Gender Budgeting: What can it mean for Wales? | Gender Mainstreaming

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Wales is unique among the UK regions. Section 120 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 obligates the government of Wales to exercise its functions 'with due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people.' This covers all the equality strands, including gender. In its 2004 Report on Mainstreaming Equality in the work of the National Assembly the Equality of Opportunity Committee, chaired by Gwenda Thomas, recommended that 'the Assembly Government pilots gender budgeting in a policy area to assess the level of equity in financial allocations, with a view to expanding its use across the Assembly.' (recommendation 20). What does this mean for Wales?
  GENDER BUDGETING: WHAT CAN IT MEAN FOR WALES? Wales is unique among the UK regions. Section 120 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 obligates the government of Wales to exercise its functions ‘with due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people.’ This covers all the equality strands, including gender. In its 2004  Report on Mainstreaming Equality in the work of the National Assembly the Equality of Opportunity Committee, chaired by Gwenda Thomas, recommended that ‘the Assembly Government pilots gender budgeting in a policy area to assess the level of equity in financial allocations, with a view to expanding its use across the Assembly.’ (recommendation 20). What does this mean for Wales? Gender mainstreaming is now an accepted part of the EU and UK way of organising, developing, evaluating and improving policy processes so that gender equality  perspectives are incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages by all actors normally involved in policy-making. Proving gender mainstreaming is becoming of increasing significance if any monies are obtained from the EU. The impetus for change is certainly in part coming from the EU and probably accounts for one of the reasons the equality bill currently before Parliament includes a public sector duty to  promote equality of opportunity for women from next year. The public sector duty on gender will give public authorities a mandate to positively  promote opportunities for women, including the recruitment, retention, promotion and other procedures in relation to staff, as well as the service delivery areas. In order to fulfil the public sector duty on gender it is necessary to know which policies reduce or increase inequalities. As with other positive duties (race and disability), sanctions flow from non-compliance. Litigation is a possibility, as well as an investigation by the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights once it has been set up towards the end of 2007. As a way of minimising any possible legal sanctions, public authorities are taking a look at what they can do in preparation of fulfilling the gender duty. One way of satisfying the obligation to monitor progress towards achieving equality of opportunity is to undertake a gender audit. A gender audit can take various forms, including gender budgeting. This is a process  by which the allocation of public funds is assessed to see whether and to what extent the different types of needs of women, men, girls and boys are part of the financial decision making process of policy makers. In other words, a gender budget is not a separate budget for women; instead it is an approach which can be used to highlight the gap between policy statements and the resources committed to their implementation, ensuring that public money is spent in more gender equitable ways. The issue is not whether we are spending the same on women and men, but whether the spending is adequate to women and men, boys and girls's needs. But this is not the only reason many governments around the world are using it. Gender budget analysis can improve the effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and transparency of government policy. By strengthening the collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data and enhancing the ability to determine the real value of resources targeted towards women and men, gender budget initiatives can provide a   better understanding of how resources are being spent and increase the efficiency of  policy. In addition, the commitment to higher levels of participation has led to greater consultation, transparency, accountability and openness in all aspects of government, and this includes the planning of budgets and their scrutiny. Commitment to higher levels of participation, especially in Wales, provides a window of opportunity for the Welsh Assembly to fulfil its equality commitments by using gender budgeting. This includes cutting across equality strands. For example, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. In crude terms, gender budgeting provides value for money. Value for money is one of the reasons gender budgeting (or gender sensitive  budgeting or gender responsive budgeting) is used by over 60 countries in the world. It is fast becoming ‘the new black’ in equality speak just as gender mainstreaming once was. You do not have to travel far to see it in action. The Scottish Executive has actively promoted and used the process of equality proofing its budget since 2000 and is currently working with Equality Proofing Budgets and Policy Advisory Group. This Group includes representatives from equality organisations and Scottish Executive officials and develops tools for gender analysis of the budget. It has undertaken two  pilots - starting with the issues of smoking cessation and prevention and sport with specific reference to young people in Scotland. The work has focused on whether there are gender differences in response to initiatives in both these areas and on making connections that underline the cross-cutting nature of inequality. In addition, the pilot work will track the process of policy formulation and resource allocation with respect to these two initiatives. On a UK level, the Treasury and the UK