gender equality. 21   Box 2: GRB Implementation in Costa Rica Work on GRB in Costa Rica started back in 2005. The National Women’s Institute led the process from the outset, working with key government ministries such as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy and the National Audit Office in the design and implementation of GRB. GRB forms part of the national equity programme ( Programa Equitativos  ), which promotes the adoption of a gender approach in the Costa Rican budget via three main activities: 1. Development of guidelines, frameworks and methodologies for GRB. In recent years, these tools have focused on supporting government agencies to disaggregate information and data by gender, in an attempt to get a better understanding of existing gender inequalities. 2. Training and capacity building for 300 public servants (to date) on how to incorporate GRB into their work, including integrating a gender approach into the planning processes for any public service, project or good; disaggregating data; identifying gender gaps; designing appropriate response mechanisms; redistributing the budget; and producing
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