“Imagine a world where women’s and girls’ rights are equally respected, valued and protected. Imagine a world where women and girls could have equal access to leadership positions in any sector. Imagine a world where women and girls live fearlessly. Imagine a world where women and girls are no longer the prisoners of any culture. Imagine a life where no one tells any woman and girl that they can’t do something, or they are not good enough for something. That’s the world I want to live in.” Nugrahanti, 2020.
When we talk about poverty eradication, it also means inclusion and equality. As my host organization, CARE, believes that poverty can’t be defeated unless everyone has equal rights and opportunities, hence women and girls must be the focus. Most of the time, poverty affects women’s and girls’ rights, for example, one of the violations of women’s rights in many communities is the forced marriage. The main reason for this is the need to improve resources for their families. When the communities are struggling with poverty, marriage is seen as an economic proposition. Therefore, empowering women and girls could be beneficial for everyone in their families.
Poverty elimination is the goal of every nation. The government national budget will reflect their social and economic plans to address this issue. The budget is the implementer of government policies. There will be no development if the government has a great policy but does not have enough money to implement it. For that reason, the national budget should be constructed properly with a clear explanation about the resources, the beneficiary, and the activities which tied to the main goal of the budget. By designing a gender-sensitive budget, the government will be more inclusive and focus on marginalized groups. Gender-responsive budget can be used as a tool to examine the impact of the government policies on gender equality because it helps the government to allocate their resources efficiently into closing gender gaps. It does not mean allocating half and half budget to men and women, but to make in-depth analysis in expenditures and revenues policies based on the forecast of what men and women needs (from different social groups), their contributions, and their interests, for example, women might need reproductive health care more than men, men and women might have different employment situation, and others. This strategic analysis will help to determine whether the budget available is enough to respond to their specific needs, provide specific services and implement activities designed for each targeted group. Not only GRB can be used to improve incomes and resources, but also to enhance transparency and accountability of the national budget.
According to UN Women gender-responsive budget manual publication, these are important steps on doing GRB:
Many countries have implemented GRB, some of them are Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Austria, and France. In Indonesia, GRB is started in 2008 at the central government level. Then, that framework of GRB was tried at the subnational government level which was led by the Ministry of Women Empowerment. Since 2012, the Ministry of Finance in Indonesia regulated that the ministries must submit their gender-responsive budget to the Ministry of Finance, the National Planning Commission, and the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. In 2018, Indonesia received a visit from the Afghanistan Office of the President, with support from UN Women and UNDP to share their best practice experiences in GRB implementation. Nabila Musleh, one of the participants in that visit shared about what she learned from Indonesia “There are so many lessons that can be replicated in our country! One of them is that we should not focus on the central level alone, but also expand the gender-responsive budgeting initiatives to the local levels so that local governments can address the needs of everyone in the rural areas. We must also create platforms and mechanisms through which we can engage people at the grassroots level, civil society, and other community groups, for better results.”
I believe each country has its challenges in implementing GRB, but GRB is a pivotal instrument to develop gender equality policies and monitor the impacts. The public participation in gathering data for GRB will increase transparency and inclusion. It is also important that the government involves political leaders, budget experts, and economic researchers, local civil society organizations in the process. GRB is an approach in a nation’s commitment towards UN Women’s strategic plans 2018-2021, which is not leaving any woman or girl behind. Imagine a world where women’s and girls’ rights are equally respected, valued and protected. Imagine a world where women and girls could have equal access to leadership positions in any sector. Imagine a world where women and girls live fearlessly. Imagine a world where women and girls are no longer the prisoners of any culture. Imagine a life where no one tells any woman and girl that they can’t do something, or they are not good enough for something. That’s the world I want to live in.