Parliamentary Action Points
This includes pre-budget consultations to hear the perspectives of citizens prior to receiving the budget from the Minister of Finance. Such pre-budget consultations can be conducted through a budget or finance committee that will be the primary or main committee to review the draft budget prior to adoption by the House. But, it could also include broader consultations from all sectoral committees as well. Explore new technology as outlined in the above point to engage citizens in “real time” as the budget is debated in the parliament.
The course explains the ways in which parliamentarians and citizens can participate in the budget process. It demonstrates how the executive can create opportunities for the parliament and citizens to become genuinely engaged in budget planning and implementation. The course outlines the tools parliamentarians and citizens can use to participate in the budget process and how the executive can invite their input at multiple points from allocation to implementation and evaluation.
Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff need the right tools with which to analyse the budget allocated to energy and climate change from a gender perspective. In South Africa, the publication Money Matters: Women and the Government Budget was lauded as a popular tool reaching a large audience. A publication by the Rwandan Ministry of Finance, Gender Budgeting Guidelines, which was also well received, provides guidance to budgeting agencies and stakeholders alike.
Austria’s federal ministries have been obliged to carry out gender budgeting since the revision of the constitution in 2009. Since then, an in-house seminar on gender budgeting has been delivered 19 times to a total of 350 participants involved in the budget process at the federal level, including in ministries, the Austrian Parliament, the court of auditors, and external experts. The 4-hour training covers four steps to achieve gender equality outcomes throughout the budget process: analysis of any gender-specific issues and inequalities in the field of work of the participant; definition of gender equality outcomes, outputs and indicators; implementation of measures, programs and projects; and evaluation of the results and progress in achieving gender equality outcomes.
South Africa’s Women’s Budget Initiative was launched in collaboration with Members of Parliament (the Joint Standing Committee on Finance and the Joint Committee on the Quality and Status of Life of Women) and civil society organisations including the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) and the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE). The initiative was facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretariat. As a result, a “Women’s Budget” was prepared between 1996 and 2000.
The partnership with an international and civil society organisations had a range of benefits. For example, it spurred the collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated data and where the latter was not available, the process exposed the weaknesses in the existing information systems.
Civil society inputs allowed the group to better assess and include the needs of gender-specific groups.
- Greater debate on the notion that all policies and programmes are ‘gender-neutral’;
- Given the participatory nature of the process, this was an opportunity for Government officials to receive a form of gender training that is easy to apply;
- Analysis of the presence of equal opportunities in the public service; and
- Methodology can be used to address other forms of social need and disadvantage (e.g. race).
Parliament can commission gender audits by working either with the relevant audit institution as well as independent researchers. Such audits can identify gender gaps in design, implementation and oversight. See the part on Supreme Audit Institutions and gender audits in the Area of Expertise for more information.
A comprehensive gender audit of energy policies, programs and budget was carried out in 2007 as a collaborative activity under the “Turning Information into Empowerment: Strengthening Gender and Energy Networking in Africa” project, which brought together the ministries of energy, local think tanks and civil society organisations in Botswana, Senegal and Kenya.
The audit exercise in each country aimed at identifying gender gaps in energy policies and making gender and energy issues visible to a wider audience. It was envisaged that such action would support national and international networking as well as advocacy initiatives to influence energy policies and programmes. The audits included training of the team members as well as stakeholders who participated in the exercise.
Such training contributed to building capacity of women and men in ways that could enable them to acquire skills and information on how to advise legislators and policy planners towards making gender responsive policies and programmes.
In India, the Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) undertook a gender audit of national energy policies, looking specifically at the programmes of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The specific objectives of the gender audit were to identify and assess gender gaps in energy policies and programmes, and the mismatch between commitments and implementation. The auditors worked with stakeholders to formulate strategies and actions that could address these gaps at the national level. The outcomes aimed to make gender and energy issues visible to wide audiences.
Gender-sensitive budget circulars
Some countries have introduced gender at an early stage in the budget process through amendments to the budget call circular that the Ministry of Finance issues to all ministries (agencies) each year asking them to submit their budget proposals (UNDP GBR publication). Gender-sensitive budget circulars issued by the Ministry of Finance to agencies and departments are important for aligning budgetary decision-making with policies.
Invite gender experts to public hearings
Budget committees can invite experts on gender-responsive budgeting to provide an analysis of the proposed budget, as well as present findings and recommendations. In the German Bundestag, the budget committee holds public hearings in which economists, trade associations, labour unions, employer federations, and civil service employee associations, among others, can submit testimonies on a given issue. In South Africa, the parliament is required to hold public hearings on the fiscal framework and revenue proposals. All interested stakeholders can make oral presentations during such hearings.