Budgets are not gender neutral. The way funds are allocated and distributed affects all genders differently. To achieve gender equity commitments, public finance systems must consistently incorporate a gender perspective throughout budget formulation, implementation, reporting and oversight. This approach, known as gender responsive budgeting (GRB), looks at the entire government budget from a gender perspective, assessing how it will address the gender-specific needs of the population. To date, a majority of GRB efforts focus on increasing the gender responsiveness of budget allocations. However, funds are often shifted between sectors and programs during budget implementation in ways that disadvantage women and girls. In 2022, an IMF survey found that “while all G20 countries have enacted gender focused fiscal policies, the budgetary tools to operationalize, evaluate, monitor and audit these policies remain more limited.”
Civil society organizations (CSOs) can engage governments to improve their gender responsive practices. In October 2022, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) and the Gender Budget Watchdog Network (GBWN) convened experts, including analysts and activists, to share experiences, perspectives, resources, methodologies and approaches to analyzing and holding governments accountable to gender responsive budgeting during budget execution. The convening also served as a call to CSOs working in this space to collaborate on contributions to IBP and GBWN’s working paper documenting lessons and learning on the topic. IBP and GBWN followed up with interested CSOs, conducting interviews and drafting case studies with key input from collaborating partners.
The following paper consolidates findings from these collaborations, aiming to share the experiences, perspectives, resources and methodologies that CSOs have used to hold their governments accountable to GRB commitments. The first section provides some background on the GBWN and its approach to accountability. The second section looks at methodologies for monitoring the implementation of GRB in Argentina, Mexico and India. The case of Argentina highlights the power of CSO pressure in institutionalizing GRB. Mexico’s case looks at how CSOs can monitor gender tagging systems, and the third case outlines how academia is measuring GRB budget credibility in India. The final section outlines community-centered approaches, seeing how CSOs in Zimbabwe and Zambia work with communities to provide them with the knowledge and tools to speak up to government when budget promises are not met.