Gender responsive budgets, today, have emerged as a pivotal strategy in analysing budgets in
the context of gender equality. People today utilise a variety of tools and processes to scrutinize
the impact of expenditures and allocations on the socio-economic position of men, women,
boys and girls.
The economy has, for long, been considered as the world of money, machines and men. An
example of this is reflected in GDP measurement. The issue primarily arises when labour wages
and odd jobs are included while the hours spent working at home providing care and the likes
lose out. Since women are mostly involved in providing care in the household, such a system
undervalues their work and their importance in the world. Marilyn Waring in her book, If
Women Counted, argued that the concept of GDP measurement was designed by men to keep
women “in their place”.
Similar analogy holds true for public policies. For instance, if a particular public service is
restricted, a simple analysis would lead us to say that the amount spent on the service has been
cut down. But, a gender responsible analysis could probably lead us to state that this
redistribution will worsen gender inequality considering the fact that the majority affected
group here are women.
Gender Budgeting in India
In India, gender budgeting was first adopted at union level in 2000. To achieve gender equality,
the then planning commission in its Ninth Plan (1997-2002) introduced ‘Women’s Component
Plan’. In this plan, 30 percent of development funds were earmarked for women in different
sectors. Lately, it was revealed that the earmarked 30 percent of the development fund was not
disbursed effectively amongst women making it inefficient in terms of integrating gender in
macro-economic policy making. To sincerely incorporate gender budgeting, India parted ways
with the ‘component plans’ to macro level gender budgeting in 2000, thus moving forward
from planning to budgeting.
The union initiative was established by framing a system of budgetary transactions
classification, formation of different cells in every Ministry of the government that identified
various gender-oriented goals and finding ways for accomplishing the identified goals through
budget. Gender budgeting efforts in India have comprehended four progressive phases: (a)
knowledge building and networking, (b) institutionalizing the process, (c) capacity building,
and (d) enhancing accountability. All of which are shown in the table.
Period Phases Actors Outcome
2000-03 Knowledge
Building &
National Institute of
Public Finance &
Policy (NIPFP),
Ministry of Women &
Child Development
(UN Women),
Ministry of Finance
1. Ex-post analysis of budget through a
gender lens with objective ‘budgeting for
gender equity’
2. Highlighted the need to integrate the
unpaid care economy into budgetary
3. Linking public expenditure & gender
2004-05 Institutionalizing Ministry of Finance,
1. Expert committee on ‘Classification of
Budgetary Transactions” with gender
budgeting in terms of reference
2. Budget announcement on India’s
commitment to gender budgeting.
3. Analytical matrices to do gender
budgeting were designed by MOF &
4. Gender Budgeting Cells were
established in Ministries.
Two Phases. (i) Phase
MoF (till 2006), Phase
Women (2006-
GBC Officials, Ministries and State
Officers training; Charter on gender
budgeting specifying the responsibilities
of GRB cells
The Planning
Commission (Eleventh
Five Year Plan)
incorporated a
Committee on
Accountability. NIPFP
has been part of this
process with Planning
Comptroller and
Auditor General has
auditing of gender
budgeting at the state
Comptroller and Auditor General of India,
since 2010, has been publishing a report
on Gender Budgeting in the State Finance
Accounts. The accountability mechanism
is yet to follow up effectively. This report
covers money “actually spent” on women
The objectives of gender budgeting in India was to guarantee efficiency and gender equity in
the fiscal policies of the government. These efforts extending from national to subnational
institutional levels have not only affected expenditure but also revenue policies. Gender
budgeting has been introduced in various fields of public finance, that include informing tax
reforms, revising budget classification procedures to integrate gender; informing tax reforms,
shaping inter-governmental fiscal transfers, fiscal decentralization efforts, and local budgeting;
and assessing the effectiveness of public expenditure through the development of benefit
incidence analysis.
The NIPFP methodology used to categorize public expenditure into specific programs for
women and public expenditure with intrinsic components of allocations for women.
