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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Under the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG1), the international community aims to halve the global rate of extreme income poverty—as measured by the share of the population living on less than $1 per day—between 1990 and 2015. Current trends and growth forecasts indicate that this goal will be achieved, although not in Sub-Saharan Africa. High growth in China and India explains much of the reduction in the global poverty rate, although progress toward MDG1 has also quickened in many other developing countries. High growth has continued in most of the developing world in the past year as a result of better policies in developing countries and a favorable global environment. The outlook for growth and poverty reduction remains favorable, although some risks remain. In particular, low-income country per capita growth is expected to remain above 5 percent in 2007.1
Since 2000, over 34 million additional children in the developing world have gained the chance to attend, and complete, primary school—one of the most massive expansions of schooling access in history. Over 550 million children have been vaccinated against measles—doubling the coverage rates in some countries, and driving down measles deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa by 75 percent. The number of developing-country AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) patients with access to antiretroviral treatment increased from 240,000 in 2001 to over 1.6 million at mid-2006. Despite migration and resource constraints, health workers and clinic visits across the developing world are increasing significantly, as are the share of pregnant women with access to health care when they deliver, and the share of young children with regular health and nutrition screening. There is now little question that the “stretch” goals adopted by the global community in 2000 to promote human development have helped stimulate and support more rapid expansion of basic health and education services across the developing world.