Why gender responsive budgeting is vital for sustainable development

In Summary

In Tanzania, the GRB initiative was initiated by TGNP in 1997 with the purpose of mainstreaming gender in the national budget. Established in 1993, For 25 years now, TGNP focused on practical promotion and application of gender equality and equity objectives through policy advocacy and mainstreaming.

Tanzania recognizes gender as a developmental issue since existing gender imbalances and inequalities in the society prevent the society from realizing its full potential in all activities of development whether in economic, social or political dimensions.

On account of that situation, the government institutionalized the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) process to ensure resources are allocated equitably to cover the diverse needs of all groups of people in the society.

Speaking on Thursday in Dar es Salaam during a two days workshop on GRB institutionalization to end violence against women and children, the manager for Activism and Movement Building at the TGNP Mtandao Grace Kisetu (on above photo) commended efforts by fifth phase government.

She said it was struggling to make sure the national cake/resources are enjoyed by all, especially marginalized portions of society.

Ms. Kisetu noted that the workshop was meant to strengthen the capacity of government officials responsible for budget and policy planning regrding Gender Responsive Budget (GRB).

They were specifically being put to comprehend how in their capacities they could support the implementation of the national plan of action (NPA) to end violence against women and children.

“Gender based violence prevents our economy from attaining its full economic potential as it is diverting resources from their optimal use and it has a significant negative impact on attaining sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030,” the manager underlined.

“The workshop which brings together seven different ministries looks at the NPA and specifically how we can properly allocate our resources to address, among others child marriage, child pregnancies and female genital mutilation (FGM).”

The workshop was organised by TGNP Mtandao in collaboration with the ministries of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDEC) and the Ministry of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

For his part, gender and development consultant and TGNP member Edward Mhina said that GRB contributes to the advancement of equality and equity between different groups of people in a given country/society.

“GRB means translating legal, policy and programme commitments to gender equality into budgetary commitments,” he said, insisting that GRB is not a separate budget for women.

It focuses on identifying and reflecting interventions needed to addressing gender gaps in a sector, local government policies, plans and budgets, analyzing the gender differential impact of revenue raising policies, allocations of domestic resources and official development assistance.

Furthermore GRB makes budgeting as a whole more transparent by showing connections between the overall budget and prevailing patterns of gender inequality.

It thus helps to bring together the two sets of knowledge that have so far been kept separate, cultivating understanding about public funds and public services on the one hand and awareness of the different and unequal life experiences of women and men, girls and boys on the other. It also addresses the needs of different groups of people in a given society.

GRB is therefore an instrument used by the government to ensure that targets and activities are financed and accomplished in order to realize the desired needs of different groups in society.

Engendering the government budget is a complex process which requires not only a well-designed planning and budgeting process but also national and international commitments to attain it.

Despite of several initiatives taken by the government on gender mainstreaming in the budget process, still have some challenges in addressing gender gaps in designing, planning and executing the budgeting process by implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

Challenges that face different stakeholders include iInadequate GRB skills among decision makers, planners and budget officers, he said.

There are also factors like a shortage of sex and gender disaggregated data in government plans and budget, lack of awareness on focusing priorities, needs and interest in gender interventions.

“There is lack of GRB common understanding among government institutions illustrated by lack of GRB focus on key economic and social matters that are often overlooked or obscured in conventional budget, policy analysis and decision making,” the consultant underlined.

Dr Lucy Ssendi, a senior climate change advisor from PO-RALG said that having recognized the importance of GRB, the government mainstreamed it in the comprehensive national budget.

Photo: Dr Lucy speaking during the workshop.

“Countries that are good at gender responsive budgeting have made great strides in development. Therefore, GRB must be mainstreamed at national and sub-national levels,” she asserted.

Gender Budgeting and Human Rights consultant and activist, Gemma Akilimali urged the government to mainstream gender responsive budgeting by implementing it fully.

“I would call upon the government to give resources for capacity building of some actors on gender responsible budgeting so that they can easily mainstream it in their respective areas.”

Other findings have identified advantages of gender budgeting in the sense that GRB creates greater transparency regarding the criteria that form the basis for budget related political decisions.

It also facilitates greater accuracy and sustainability as available funds are more precisely tailored to the real needs of the different social groups.

“It is a procedure that makes discriminating implications of financially effective decisions visible, and that enables a gender-equitable restructuring of resource- related decisions. It is an option to put gender-equality-related goals into practice, including in times of bigger budgetary margins.”

GRB focuses on macroeconomic policies and planning with a focus on budget processes to address gender equality as well as women’s empowerment through training, information, lobbying and network building. Since then the GBR initiative has gained ground in the country despite challenges.

Now, the fifth phase government is pushing to transform the economy to make the country attain middle income status by 2025. The government’s push for economic transformation is meant to ensure that the majority women who constitutes more than 50 per cent of the country’s population and poorest sectors of society are helped to fight the scourge of creeping poverty.

From the late 1990s, gender budgeting was used in different areas o assess the impact of government expenditures on citizens generally along with women and children specifically, and to transform budget programmes to target priority needs and close gender gaps.