Expenditures are classified in three classifications:
(i) Expenditure specifically targeted to women and girls
(ii) Pro-women allocations, which are expenditure schemes with at least a 30 percent
targeting of women, on a scale of 30 to 100
(iii) Mainstream public expenditures with gender-differentiated impacts (between 0 to
30 targeting of women)
Working on the central government framework and analytical matrices, state government
started adopting gender budgeting, first being Odisha in 2004. At present, a total of 16 states
have introduced gender budgeting. Although implemented with different goals and strategies,
several studies suggest that generalised focus was on the identification of imperative goals to
alleviate women’s and girls’ education, health and welfare, and women’s economic
empowerment. In Karnataka, gender budgeting was adopted in 2006/07 and a Gender Budget
Cell was established with the Finance Department to collaborate with the Women and Child
Development Department to promote gender budgeting. “Karnataka Mahila Abhivruddhi
Yojana” scheme was introduced which aims at allocating one third of the resources in labourintensive
and individual beneficiary schemes of the state government. It majorly focused on
educational and vocational skill training for social welfare. In Kerala, gender budgeting was
initiated in 2008-09, major programs being school initiatives aimed at training women for
particular job sets, protection of women against domestic violence, health and sanitation
expenditure. All the studies have a mixed opinion about the results of the implementation of
gender budgeting in India, since lack of sex-disaggregated data proved to be the basic deterrent
to effective gender budgeting efforts. Also, the paucity of data was a constraint in validating
the classification of spending.
Joshi (2013) conducted a study on gender budgeting efforts in six states: Rajasthan, Gujarat,
Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. Results of the study concluded that
institutionalization and implementation has been different. Some of the efforts were revealed
to be found on papers only, rather than being constructive actions. Centre for Budget and
Governance Accountability (2012) study had almost the similar kind of results, but appreciated
Kerala and Madhya Pradesh for the substantive efforts in changing fiscal policies to address
gender-related goals.
Challenges and Lessons Learnt from India:
1. It is rather simple to identify specifically targeted programs for women based on the budgets.
However, these form less than 1 percent of the budget as a whole. Thus, the real challenge of
the gender budgeting exercise lies in the analysis of the remaining 99 percent of the budget
through a gender lens.
2. Gender disaggregated benefit incidence analysis can be a useful tool for analysing the
distributional impacts of public expenditure across gender.
3. Another area of policy concern is the use of time budgets and integrating the unpaid care
economy into fiscal policies. Chakraborty (2008a and 2008b) analysed the implications of
time-use statistics for fiscal policy making, especially investment in public infrastructure, for
example the water sector.
4. Equally important is integrating gender into monetary policy making. Domestic financial
deregulation policies could have gender differential effects; however, hardly any study captures
these effects, especially in the credit market.
5. Despite the growing recognition of fiscal decentralization in gender development, and its
gaining prevalence in public policy making, there have been relatively few attempts to
implement fiscally decentralized policies for development in the area of gender. Decentralized
gender budgeting is important especially, when almost all states’ major components of their
social sector allocations are at the subnational level.
6. The analysis of the revenue side of gender-responsive budgeting is at the embryonic stage
due to the lack of gender disaggregated tax data, namely direct tax, and indirect tax user
Global scenario and best practices in Gender Budgeting:
Like India, Gender Budgeting initiatives have been implemented in the countries throughout
the world especially in the western part of the world. Initially, what used to happen was that
the gender responsive budgeting initiatives were focused just on applying the gender analysis
to past and current budgets. Only some of the initiatives especially in South Africa, Mexico,
UK, Austria were such that they had gone to change the ways budgets were formulated going
beyond just the analysis stage of gender budgeting. This made the governments more
responsible towards the needs and concerns of the men, women and girls and boys.
Australia was the pioneer in adopting gender budgeting, it was one of the first countries to look
into the budgets in terms of gender perspective adopting it in their budget in 1984. It
implemented the idea of an annual Women’s Budget Statement, which identified fiscal actions
essential for gender equality at the federal level, and then prolonged this idea to fiscal policies
at both the state as well as territory level. It categorized public expenditures into three parts:
the first into those which only targeted women, the second into those targeting women’s civil
service employment, and the last were the remaining expenditures. It was the first time a
government was committed to gender equality through its own budget, making it a very
innovative one.
The effects of implementing this were seen in the coming years. Governments committed to
help the working women in child care and in low income families. But this commitment later
decreased over time and now it no longer considers itself a country using gender budgeting.
Still, the approach is being used now too as the government uses gender disaggregated data to
analyse its fiscal policies.
Today’ Best Gender Budgeting Practices
Korea has one of the most substantive gender budgeting initiatives in the world. These
initiatives are applied to all levels of government
These are the practices held in Korea which were mainly started through the National Finance
Act of 2006.
? Preparation and submission of gender budgets and gender balance reports from the
fiscal year 2010.
? The Government analyses the impact of the budget on women and men, encompassing
both spending and revenues through the gender budget statements.
? The government is required to produce a gender balance sheet, which assesses whether
the budget benefits women and men equally and remedies gender discrimination.
? The government has set up Women’s Focal Points throughout the key ministries of
government, including Justice, Agriculture and Forestry, Health and Welfare,
Education and Human Resources, Labour and Government and Home Affairs.
