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Gender budgeting should be the cornerstone of the budget process

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today appeared before the Budgetary Oversight Committee, to provide an assessment on the Equality Budgeting piloting initiative led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DEPR).

Eilís Ní Chaithnía, Policy Coordinator with NWCI said,
“The budget is the principal expression of a Government’s priorities and is a critical opportunity to advance women’s equality. NWCI has campaigned for many years for the introduction of gender budgeting and we welcome the opportunity to today provide an assessment of the Equality Budgeting piloting Initiative, led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DEPR) and undertaken by six other government departments. Gender budgeting should be a cornerstone of the budgetary process as it is in several countries across Europe and beyond. Today NWCI commended the progress made so far in rolling our equality budgeting and departments’ commitment to begin analysing how budgetary measures can result in greater equality between women and men.”

Eilís Ní Chaithnía continued,
“The pilot initative put in place by DEPR involves six departments setting high level equality goals in the Revised Estimates  Volume. While some of the equality goals set by departments are ambitious, others are much narrower."

"It is important to ensure departments participating in the pilot initiative have the opportunity to scope out how best to utilise the new tools made available to them and how to concretely apply them."

"However, gender budgeting goals need to be ambitious. To ensure an ambitious process of change, it will be important to maintain an open process that allows for input and influence from outside government administration. Close monitoring and critical reflection is essential to the effective implementation of gender budgeting.  This should include Ministerial and parliamentary oversight.  DEPR is also expected to establish a Steering Group on equality budgeting to assist in shaping the longer-term roll out of equality budgeting, and this is to be welcomed. NWCI will sit on this Steering Group.”

 “Departments have also identified how their performance in achieving their equality goals will be assessed.  Crucially, for gender budgeting to be effective, the quality of data indicators and analysis will be critical. This will require gender expertise, in addition to existing economic and budgetary expertise, a specialised body of knowledge which is currently lacking within most departments. In the first instance, NWCI recommends that the newly established Parliamentary Budget Office could recruit in gender expertise to provide for adequate analysis and develop guidelines for implementation.”

Eilís Ní Chaithnía concluded,
“The process of gender responsive Budgeting has the potential to improve accountability, efficiency and effectiveness and, it includes a requirement to focus on a continuous process of improvement. NWCI looks forward to working with Government and the Budget Oversight Committee to ensure better outcomes for the women, the economy and society through gender budgeting.”

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