For years, governments throughout the world have adopted commitments to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of millions of women, men, and youth. But governments have not always followed up these commitments with the policies and funds needed to effectively implement them. As a result, maternal mortality and teen pregnancy rates are still unacceptably high.
As citizens, we must hold our governments accountable to their commitments. Budget analysis is a powerful tool to determine whether governments have allocated sufficient financial resources to fulfill their promises and commitments.
For this reason, the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) has recently published a guide that provides civil society organizations and activists with the tools they need to conduct budget analyses on sexual and reproductive health.
The guide outlines how to identify relevant budgetary data and where to find it. Using examples relevant to sexual and reproductive health, it walks the reader through the necessary steps needed to undertake an initial budget analysis of public resources dedicated to a specific area and develop successful advocacy messages.
Why Is Budget Analysis Important for Sexual and Reproductive Health?
It is important to understand that accessing information on your government’s budget is not only a right, but also an analytical tool that can inform advocating for changes to the allocation of public resources.
Why is it a right? First, you have the right to know the fate of those resources because they include your direct and indirect tax contributions. The state spends these resources, imposes taxes, and borrows on your behalf.
Budget analysis is also a tool for various advocacy strategies and can generate concrete evidence that complements analysis of public policies. While governments have made international and domestic commitments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health, statistics show that a large outstanding gap regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights still exists.
There is a clear need for civil society to demand and analyze budget information related to sexual and reproductive health. However, budget information on these issues is often either not available or not sufficiently desegregated to be useful. To assess and develop recommendations for governments with the goal of improving access to family planning, education, and reproductive health services, among other issues, more and better budget information needs to be made publically available.
Why This Tool?
Budget analysis is a crucial component of fostering political change, but it is often left to economists and other experts. To pave the way for non-experts, IPPF/WHR’s guide helps readers define what budget lines or areas of sexual and reproductive they want to analyze, such as adolescent pregnancy and access to safe abortion. The guide then helps readers to search for information and conduct the analysis to help advocates build the evidence needed to achieve their advocacy goals.
With the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the Finance for Development process being finalized this year, holding governments accountable for their commitments is more crucial than ever. And civil society organizations and advocates have an important role to play. Ultimately, this guide aims to help readers ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights are upheld in their countries.