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Helpdesk Research Report: Increasing financial investment in women and girls through gender responsive budgeting

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Increasing financial investment in women and girls through gender responsive budgeting: How successful has Gender Responsive Budgeting been in increasing financial investment in girls and women, and in gender equality? Identify literature on: what approaches have worked and why; criticisms of GRB; and alternative approaches to increasing financial investment in women and girls.

Helpdesk response

Key findings: Overall, evidence indicates that it is difficult to attribute financial change to GRB initiatives. There are a limited range of impacts attributed to GRB, however less specific details provided on why initiatives have been successful. Drawing from the literature that is available, some of the identified successes, and factors contributing to their success, include:

  • South Africa: The South African Women’s Budget Initiative (SWABI) secured changes in policy and budget allocations, including the introduction of a child support grant that is paid to primary caregivers (typically women) and a zero rate of VAT on paraffin, which is a key household purchase for poor women. A key factor contributing to SWABI’s success was the wide support it received from civil society, government and international agencies.
  • Mexico: The Mexican GRB was able to secure a 40 per cent increase in budgetary allocations to reproductive health, as well as additional funding for programmes that target maternal mortality, immigrant women, and women in agriculture.
  • Tanzania: An institutionalised gender analysis in Tanzania secured a 3 per cent increase in budget allocations to the Ministry of Water for infrastructure projects that typically benefit women.
  • Kerala: A GRB with the Indian state of Kerala provided tangible increases in the allocation of budgets to sectors that typically neglect gender issues, including infrastructure and transport. Funding provided gender friendly infrastructure in transport depots and low-cost housing for low paid workers (who are typically women).

Enabling factors identified in the literature more broadly include: securing political support; improving awareness and capacity building; developing sound analysis and accountability; securing civil society involvement; having strong institutional mechanisms; building donor partnerships; and having consistent follow-up, monitoring and evaluation of results.

Much of the criticism of GRB stems from the obstacles initiatives encounter in implementation. Some of the obstacles identified as hampering the ability of GRBs to deliver greater financial investment in women and girls and gender equality include: Limited capacity and resources; High staff turnover and lack of institutional knowledge; Weaknesses in monitoring and evaluations; and county context factors such as political instability, elections or limited civil society capacity.