UGC SPONSORED NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON“GENDER RESPONSIVE PLANNING AND BUDGETING ”

 

REPORT

Dr. NirmalaPadmanabhan, Head of Department, Economics, addressed the gathering by pointing out three reasons which made the workshop different from the earlier workshops that were organized. Firstly, she pointed out that the workshop came out of a genuine desire to undertake Gender Responsive Budgeting in the local body nearby-KuzhuppillyPanchayat. Secondly, the seminar was blessed with the GRB experts in the country, like Yamini Mishra (representative of United Nations, GRB Unit in Asia), who is currently working with UN Women as GRB specialist for Asia Specific and has provided technical inputs to governments and CSO partners, in countries of Asia Specific, including the Government of India. NavnithaSinha (representative of United Nations, GRB Unit in Asia), GRB specialist, South, East and South East Asia, UN Women Office for Multi-Country India, Bhutan, Maldives and SriLanka. She is well known for her presentation and information on GRB for developing programme for proposals. And Dr. SwapnaBist Joshi, Senior Consultant of National Planning and Budgeting with United Nations Women, for Multi-country India, Bhutan, Maldives and SriLanka; and has ten years of progressive and diverse experience in the field of development and research; provided the information on public policies on expenditure.

 

The support of the institution needs a special mentioning. Rev.Dr.Sr.Teresa, Principal, St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, from the personal experience itself, knows that when a proposal is presented before her, and if she finds it beneficial to the students, she gives the permission.

 

Finally, Dr. Nirmala pointed out the third difference of the seminar. It is the heterogeneous groups of participants the seminar have. They were from John Mathai Centre, Trichur; SB College, Changanaserry, SCMS College, Aluva; St. Albert’s College, Ernakulam; SH College, Thevara; and many others. This, group of different thinkers, is another reason why the seminar becomes unique from others. The basic idea is that it should not be the end of the planning, but the beginning of a new initiative. The idea is to form a chain of these heterogeneous institutions, which are genuinely interested to start GRB in their respective local bodies.

The session was opened up by Ms. Yamini Mishra. Dr. Swapnaexplained what Gender Analysis is all about, and the policy approaches to women’s involvement in the development process  Ms. SwapnaBist Joshi Gender Responsive Budgeting Unit, South, East and South East Asia,    UN Women Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives & Sri Lanka began with the understanding of the term gender; and there were lots of definitions given by the participants-that, it’s a biological distinction; social distinction; and even it is a meaning or a term that the society gives. Basically gender identity is found as male and female. And there are different theories based on the gender identity concept. The first theory is the biological theory, whose first attempt was to understand what the gender means. It says that it is basically the influence of genes and hormones. The second is the Psychodynamic theory, propounded in 1905. The people from the stream of psychology came through certain ideas of how gender identity is performed. It analyses the psychic conflicts on women and children, with pressure. Another theory is the Acognitive development theory, which looks out the development of the child’s mind. The child has its own thinking process, and he identifies himself as a male or female as he grows, because his brain develops in that way, molded by the society and the family. So that’s what the cognitive development theory talks about.

The kind of family, the kind of society, culture, all these are the factors that influences one’s behavior over time. Moving on to the social picture, there is a pre-determined framework that decides the maleness and femaleness. Say for example, blue color is meant for boys and pink for girls. This distinction is shown right from the womb; we distinguish between the two genders. When it comes to the behavior, the behavioral pattern of the family, if it is male-dominant, the male or the boy child would imitate the same, showing that he is important and must consider him as an elder. This is the kind of message that the society gives.

Next, it was to focus on different framework of gender analysis. There are several frameworks’, such as the Moser framework, Sara Longwe’s empowerment framework, Social relations approach etc. Their strengths and limitations were also discussed.

 

The need for inclusion of gender in public policies is for the very reason that how the intra-personal relationships at the level of the society are has an impact on the institutions and also public policies.

 

Women often do multi-tasking activities, i.e., even if they are professional they need to do the house-hold works. And there are other productive works that women do, which are unaccounted in the nation’s statistics, say for example in the agrarian sector. The approaches and the frameworks’ discussed also takes a lead role in the policy making. These were to build an understanding of various approaches to women’s involvement in development.

Moving on to the overview of the Gender Responsive Budgeting, lectured by Ms. Yamini Mishra, she tried to provide an overview of GRB as well as share GRB initiatives from different countries. She began from the term budget, its general meaning etc. and then to the gender, in terms of the institutional activities, the Ministry of Women and Development.

On the gender agenda, we can allocate resources to women too. Actually there are two sort of different arguments. One, of course, the gender agenda which would actually remain meaningless, unless and until you back it up with enough support. And another argument is that the budget would not be a good budget, if you don’t consider the entire population. So both, without each other will be incomplete.

