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Making Women Count in Budget 2017

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017

In the lead-up to Budget 2018, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today launched a report which sets out for government how it can follow through on its commitments to tackle inequality with national finances. 

At an important seminar ‘Towards Gender Responsive Budgeting in Ireland’, NWCI presented a model for how gender budgeting can be rolled out in Ireland, based on best practice from other European countries and further afield.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“The Budget is the principal expression of a government’s priorities and a critical opportunity to advance equality. Each budget day, we all look to see if we’re going to have a little extra in our pockets for the coming year, through social welfare increases, tax cuts or investment in public services we all rely on. Yet it’s not clear to the majority of people how budget decisions are made and who is benefitting most from those decisions. Gender budgeting involves assessing budget policies to see who is benefitting and providing government with the evidence to make the best decisions possible.”

“Taking gender into account has been proven to be good for the economy, and good for society, by improving accountability, efficiency and effectiveness. The Programme for a Partnership Government made a commitment to gender and equality proof the budget. In doing so it will join a growing number of countries across the globe that have reaped the benefits of gender budgeting, such as Australia, Austria, Scotland, and Canada.”

Elisabeth Klatzer, leading expert on gender budgeting from Austria and lecturer at the United Nations University Gender Equality and Studies Programme said,
“Gender responsive budgeting is simply providing for better budgeting, as it can bring about a more focused attention on the impacts of policies and budgets on women and men in their diversity and a requirement to focus on a continuous process of improvement. It is a must for any government that claims to implement performance budgeting. The Austrian experience shows that it works well if it is systematically integrated throughout the budget process as a requirement, and if there is a strong civil society who continuously engage in the process.”

Angela O’Hagan, Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, member of the Equality Budgeting Advisory Group of the Scottish Government and convenor of the Scottish Women's Budget Group said,
“Gender Budgeting is good budgeting by making sure public resources are used to eliminate existing inequalities, and progress is the key focus of equality analysis in the budget.  The budget is the principal expression of a government’s priorities and advancing equality should be a central political goal and priority.”

“Scotland publishes alongside its draft budget every year an Equality Statement which sets out how budget decisions have and will impact equality. This provides government departments with a blueprint to tackle inequality, parliamentarians with greater clarity in its oversight function and civil society with specific objectives to monitor. NWCI’s report recommends that the Irish government follow suit by publishing a Gender Equality Statement on or before budget day.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,
“Although it may sound like a complex process, gender budgeting simply involves having a long term vision, and a strong evidence base for making decisions, while remaining focused on how those decisions impact on the everyday lives of women and men.”

The event also saw the launch of the recently published special edition of the Administration Journal on how policy and budget proofing can advance human rights and equality in Ireland.

Speakers at the event included:
• Camille Loftus, socio-economic researcher and consultant
• Angela O’Hagan, Senior Lecturer at Glasgow University and member of the Scottish Equality Budgeting Advisory Group
• Elisabeth Klatzer, a leading expert on gender budgeting who has worked on training programs in different parts of the world and is a lecturer at UNU-GEST in the module on practical tools for gender sensitive projects.
• Sarah Swaine, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
• Laurence Bond, Director, IHREC
• Mary Murphy, Commission Member, IHREC
• Orla O'Connor, Director, NWCI

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For more information, or to arrange an interview with the speakers, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087.

You can view the research "Toward Gender Responsive Budgeting in Ireland" here.