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Gender responsive budgeting casebook launched

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Women's Budget Group, WBG, Women Count,Policy makers often do not take women’s needs into account, leading to policies that don’t work for women.

Women throughout the world –  still – face inequality throughout their lives. Social expectations about gender roles effect the roles and opportunities for both women and men.

These differences mean that policies impact differently on women and men.

For example women are more likely to have responsibility for unpaid work, like care work and domestic work. This means they have less time for other activities, including paid work.

This, combined with the undervaluing of work traditionally done by women and discrimination in the workplace means that women typically earn less than men, have lower incomes over a lifetime and are more likely to be poor in old age.

This in turn means that women are less likely than men to benefit from tax cuts, and more likely to need social security. It also means they are more likely to benefit from public services that reduce the amount of unpaid work they need to do, and therefore women are hit harder when these services are cut.

Income isn’t always shared equally within households, so women and girls may not benefit as much as men if household income goes up. And policies that focus on improving household income may not benefit women as much as policies which focus on women’s individual incomes.

But women remain underrepresented in public life, so policy makers often do not take women’s needs into account. And this can lead to policies that don’t work for women.

One way to challenge this is with Gender Responsive Budgeting.

Gender Responsive Budgeting means thinking about what impact spending and revenue raising decisions will have on gender equalities and then to the adoption of policies that will bring about greater equality between women and men.

At its best Gender Responsive Budgeting is a tool for bringing about change. This means not just analysing policy, but changing it.

For that to happen women’s organisations and other civil society organisations need to be able to hold governments to account, and keep up the pressure to make change happen.

The Women’s Budget Group has been working to promote Gender Responsive Budgeting and feminist analysis of economic policy since 1989 and its staff are often asked how they do what they do by organisations in other countries wanting to do something similar.

And so they have produced ‘Women Count’, a resource for anyone who wants to work on Gender Responsive Budgeting.

This is a casebook is based on experiences of the Women’s Budget Group, which analyses the gender impact of budgets.

It aims to:

Promote the benefits of gender responsive budgeting to government and other policy-makers;

Carry out gender analysis of economic policies to highlight their impact on gender equalities; and

Build the capacity of other women’s organisations to carry out or use this analysis in their work.

The Women’s Budget Group is an independent network of academics, activists and representatives from women’s organisations and trade unions, and was founded in 1989.

This casebook has been written from the perspective of a non-government organisation and the hope is that it will be particularly useful for civil society organisations or networks – although many of the lessons the Women’s Budget Group learned will also be applicable to local or national governments too.

Is presents information on different aspects of gender responsive budgeting, case studies which highlight the lessons that can be learnt from our experiences in the UK, links to on-line resources and a glossary explaining specific terms.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to gender responsive budgeting. The aim with Women Count is to share the Women’s Budget Group’s experiences, the challenges they have faced and how they have tried to overcome them.

It is available as a PDF and on this dedicated website.

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