IMF Workshop on Gender Budgeting in South-Eastern Europe

March 13, 2018

From left to right: Ms. Maja Bosnic (SIDA), Mr. Johann Seiwald (IMF), Ms. Carolina Renteria (IMF), Ms. Ermira Lubani (UN Women)

February 20-22, 2018, JVI hosted the first workshop on Gender Budgeting in South-Eastern Europe, organized by the IMF. 

Ms. Carolina Renteria, Division Chief, and Mr. Johann Seiwald, Senior Economist, both from IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, presented IMF perspectives and advice on an integrated approach to gender-responsive public financial management.

The audience represented 11 countries from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Slovak Republic, and Austria. Participants were primarily from ministries of finance and agencies responsible for gender policy.

There has been a growing number of research on gender equality, including at the IMF.[1] Promoting gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) is a new priority for the IMF. The goal is for governments to commit to weighing the benefits and costs of policies that would promote gender equality and incorporating measures in the budget that respond to such evaluation. GRB refers to tax or spending policies that are related to a country’s gender objectives, and the public financial management (PFM) practices that allow these policies to be operationalized efficiently and effectively. It is aimed at responding to the needs of both women and men: the goal is to integrate gender perspectives into fiscal policy.

In 2017, at the request of the Italian Presidency of the G7, the IMF prepared a paper on GRB as a contribution to the G7 initiative on equality. The paper provided an overview GRB concepts and practices in the G7 and some non-G7 countries. The survey showed that there had been considerable amount of effort in fiscal policies, but there was still room for improvement in making public financial management more gender-responsive. Ultimately the work resulted in a new IMF methodology for GRB.

Ms Ermira Lubani, the regional manager at UN Women, put the focus of her presentation on Sustainable Development Goas (SDGs) specifically on SDG 5 and SDG 5.C.1. She highlighted that GRB can be used as a strategy for implementation of SDGs, which could ensure coherence between national planning, costing, and budgeting processes and gender equality commitments. This approach would enable Member States and key stakeholders to track progress on gender equality in a more systematic way, while at the same time enabling continued support for gender advocates to demand accountability as the implementation advances.

Among presenters was also Ms. Maja Bosnic, the Team Leader of Gender Budgeting Project in Ukraine which is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

The three-day workshop covered such topics as the institutional framework for GRB, budget preparation, and budget execution. Participants also benefited from learning more about Austria’s experience, where GRB was implemented in 2013.

Each session was complemented by participant presentations about GRB initiatives in their countries. The ensuing lively discussions offered an excellent opportunity for peer-to-peer learning.  The discussions made clear both the growing number of GRB initiatives in the region and the need for implementation tools.

Participants praised the interactive nature of the workshops and the opportunity to establish contacts and learn about the GRB experience of peer countries. The discussions showed a broad consensus about the key role of fiscal policy in helping achieve better gender outcomes—and also how much has still to be done.

Asel Isakova, Economist, JVI

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