Gender Responsive Budgeting and the Aid Effectiveness Agenda: Experiences from Mozambique

By Holvoet, Nathalie; Inberg, Liesbeth | Journal of International Women's Studies, July 2014 | Go to article overview

Gender Responsive Budgeting and the Aid Effectiveness Agenda: Experiences from Mozambique


Holvoet, Nathalie, Inberg, Liesbeth, Journal of International Women's Studies


Introduction

With the goal of increasing aid effectiveness, developing countries, bilateral and multilateral donors signed the Paris Declaration during the 2nd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2005 (OECD/DAC, 2005). They reconfirmed their engagement in the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008 (High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness-3, 2008) (3) and the 2011 Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness-4, 2011) (4) The Paris Declaration sets out a reform agenda centred on the key principles of ownership, alignment, harmonisation, mutual accountability and management for development results. Coordination and harmonisation among donors and their alignment with the policies and institutional apparatus of developing countries are thought to generate significant improvements in aid processes, ultimately increasing development effectiveness on the ground. This process involves shifting the role of donors from controlling the content and processes of clearly defined projects and programmes towards influencing broader policies and systems at the sector and national levels. Aid modalities that are consistent with this shift in aid thinking and practice include general budget support, sector budget support, sector-wide approaches and basket funding.

One dimension that has largely been neglected in both the Paris Declaration and aid effectiveness discussions in general involves gender equality and the empowerment of women. While the large majority of donors and recipients are committed to these objectives, the Paris Declaration mentions gender equality only briefly, in the section on harmonisation (OECD/DAC, 2005). The Accra Agenda for Action partly corrects for this (5), largely as a result of the mobilisation efforts of gender and women's machineries and networks, both within the OECD/DAC (i.e. GENDERNET) and among bilateral and multilateral donors (e.g. UNIFEM (6)) and civil society (e.g. WIDE). From the 2011 progress report onwards, donors and recipient countries are asked to report (voluntarily) on three gender equality indicators (7) (OECD/DAC, 2011). Additionally, among ten indicators for monitoring the 2013 Busan Partnership agreement, one gender indicator is included, i.e. "% of countries with systems that track and make public allocations for gender equality and women's empowerment" (Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, 2013) (8). Interestingly this indicator hints at the importance of gender responsive budgeting (GRB), an approach that is considered to offer considerable potential for increasing the gender sensitivity of aid modalities that are used in the context of the changing aid architecture (UNIFEM, 2006; 2010). Gender responsive budgeting refers to the analysis of the differential impact of government budgets on women and men, as well as to the systematic integration of a gender perspective throughout the budget cycle, with the ultimate goal of enhancing objectives in the area of gender equality and the empowerment of women (Council of Europe, 2005). Thus far, however, few studies have explicitly demonstrated its value added in this context.

Our case study of Mozambique aims to fill the gap by confronting discourse with reality from the field. Its focus includes both national actors and aid agencies and explores whether GRB initiatives have increased the gender sensitivity of key national and donor instruments and processes within the context of changing aid modalities. It also studies the underlying mechanisms that might explain the benefits of GRB. Unravelling why GRB is valuable can also facilitate the identification of potentially interesting entry points that have so far remained underexploited, both inside and outside government. Opening up the black box of GRB feeds into GRB theory building and makes our findings also interesting beyond the context of Mozambique. Before focusing on the case of GRB in Mozambique we provide a short overview of the methodology used, we briefly introduce the case of Mozambique as well as the topic of GRB and the relationship among gender equality and the changing aid architecture. …

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