Gender budgeting initiatives have spread into many countries over the past 10 years.
The initiative started in Australia and has been implemented in many countries, but there are still some challenges with implementation.
Gender budgeting refers to the crafting of budgets that respond to the different, specific needs of men and women.
Many initiatives around the world have made capacity building a key strategy in achieving gender-responsive budgeting.
The government has been called upon to come up with budgets that are gender sensitive as these would go a long way in addressing historical imbalances that have seen women lagging behind in terms of development.
Woman Affairs Gender and Community Development minister Olivia Muchena said women have not enjoyed the same rights and equal access to key resources and opportunities such as education, land, credit and decision-making.
“This exercise focuses on auditing government budgets for their impact on women and girls,” said Muchena.
This means that to date the term “women’s budget” has gained widest use. Recently however these budget exercises have begun using gender as a category of analysis so terminology “gender-sensitive budgets” is increasingly being adopted.
“Budgeting can reinforce existing inequalities and perpetuate poverty by not taking into account the different roles and needs of the groups of women and men,” Muchena said.
She said it is important to recognise that “women’s budgets” or “gender-sensitive budgets” are not separate budgets for women, or for men.
They are attempts to break down, or disaggregate the government’s mainstream Budget according to its impact on women and men, and different groups of women and men, with cognisance being given to the society’s underpinning gender relations.
There are issues that deserve special attention in budgeting allocation such as reproductive issues and specific scholarship funds for girls in identified disciplines of study such as science and engineering.
Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network executive director Naome Chimbetete said the launch of the two projects reaffirms the country’s long-standing commitment to gender equality through gender budgeting among other interventions.
“Gender budgeting is a greater mainstream tool that is used to ensure that government policies, programmes and Budgets address the needs and interest of women, men, boys and girls without looking at biases that arise from resources allocations,” said Chimbetete.
Gender does not refer to women only but to the socio-cultural perceptions and differentiation of roles, attributes and responsibilities of women and men. Gender arises when once old attitudes persist in situations where they are no longer valid.
The consequence can be gender possession where one sex dominates the other unjustly or even cruelly whether deliberately or not.
Gender gaps appear where one sex is discriminated against on the basis of religious biases, social assumptions, myths or taboos, to such an extent that it is prevented from getting a fair share of resources or services.
Women in Zimbabwe have not exercised their rights in terms of gender budgeting although the law had always specifically guaranteed it.
It is hoped that with the new development, women would be empowered to participate more in national budgeting.
There is, however, need to provide information on the institutional mechanisms that address gender inequality.
Gender budgeting calls for an effective monitoring of budgeting outcomes for ensuring targetsgroups are participating and benefiting.
The budget presents the expected revenue and planned expenditure for a given period of time as well as budgets or deficits. Most budgets are presented in a gender-neutral manner, they do not pay attention to different needs and roles of women and men.
Gender budgeting addresses revenues as well as expenditures while gender budgeting often focuses on budgets for implementing particular programmes, projects and schemes.