Feminist economics posts

Global Gender Budgeting Experiments as Public Policy Innovation

Budgets are prima facie gender-ignorant. But gender-conscious budgeting can improve efficiency and effectiveness of fiscal policy as well as helping to redress gender inequalities. As the IMF, for the first time ever, asked its member nations to integrate gender budgeting in Public Finance Management this year (Stotsky, 2016), it is opportune to unpack what gender budgeting entails.

Over the years, gender budgeting has evolved across countries broadly in three specific categories. First, the countries that have tried to analyse the implications of budget through a gender lens, which we can refer to as “ex-post gender budgeting.” Second, countries have tried to undertake “ex-ante gender budgeting” to identify gender needs spatially prior to budgeting. Third, countries have analyzed the “fiscal marksmanship,” which entails identifying the gap between the amount budgeted and the actual spending.

In a country like India, where it is well-known that gender discrimination starts even before birth resulting in adverse sex ratios at birth, gender budgeting is a powerful tool to redress gender inequalities (Chakraborty, 2016; Stotsky and Zaman, 2017). India leads the ex-post gender budgeting country category since 2000. A Gender Budget Statement has been produced in India within the budget document analyzing the existing budgetary allocations through a gender lens (Expenditure Budget, Volume 1, Govt of India 2017). However, only recently, ex-ante gender budgeting through innovative programs has been framed and budgetary allocation was decided for women’s economic and social empowerment in India. Integrating gender in energy infrastructure by providing clean cooking fuel was the prime example for such public spending.[1]

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Korea is yet another leading example of ex-post gender budgeting.  Korea has integrated gender budgeting within National Finance Law, 2006 as a legal mandate. Only a few countries have made gender budgeting legally mandatory. Korea, the Philippines, and a province in Mexico (Oaxaca) are the prime examples (Chakraborty, 2016; Pérez Fragoso, Lucia, and Rodríguez Enríquez, C., 2016). In the Philippines, gender budgeting was made mandatory by legally demanding to ensure 5 per cent of all sectoral expenditure on women. However, the “earmarking” principle of Gender and Development budget of the Philippines can only be a second best principle of gender budgeting because earmarking can prevent mainstreaming of gender in macroeconomic policies. In ex-ante category of gender budgeting, the Philippine communes (rural areas) in Sorsogon and Hilongos have contributed successful examples. These third tier communities identified the gender needs, undertook costing strategies, and incorporated gender budgeting, not as earmarked budgets. In Mexico, the ex-ante gender budgeting was highly sectoral.[2]

The fiscal marksmanship of gender budgeting has been analysed for a few countries like India and Sri Lanka. Such analysis is important because higher budgetary allocation does not automatically ensure higher public expenditure for women’s empowerment.   There tends to be a lot of deviation between budget estimates and actual spending.

The gender budgeting experiences are not confined to public expenditure profiles across the globe (Kolovich and Shibuya, 2016; Stotsky et al 2016, Quinn, 2016, Chakraborty, 2016, Christine and Thakur, 2016). Gender budgeting has also been implemented, albeit very rarely, in taxation policies, for instance by providing gender differential rates, with lower rates for women for registering property in certain provinces in India. Taking gender budgeting effectively to subnational levels, without applying “one size fits all” policies, is the real challenge. This step requires integration of gender in the intergovernmental transfer mechanism, which is the next major goal.

IMF’s commitment in integrating gender budgeting would help to enhance the transparency and accountability of the fiscal allocations for gender-aware human development, in all the three budgeting categories. The overall macroeconomic environment – especially the procedures that relate to fiscal rules and avoiding fiscal austerity – plays a major role in ensuring gender equitable outcomes of gender budgeting.



Chakraborty and Sinha (2008) Budgetary Forecasting in India: partitioning the errors and testing rational expectations, MPRA Working Paper 7538, Munich University https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/7538/1/MPRA_paper_7538.pdf

Chakraborty, Lekha, 2016, “Asia: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts,” IMF Working Paper 16/150.

Christie, Tamoya A. L., and Thakur, D., 2016, “Caribbean and Pacific Islands: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts,” IMF Working Paper 16/154.

Government of India , 2017, Gender Budgeting Statement, Expenditure Budget, Volume 1, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi.

Kolovich, Lisa and Shibuya, S., “Middle East and Central Asia: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts,” IMF Working Paper 16/151.

Pérez Fragoso, Lucia, and Rodríguez Enríquez, C., 2016, “Western Hemisphere: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts,” IMF Working Paper 16/153.

Quinn, Sheila, 2016, “Europe: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts,” IMF Working Paper 16/155.

Stotsky, Janet G., 2016, “Gender Budgeting: Fiscal Context and Current Outcomes.,” IMF Working Paper 16/149.

Stotsky, Janet G., Kolovich, L., and Kebhaj, S. , 2016, “Sub-Saharan Africa: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts,” IMF Working Paper 16/152.

Stotsky, Janet, and Zaman. A., 2016, “The Influence of Gender Budgeting in Indian States on Gender Inequality and Fiscal Spending,” IMF Working Paper 16/227.


[1] This direct benefit transfer scheme of providing Liquefied Petroleum Gas to women in poor households has positive externalities.  It reduces the incidence of women and children dying out of respiratory illness arising out of indoor air pollution. It reduces the time poverty of women and girls, who were given the primary responsibility to ensure fuel in home. It increases the enrolment of girls in school, who were otherwise burdened with care economy activities due to the deficiency of infrastructure like energy and water (Chakraborty, 2013).

[2] In the health sector, Mexico has experimented ex-ante gender budgeting by identifying the logical entry points to integrate health concerns. In India, one of the states, Kerala, has attempted ex-ante gender budgeting at third tier of federalism in rural local bodies – referred to as Panchayats – as a part of the big bang fiscal decentralization experiments since late 1990s.  The usual sequence of fiscal decentralization is to devolve “functions” or assignment of activities from national government followed by financial devolution. This sequence can lead to “unfunded mandates” as the required finances would not devolve along with functions. By contrast, in Kerala, decentralization experiments reversed the sequence – finance devolved before functions – thereby integrating a women’s component plan in the devolved funds.


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