Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mainstreaming gender into the EU budget and macroeconomic policy framework

The EU’s budget can be a powerful force for growth and development. Investment programmes such as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have helped transform less-developed regions and reduced inequality across the EU.
Yet when it comes to reducing inequalities between women and men, the EU’s budget falls short. This report shows that less than 1% of the 2014-2020 ESIF budget has been earmarked for gender equality measures.
This is despite a strong body evidence confirming that more gender-equal societies are a foundation for economic growth.  Indeed, narrowing the gender gap in the EU could result in an extra 10 million jobs and an increase of up to €3.15 trillion in GDP by 2050.
Gender budgeting is a strategy to achieve gender equality through allocating public resources in a way that addresses the specific needs of women and men. For example, gender budgeting recognises women’s unpaid care work and distributes resources accordingly. It is both efficient and effective budgeting.
Making gender equality a reality requires dedicated and consistent funding. Yet current proposals for the post-2020 EU budget show a low level of ambition when it comes to realising gender equality through economic action. Gender equality is treated as an overarching principle without clearly defined objectives that contribute to closing gender gaps and are based on gender-sensitive targets.

This is despite  the fact that a number of EU policies highlight the importance of mainstreaming gender into the Union’s budget, including the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality, which requires that gender equality be taken into account when reviewing EU funds as well as Member State budgets. 
This report outlines concrete actions the EU institutions and Member States can take to help live up to the values and principles of the EU  through improved gender budgeting. It proposes recommendations for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the annual budgetary cycle, the European Semester, and the ESIF. Recommendations include the setting of gender equality as a horizontal priority for the entire MFF; embedding gender equality as a distinct policy objective and institutionalising gender mainstreaming methods in all funds; the setting of budgetary targets for gender equality; and the introduction of a system to track funding for gender equality in all funding programmes.
Gender equality is a fundamental value of the European Union and its advancement coded into the EU’s legislative framework. The EU’s investment programmes are the most direct way for EU resources to reach those who need them and to impact individual lives and wellbeing. Ensuring that women and men benefit equally can help finally close the gender gap and boost the economy.  We would all stand to benefit from that.

Virginija Langbakk Director The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)


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