Mainstream gender in national budget- Shejavali

The finance ministry should take the initiative in coming up with a gender sensitive budget in order to address gender equality through the budget process, researcher Nangula Shejavali has said. 

In her recommendations on the paper, “Women in the budget: An explanation of Namibia’s gender budgeting process” co-authored by Max Weylandt, she makes use of Rwanda as an example where   gender budgeting faltered “partly because the Ministry of Finance did not play a central role.”

“Experience shows that other ministries will only start paying attention once they know this will affect the funds they receive,” says the researcher.  

Shejavali lobbies for the setting up of an office to monitor compliance such as one in Rwanda.

 It will be important not just to review the extent of compliance, but also the quality and effects of gender budgeting, as well as the needs going forward, she submits.  

This also implies capacity building but she warns that the complexity of gender budgeting goes beyond merely soliciting for international experts for technical expertise is not sustainable.

“A 2013 review of South Africa’s gender-budgeting efforts emphasized the importance of sex-disaggregated data, and “proposed that government provide gender units with adequate resources, technical skills and knowledge,” she says.

The impact and continued approach towards budgeting with gender lenses can be attained by enshrining the concept in laws and regulations so it has a lasting legacy that will be carried forward, she argues.

She gives the example of South Africa where, “the first wave of gender budgeting petered out once the officials who had pushed for it departed from the Ministry of Finance and Parliament.”

"Ensure that budgets are informed by data and research. It is difficult to plan, implement and monitor gendered impacts in the absence of sex-disaggregated data. The NDP5 has highlighted this as a priority, and the MGECW, the NPC, the Ministry of Finance and government at large need to do better to ensure the collection of adequate data across the board to better inform outcomes,” says Shejavali. 

She also observes that there appears to be little appreciation for the benefits of gender responsive budgeting across ministries, with most seemingly relegating this responsibility to the ministry of gender.

“To gain better buy-in from all government offices represented in the national budget, it would be critical that the MoF and MGECW do more to sensitize other government institutions about the broad benefits of GRB, and the potential it creates to more thoroughly assess impacts across the board,” she advises.  

She also points that civil society groups should monitor impacts and get involved in the process while media reporting should dig deeper to assess gendered impacts.

“Media institutions should undergo gender bias training for their staff to ensure that their reporting is more sensitive to gender issues. Further, reporters should dig deeper in providing analysis on how the issues on which they are reporting might impact women and men, and girls and boys. Finally, in reporting on the budget, media should look to how gender features in the national budget,” says the researcher.