This volume contains seven chapters that consider how fiscal policies can address women’s and girls’ disadvantages in education, health, employment, and financial well-being. Researchers from a joint collaboration between the International Monetary Fund and the UK’s Department for International Development presented papers at a 2016 international conference on gender budgeting at the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, DC, and detail the findings of their work here, which draws on published materials, a questionnaire sent to ministries of finance to all International Monetary Fund member countries, and interviews with country officials and international organizations that offer technical assistance to countries seeking to implement gender budgeting. They describe key gender budgeting efforts planning, allocating, and monitoring government expenditures and taxes to address gender inequality in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Canada, the Middle East and Central Asia, and the Pacific Islands and Caribbean.

Fiscal Policies and Gender Equality

Lisa Kolovich, Editor

© 2018 International Monetary Fund

Cover design: Jesse Sanchez Art and Design

Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Joint Bank-Fund Library

Names: Kolovich, Lisa. | International Monetary Fund.

Title: Fiscal policies and gender equality / Lisa Kolovich, editor.

Description: Washington, DC : International Monetary Fund, [2018] | | Includes bibliographical references.

Identifiers: ISBN 9781513590363 (Paper) | 9781484348871 (ePub) | 9781484348888 (Mobipocket) | 9781484348901 (PDF)

Subjects: LCSH: Women’s rights. | Sex role in the work environment. | Sex discrimination in employment. | Fiscal policy.

Classification: LCC HQ1236.F583 2018

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the International Monetary Fund, its Executive Board, or its management.

Recommended citation: Kolovich, Lisa, editor. 2018. Fiscal Policies and Gender Equality. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

ISBN 978-1-51359-036-3 (Paper)

978-1-48434-887-1 (ePub)

978-1-48434-888-8 (Mobipocket)

978-1-48434-890-1 (PDF)

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  • Foreword by Christine Lagarde

  • Acknowledgments

  • 1 | Gender Budgeting: How Fiscal Policy Can Promote Gender Equality

    • Lisa Kolovich

  • 2 | Sub-Saharan Africa

    • Christine Kadama, Lisa Kolovich, Samson Kwalingana, Monique Newiak, Caroline Ntumwa, and Francine Nyankiye

  • 3 | Asia and Pacific

    • Lisa Kolovich and Prakash Loungani

  • 4 | Europe

    • Sheila Quinn

  • 5 | Latin America and Canada

    • Lucía Pérez Fragoso and Corina Rodríguez Enríquez

  • 6 | Middle East and Central Asia

    • Lisa Kolovich and Sakina Shibuya

  • 7 | Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Small States

    • Tamoya A. L. Christie and Dhanaraj Thakur

  • Index


The International Monetary Fund is deeply committed to playing its role in building a global economy that benefits all people—through policy advice, capacity development, and financial support. While not long ago few people would have expected the IMF to be engaged in work on gender inequality, the IMF is now committed to promoting gender equality because empowering women is not only the right moral choice, it is also critical for economic growth and prosperity.

Our work includes assessing the impact of gender inequality on macroeconomic outcomes, inclusive growth, and development. Working with country authorities, academics, and other international organizations, over the past few years the IMF has contributed to building a solid analytical foundation. For example, we have explored the ways in which empowering women can raise GDP growth. In low-income countries, for instance, a 10 percentage point decrease in gender inequality could boost growth by 2 percentage points over the following five years. Women’s empowerment can also support economic diversification, help economies cope with demographic change, tackle income inequality, and boost corporate performance. We have assessed the macroeconomic benefits of removing legal barriers that currently restrict women’s economic participation in 90 percent of countries around the world. We have also identified policies to get more women into paid, formal work. These include investing in education and infrastructure, supporting family-friendly working practices, and reforming tax systems.

Our work does not stop with research and analysis. We are actively incorporating gender analysis and specific policy advice into our annual reviews of member countries’ economies. To date, we have completed gender studies for 27 countries, with more to come. For India, we recommended investing in transportation to ease workers’ transition from informal to formal employment. We emphasized the economic benefits of investing in girls’ education for Chile, Costa Rica, Hungary, and Pakistan, among others. For Germany, we highlighted the need for high-quality and affordable childcare, and we called for tax reforms to avoid penalizing secondary earners—usually women. For Mauritius, we examined ways to expand women’s access to finance, which can help them start or expand small businesses. Importantly, in IMF-supported lending programs—including in Jordan, Egypt, and Niger—we increasingly emphasize women’s economic empowerment and participation. In Egypt, for instance, our program supports improved provision of childcare, as well as safer public transport.

Clearly, sound fiscal policies are a prerequisite for macroeconomic stability—which is essential to boost growth, jobs, and income for all. At the same time, fiscal policy must be actively shaped to achieve gender equality goals—an approach referred to as “gender budgeting.” In 2016, the IMF, in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), completed the first-ever global review of gender budgeting efforts. Building upon this survey, we began to emphasize the potential of gender budgeting, and we offer technical assistance to help member countries implement initiatives to use fiscal policy and public financial management to promote gender equality. This book builds on the findings of the 2016 IMF—DFID survey to provide a snapshot of such initiatives around the globe. Work on fiscal policy and gender is increasingly relevant as the global community seeks to achieve specific targets under the Sustainable Development Goals.

Though we still have a long way to go before gender equality and its economic potential are fully realized, through our research and policy advice, we are contributing to the global effort to get us there.

Christine Lagarde

Managing Director

International Monetary Fund


This book explores how fiscal policies can contribute to addressing women’s and girls’ disadvantages in education, health, employment, and financial well-being, and represents the efforts of a team of researchers from a joint collaboration between the International Monetary Fund and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). A series of working papers and toolkit were developed, and versions of these papers were presented and discussed at an IMF conference in November 2016. That conference convened about 150 practitioners, academics, policymakers, and civil society representatives to discuss how fiscal policies can contribute to gender equality, with a focus on low-income countries. The participants examined evidence-based design of fiscal policies to promote equality and practical aspects of implementing gender budgeting.

The IMF acknowledges the contribution of Janet Stotsky to the IMF’s work on gender budgeting under the DFID-sponsored research project. Dr. Stotsky, currently Economist in Residence at American University, was an economist and manager with the IMF for 21 years. She led IMF teams to negotiate with IMF member countries, prepare country reports on macroeconomic developments, and provide technical assistance on fiscal policies and administration.

The following IMF staff members and outside experts provided helpful discussion and comments throughout this project: Virginia Alonso Albarran, Andrew Berg, Mark Blackden, Rupa Duttagupta, Diane Elson, Manal Fouad, Caren Grown, Zohra Khan, Stephan Klasen, Kalpana Kochhar, Prakash Loungani, Monique Newiak, Chris Papageorgiou, Carolina Renteria Rodriguez, Sakina Shibuya, Alberto Soler, and Daria Zakharova.

The manuscript for this book was edited by Eric Van Zant. The cover was designed by Jesse Sanchez Art & Design. Linda Griffin Kean in the Editorial and Publications Division of the IMF’s Communications Department supervised the editing and production of the book.