Gender Responsive Budgeting as Smart Economics: A Comparative Analysis between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Macedonia

By Avdagic, Merima; Hujic, Faruk | Journal of Economic and Social Studies, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Gender Responsive Budgeting as Smart Economics: A Comparative Analysis between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Macedonia


Avdagic, Merima, Hujic, Faruk, Journal of Economic and Social Studies


Introduction and Context

"Forget China, India and the internet: Economic growth is driven by women" (Anonymous, 2006, p.3). When it comes to acknowledging the importance of gender equality and the significant role it plays within economic development, there is quite a consensus at the official level. Gender equality plays a crucial part in stimulating growth, generating employment, and contributing to capital generation and poverty alleviation. In order to integrate gender perspective in the policy, gender mainstreaming is applied. The Council of Europe defined gender mainstreaming as "the (re)organization, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy- making" (Quinn & Council of Europe, 2009, p.3). Thus, this is a preventive approach, with an objective of strengthening equality between men and women. In societies where significant gender gaps exist, disparities persist in men's and women's access to and control of human, economic, and social assets, and gender based inequality limits economic growth and diminishes the effectiveness of poverty reduction efforts. Namely, many development strategies rely on, among other things, raising household and individual income. "To achieve the economic expansion we all seek, we need to unlock a vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come... By increasing women's participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can have a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies," said the United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton (2011) at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (p.l).

However, to achieve gender equality, gender mainstreaming is not enough as practice often demonstrated. Degraef (2002) found that in spite of the clear commitment on the application of gender equality to all policy areas and programs, policy fields that relate to finance, capital markets and technical fields are still predominantly male occupied. Nevertheless, the acceptance of gender notion within the economy heavily picked up over the past decade. Recently, Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron (2012) promoted the increase of the number of women in roles of responsibility in industry by saying that "It's about quality, not just equality...if we fail to unlock the potential of women in the labor market through equal access to resources, we're not only failing those individuals, we're failing our whole economy" (p.2).

Therefore, in order to bridge the concepts of gender equality and budget, and introduce women as both contributors and users of public budgets, the notion of GRB was introduced as a way to close the gap between gender responsive policy making introduced through gender mainstreaming and budget planning and allocation processes. The integration of gender perspective into public policies implies that it requires financial resources, which in fact is GRB concept. Thus, GRB requires a more transparent, effective and targeted use of public resources -i.e. being responsible for outputs achieved with public resources, without which, the gender mainstreaming could remain only a tool expressed on the paper.

Research objective

Although principles of gender equality and GRB are quite universal declaratively, practice demonstrated different approaches in South Eastern Europe (SEE) region. This paper explores two different frameworks for inclusion of GRB through a comparative case study analysis of BiH and Macedonia. Specifically, BiH introduced GRB through overall PFM reform within the realm of program based budgeting, while Macedonia introduced GRB through specific program analysis (policy and budget analysis) and interventions without an overall integration with budgetary system and performance budgeting as a baseline concept. …

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