Analyzing Budgets With a Gender Perspective: A Key Tool for Gender Equality
By Julieta Izcurdia
Since the mid-1990s, more than 50 countries have engaged in some kind of gender budgeting initiative. Throughout the past years, the role of civil society was fundamental to analyze how budgets can eliminate gender gaps, promote equality and reverse discrimination in the access to human rights.
In order to provide accessible and practical tools to understand the budget and facilitate advocacy and activism towards more equitable public spending, the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (Civil Association for Equality and Justice) published the guide Budget Analysis With Gender Perspective. Manual for Activists and Civil Society Organizations ( “Análisis presupuestario con perspectiva de género. Manual para activistas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil”, in Spanish).
It aims to enable the analysis of budgets from a gender perspective and has two sections: a theoretical and a practical one. The former explains the budget cycle, how to identify the information provided by the most relevant documents of each stage, and the opportunities for advocacy. The latter proposes the application of a methodology that starts from the identification of violation of rights, and offers tools to analyze the regulatory framework and existing public policies or programs.
The manual is available online and brings examples and video tutorials to make the content more accessible. Although the examples focus on the national budget, the methodology is perfectly replicable for studying the resources of other levels of government or other comparable budget systems.
We created this guide because we believe that budget analysis is a valuable tool for activism, and has positive results when used in the defense of women and disadvantaged groups' rights. Activists from different fields can drive positive impact through budget analysis. An example is the activism carried out during 2018 together with women's rights organizations. It pushed the Congress to increase the allocations initially proposed by the Argentinian Executive Power in the 2019 Budget Law for the National Women's Institute.
The efforts to analyze public budgets from a gender perspective are part of broader initiatives that seek to integrate a human rights approach and show how public spending and revenue are directly connected to the fulfillment of rights. Budgets must also take into account other variables, which have intersectionalities with gender, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, age, etc.
The States have received multiple recommendations to implement gender-responsive budgets, ensure that women have an equal voice in defining how public funds are spent, and carry out assessments of the impact of legislation and budgetary public policy in women. Both laws and fiscal policies and practices should be focused on ending structural discrimination rather than consolidating gender, ethnic, age, or economic inequalities.
We hope that this guide will help more organizations and activists to analyze their country's budget with a human rights approach, and that more of us will work to promote fairer public spending, so that more countries really commit to policies that guarantee gender equality.
Julieta Izcurdia is a lawyer in the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights department at the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), in Argentina.