? The Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI), a policy think tank, has initiated
research and methodology on gender budgeting. The main objective of the KWDI is to
provide a framework in which gender can be integrated in the medium-term expenditure
framework, program budgeting formats, and performance budgeting. These have
helped improve the infrastructure for women and also helped to improve the work force
participation of women by reducing the unpaid work burdens of women.
In Austria, gender budgeting is one of the four constitutionally mandated budgetary principles.
Others are transparency, efficiency, and a fair view of the financial position of the federal
government. This importance given to gender budgeting makes it one of the strongest gender
budgeting initiative in Europe. Gender budgeting has led to improved systems of accountability
for public spending for gender-oriented purposes
Austria has conducted regular studies on impact on revenue policy on gender equality. Some
of the measures in gender budgeting are
? Reduced Entry level tax of 25% (previously 36.5%) to decrease the gap between
disposable income of men and women
? Increase in tax allowance for couples with children. Benefit avails only if both
the partners claim for the allowance.
Belgium is another country that adopted comprehensive approach to gender budgeting. Belgian
government passed a law in 2007 that integrated gender dimension in all the fiscal policies.
This law requires ministries to identify gender equality objectives and link them to budget
programs. Further, the law requires the discussion of the budget in parliament to include gender
equality actions, and all the laws will subject to assessment in terms of the potential differential
impact on women and men. Another important part of the law is to mandate the collection and
use of sex-disaggregated data. Sex- disaggregated data and gender relations data is crucial for
understanding the impact of these policies on reducing gender equality.
South Africa
Gender responsive budgeting contributed to the introduction of child support grant, given to
the primary caregivers of young children from poor households. Also, in 1998, Ministry found
that in the Public works program, women are more likely to hold more menial jobs, had lower
jobs, lower average wages and received less training than males. Ministry used this evaluation
to fine tune the future programs.
In this case we understand the importance of having sex-disaggregated data to understand and
identify the pain points in achieving gender equality.
Fiscal Policy Implications for gender budgeting
Regardless of the country’s economic and political development, well-structured fiscal policies
have the potential to improve the gender equality and achieve development of women and girls
in the society. Based on the extensive research carried on the impact of gender budgeting across
the countries, these strategies are suggested for effective implementation of gender budgeting
For Low-income developing countries:
? Improve access to girls secondary and tertiary education and their participation
? Gender oriented health goals as priorities which helps to reduce maternal mortality and
sexually transmitted diseases
? Assess key sectors of the economy in which women could participate more
For countries with well-developed income and social security systems
? Identify structures in tax system which lead to higher effective tax rates on secondary
workers and eliminate those which discourage female participation in labor
? Ensure security for elderly women through reform of fiscal policies. Security of elderly
women is a growing problem in view of women’s more limited paid work history
compared to men’s
United Nations Development fund for women (UNIFEM) has created a web portal on Gender
Responsive Budgeting in 2001, which was relaunched again in 2010. Its aims to bring together
the academic practitioners, researchers, governments and nongovernmental organizations to
facilitate exchange of information. The web portal is exclusively devoted to gender budgeting
having unlimited number of resources for understanding and applying gender budgeting for
everyone around the world.
? Gender budgeting in Europe: What can we learn from best practice? – Sheila Quinn
? Gender Budgeting: Fiscal Context and Current Outcomes – Janet Gale Stosky
? Impact of gender-responsive budgeting Emilie Combaz (2013)
? Chakraborty, Lekha, 2016, Asia: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts, IMF Working
Paper 16/150 (Washington, DC: IMF)
? Gender Budgeting in G7 countries, IMF edition dated April 19, 2017
? Overview of Gender-Responsive Budget Initiatives, A discussion paper for ILO staff,
Bureau for Gender Equality
? Ça?atay, N (1998), “Engendering Macropolicies and Macroeconomic Policies,” WP6,
New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
? Central Statistical Organisation (2000), “Report of the Time Use Survey,” Ministry of
Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi.
? (2003a), “Gender Based Analysis (GBA) in Canada: Lessons for India,” Paper prepared
under SICI-DFAIT Government of Canada Faculty Research Fellowship at University of
Carleton, Ottawa.
? (2003b), “Macroscan of Union Budget through a Gender Lens,” UNIFEM, New Delhi.
? (2005a), “Public Policy Stance and Human Development: An Empirical Analysis,” in
Bhattacharyya, BB and A Mitra (eds.), Macroeconomics and Welfare. Academic
Publishers, New Delhi.
? (2005b), “Gender Budgeting in Selected Ministries: Conceptual and Methodological
Issues,” Working Paper, NIPFP-DWCD, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, May.
Group Member Details:
Pratush Das
Raghu Vinay Chalamalasetti
Jobanpreet Singh
Gaurav Bansal