Women's Budget Group (WBG), which  brings together researchers, representatives from the Trade Union movement, and different non-governmental organisations are discussing ways of using gender  budgeting. HM Treasury made a commitment to the use of the gender budgeting approach mainly in relation to taxation and benefits. The role of the WBG in this  process is it to reveal how apparently gender neutral models and policy-making tools may have an implicit gender bias. For example, a gender budget analysis of new Deal  programmes in the UK revealed that only 8% of funding for these programmes is allocated to lone parents, of whom 95% are female. Yet 57% of funds go to young  people, of whom only 27% are female. In spring 2003, the WBG and HM Treasury, in conjunction with the Women and Equality Unit, launched a pilot Gender Analysis of Expenditure Project (GAP) across several departments. Members and staff of the WBG worked closely with HM Treasury providing technical advice and assisting with project management. In Wales a pilot project was carried out, commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission, looking at equality and gender-related issues of sports participation and  budgeting of local authority leisure centres in Wales. Currently, the Wales Gender Budget Group (WGBG) provides technical assistance as one of its key activities. One of its steering group members, through Mewn Cymru, has undertaken a series of  briefings to policy makers in the Welsh Assembly. It recently appointed a gender  budget officer to be an advocate for gender budgeting in the expenditure allocations of the Welsh Assembly government. The group is currently seeking to help find where the recommendation to use gender budgeting in an area of the Assembly’s work can best be achieved.   The gendered nature of transport is one possible area. In the 2005 Equal Opportunities Commission Working Paper Promoting Gender Equality in Transport   National Assembly of Wales statistics on Welsh transport were examined for possible gender issues. It concluded that a much higher proportion of the journeys made by men than women were made as car or van drivers in 2002-03. Conversely, a much higher  proportion of women's journeys were made as a car passenger. Unfortunately, it is not  possible from the published data to state the proportions of journeys that were carried out on public transport. And this is one area where the lack of a gender perspective hinders policy makers from fulfilling their gender duty. Table 1 Trips made by mode of transport, Wales, 2002-03 Per cent Women Men Car/van driver 35 54 Car passenger 31 19 On foot 24 19 Other mode 10 8  All trips (N) 929 970  Notes : Data are from the National Travel Survey. Short walks are believed to have been under-recorded in 2002 and 2003 compared with earlier years. Source : National Assembly for Wales (2005b), Tables 6.3 and 6.5. Table 1 shows that men are more likely than women to travel to work by car in Wales. Amongst those using the car as the main method of travelling to work, a slightly higher proportion of men than women are usually drivers and a slightly lower  proportion are usually passengers. In addition, a higher proportion of adult males than adult females (aged 17 and over) in Wales are full car driving licence holders. In 2002-03, 82 per cent of adult males had a driving licence, compared with only 58 per cent of females. Table 2 Main mode of transport to work, Wales, 2004 Per cent Women Men Car, van, minibus, works van 77 86 On foot 16 7 Bus, coach, private bus or taxi 6 2 Railway 1 2 Bicycle … 1  All 100 100  Notes : Data are from Labour Force Survey, Autumn 2004. … Less than 0.5 per cent. Source : National Assembly for Wales (2005b), Table 6.9. Table 2 shows that in Wales a higher proportion of men's than women's journeys are for commuting and business, while a higher proportion of women's journeys are for shopping. Thus in 1999-2001, commuting and business accounted for 23 per cent of men's trips, compared with only 13 per cent of women's. In addition, it is evident that men travel much larger distances for commuting and business reasons than do women. In 2002-03, more than one third of the distance that men travelled in Wales (an average of 2,749 miles) was for this reason, compared with less than a fifth of the distance travelled by women (an average of only 1,054 miles). Moreover, for all  purposes except shopping and education/escort education, men travelled longer distances than women on average. It is clear, therefore, that transport needs differ for  men and women. This is also reflected in the fact that men are largely in the paid economy while women stretch their time between the two. Women do more caring work than men. Caring responsibilities largely arise out of membership in households and many women share their households with persons more likely to be in the paid economy, working long hours. Transport is an area which intersects many different concerns: much can be done to invigorate the Welsh economy, getting (in particular) women (from different ethnic  backgrounds and able-ness) back into the paid economy while at the same time recognising the different needs of women and men. Seen in this way, a gendered approach to transport issues can get us moving in the right direction. The Wales Gender Budget Group is currently in the planning stages of an international conference in Cardiff to be held in September. At this conference it hopes to bring international expertise directly to Wales in order to talk about practical ways gender sensitive budgeting makes a difference in drafting and implementing  policy. In addition it hopes to hold a launch to announce where the gender budgeting  pilot in the work of the Assembly will take place. BIO: WGBG’s steering group is made up of representatives from Wales Women’s National Coalition (WWNC), the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Oxfam, NUS Cymru, Mewn Cymru, Swansea University. Jackie Jones is the development officer for the WGBG.
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