Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mainstreaming gender into the EU budget and macroeconomic policy framework 2

Since its inception, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has worked to increase knowledge, provide tools and encourage mutual learning on gender mainstreaming in policies implemented by the European Union (EU) and by individual Member States.11 Gender budgeting (GB) is one of the most important tools for mainstreaming gender equality perspectives in decision-making and budgeting processes, as well as for assessing how budgetary and fiscal policies can enhance gender equality outcomes at EU and Member State levels.

This report focuses on gender budgeting as a gender mainstreaming tool to promote gender-responsive macroeconomic policies and budgetary processes in the EU. Macroeconomic policies often fail to take account of gender differences and their impact on gender inequality; they tend to focus on economic growth, while largely neglecting the benefits that the redistribution of resources and investments in services such as childcare and eldercare may bring to gender equality or to reducing poverty. Macroeconomic policies do not consider the impact of women’s unpaid care work nor do they record it in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) accounts. In the EU, it is estimated that the value of unpaid domestic work and unpaid family care work taken together ranges between 27.1 % and 37 % of EU GDP.12 Despite these gaps, there is substantial evidence to show that more gender-equal societies are a foundation for economic growth.13

The report draws on the initial mapping of gender budgeting initiatives and budgeting processes at EU and EU Member State levels carried out by EIGE in 2016. The mapping exercise examined the full range of options available for mainstreaming gender budgeting elements into existing processes and policies to ensure improved efficiency and effectiveness of economic and social policies.14 In 2017 and 2018, in order to promote and enhance gender mainstreaming and the use of gender budgeting in the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), EIGE conducted research intended to contribute to a more effective and sustainable design and implementation of gender budgeting as a tool for gender mainstreaming in the ESIF.

Based on the assessment of the implementation of gender budgeting in the EU’s budgetary processes (including the ESIF), the report links EU macroeconomic policy and the achievement of gender equality through gender budgeting.
In recent years, gender budgeting has received greater attention as a tool for gender-responsive macroeconomic policy-making. Across the EU, several Member States have been involved in a range of gender budgeting initiatives at national, regional and local level.15 Despite renewed calls and continuous international commitments to introduce gender mainstreaming in policy-making and budgeting at EU and Member State levels,16 progress to date has been limited.
EIGE’s assessment of the implementation of gender budgeting shows that until 2012, eight EU Member States had a legal obligation to implement gender budgeting or gender impact assessments of ministerial budgets (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Finland).17 The fact that not all EU Member States implement gender budgeting indicates further room to improve gender mainstreaming in economic policy and budgetary areas, which would also support the use of these tools in the implementation of ESIF in Member States.

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