Historically, women around the world have had less opportunity than men in education, employment, and health care, and less political representation. Many global gender gaps have narrowed in recent decades, particularly in education enrollment. Even so, the World Economic Forum estimates that at the current rate of progress it will take 170 years to close the overall global gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.1 One hundred and seventy years. With a prognosis so dire, eliminating gender disparities may seem daunting and perhaps even impossible.
Christine Kadama, Ms. Lisa L Kolovich, Samson Kwalingana, Ms. Monique Newiak, Caroline Ntumwa, and Francine Nyankiye
Gender budgeting has advanced considerably in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s. South Africa, for example, was one of the earliest adopters of gender budgeting, launching its Women’s Budget Initiative in 1995. Almost 30 countries in the region have now introduced some form of gender budgeting, with the most developed and significant initiatives in Rwanda and Uganda.
Despite Asia’s progress over the past several decades in closing gender gaps in education, health, economic, and political outcomes, women and girls continue to encounter barriers relative to men. Gender gaps also continue in labor force participation, political representation, and health outcomes.1 To address these gender gaps, countries have implemented gender budgeting, which originated in Australia in the early 1980s and has since spread to more than 80 countries around the world.
Gender budgeting has attracted considerable attention in Europe over the past few decades. A burgeoning momentum during the early 2000s saw a full range of stakeholders promote a broad swath of activities under the rubric of gender budgeting. At that time, there was an expectation that gender budgeting would “liberate” and “elevate” gender, and gender mainstreaming, to the level of macro-economic policy and thus expedite the realization of oft-projected gender equality goals (Holvoet 2006). In return, advocates offered that gender budgeting would contribute to the goals of efficiency, economy, and effectiveness (Sharp 2003).
In Latin America, gender inequality in education, health, and employment opportunities, among other areas, is long-standing, not because of isolation, as in other regions, but due especially to poorly designed economic policies and discrimination based on social class, age, ethnicity, sexual preference, and religious belief.
Gender budgeting is struggling to take hold in the Middle East and Central Asia and, despite recent progress in improving conditions for women and girls, gender inequality remains entrenched in most of the region’s countries.
Gender inequality in the public and private spheres remains significant in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, despite efforts in several countries to experiment with integrating gender equality goals into national policies, programs, and budgets.
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.