UK Government 'lagging behind in making budgets work for women'

By agency reporter
September 21, 2018

The Women’s Budget Group (WBG) is urging the UK Government to follow the example of the Scottish Government in analysing economic policies for their equality impact.

The Scottish Government has established the Equality Budget Advisory Group to ensure that equality and human rights are considered when budgetary decisions are made

Other countries are starting to analyse their budgets for their gender impact in order to promote equality between women and men.  Within the G7 Canada, France and Japan publish a gender budget statement while non G7 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Korea, Spain and Sweden all have some gender budgeting initiatives.

WBG warned the UK Government that it is in danger of lagging behind, as it launched Women Count: A Casebook for Gender Responsive Budgeting. This brings together lessons learned from WBG’s work since 1989 and is aimed as a resource for organisations wanting to do similar work in other countries.

The Women’s Budget Group is recognised internationally for its work on gender budgeting. WBG members have advised the UN, G7 governments and civil society organisations.

Speaking at the launch of the Casebook, Dr Angela O’Hagan said: "Budget processes have increasingly become the conduit for discriminatory policies, such as the UK government’s rape clause and the cumulative attacks on welfare income especially among poorer women and women of colour.  It is essential that external voices such as UK Women’s Budget Group are engaged and heard, and that government’s budget processes are opened up to closer scrutiny for their impact on equalities groups and their potential to advance equality through more effective allocation of public finances and more equitable means of raising government revenue.  Scotland set out on this process many years ago and still has a long way to go.  In common with a number of other governments and sub-national governments, Scotland is continuing to make an effort to create a more progressive budget process."   

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the Women’s Budget Group said: "The Scottish Government and Governments around the world and international bodies like the UN have recognised that it is important to analyse how economic policies may impact differently on women and men in order to promote gender equality. It is time for the UK to join them.

"WBG has been analysing the impact of government economic policy on gender equality since 1989 and working to promote gender budgeting. We are often asked how we do what we do, and what lessons we have learned. Our new casebook Women Count, funded by OSF, draws on our experience to provide a resource for civil society organisations wanting to carry out similar work in their own countries".

What is Gender Responsive Budgeting?

 Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) is a tool to assess the impact of government budgets (and other economic policies) on inequalities between women and men in order to promote policies that will lead to greater equality.

It does not mean a specific ‘budget for women’:  reducing inequalities between women and men requires analysis of how all policy affects both women and men. Nor does it mean dividing expenditure equally between women and men, because that doesn’t necessarily result in reducing inequalities.

GRB looks at budgets to see how they meet the needs of women and men, girls and boys.

It can also involve assessing how budgets meet the needs of different groups of women and men, depending on their income, ethnicity, age or whether they live in rural or urban contexts.

GBR includes looking at the impact of economic policy not only on equalities in the paid economy (e.g. income, assets, pay and employment opportunities), but also on inequalities in unpaid work (such as care and domestic work) and other inequalities such as violence against women and girls, participation in decision making and so on.

One of the most important elements of gender responsive budgeting is gender impact assessment (sometimes called gender impact analysis), which is a tool to evaluate the potential impact of policies. Gender responsive budgeting uses this analysis for developing policies to promote equality.

* Download Women Count: A Casebook for Gender Responsive Budgeting  here

* Women's Budget Goup https://wbg.org.uk/


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