 

In India, the GRB is included in the 12th Five Year Plan; so it is included in the Planning document. In some other countries like Austria, it is the part of the Constitution. But in UK, the treasury of the government was actually taken to court; challenged that the budget passed in 2010, actually violated the equality act of 2006, which basically posses ownership from the government. Before the government passes a budget or policy, it should do a gender analysis of the budget or policy, i.e., to shifts the owner from individual to the state.

 

There are two fundamental arguments on Gender Responsive Budgeting. The first argument is that, budget on women and men because of the different socially determined rules which plays in the economy. Because the level playing field is uneven; any external factor might increase inequality. So, one important logic of GRB is, because men and women are not equal, there are different socially determined rules, we increase inequality, with neutral budget. And the second argument is that government budget might reinforce gender based problems faced by women until special measures are taken. This shows that a neutral policy can create inequality unless and until there are special measures and care taken up

She also discussed the budget and the budget making process, and to identify the strategic areas of intervention for GRB. Usually we talk about the budget, when the budget is to be presented to the legislature or the Parliament. But, the budget making cycle is the cycle which takes up throughout the year. She also stressed the key factors that play an important role in the budget making process.

On the second day, there was a recap of the previous day’s session by Ms. NavnithaSinha. She gave a brief description about the history of GRB. It was initially started in Australia by a group of feminist, headed by Rhonda Sharp. But the fact was that, the GRB was popularized by Debbie Budlenders in South Africa. She added that Gender Budgeting Analysis is not a mere budget analysis, but a way of policy-making. On the first day’s session, Dr. Swapna and Ms. Yamini Mishra discussed the “what and why” of GRB, respectively and here Navnitha moved on to the “how” GRB is analyzed. She added that there has been a range of technical tools which has been proposed for carrying out GRB analysis. Also, there is no one blue-print for GRB and there lies the beauty of GRB.

One of the pioneer icons, Rhonda Sharp, has given a three way categorization of expenditure: (a) gender targeted expenditure; (b) equal opportunity expenditure; (c) mainstream expenditure, considered in terms of its gendered impact. She then moved on to the widely accepted five-step framework put forward by Debbie Budlender, which are as follows:

Step 1: analysis of the situation of women, men, girls and boys in a given sector.

Step 2: assessment of the extent to which policies address the gendered situation (activities).

Step 3: allocations are adequate, in order to implement gender responsive policies (inputs).

Step 4: assessment of short-term outputs of expenditure, in order to evaluate how resources are actually spent, and policies and programmes implemented (output).

Step 5: assessment of the long-term outcomes or impact expenditure might have (outcomes).

Ms. SwapnaBist Joshi

Gender Responsive Budgeting Unit, South, East and South East Asia,  UN Women Office for India, Bhutan, Maldive& Sri Lanka.

Then  Swapna moved on to the third icon, Diane Elson, a UK based economist-cum-feminist. Out of the seven tools, Navnitha emphasized on five important tools namely, (a) gender-aware policy appraisals; (b) sex-disaggregated public expenditure benefit incidence analysis; (c) sex-disaggregated beneficiary assessments of public service delivery; (d) gender analysis of impact of budget on time use; (e) gender aware budget statements. The limitations of the mentioned tools are, it is difficult to identify the beneficiaries, and also it cannot be done in invisible sectors like defenses, due to lack of availability of data..

Dr. Thomas Issac, former Finance Minister, Government of Kerala, and Honorary Fellow, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum  focused on his own personal experience in Kerala, as a Finance Minister of Kerala. He first laid down some theoretical framework, but his discussion was mainly concerned about practical problems. He concentrated on the following issues:

(1) What is the relevance of gender budget, specifically in the case of Kerala?

(2) What is gender budgeting? He tried to explain what his idea of gender budget is all about.

(3) The experience of gender budgeting in Kerala and the outcome also.

(4) The gender budgeting experience at the state level.

(5) The outcome.

He then discussed about the achievements and limitations. This is what Dr. Thomas Issac attempted to present in his lecture. He pointed out that the relevance of gender budgeting arises from the fact that women had been getting marginalized in the developmental process; he also pointed out that the condition of women in Kerala is better in terms of education, health care and so on. But when it comes to the status of women in relation to men, then Kerala is backward. He adds that the most startling evidence of this would be the declining participation rate of women in work. The women who are working is segregated from jobs, i.e., gender division of labour is very deep. According to him, the big development challenge for Kerala is that women are forced to be invisible in public life, i.e., violence against women. It is a shame that a state which has achieved so much in social justice, i.e., eradication of worst forms-caste discrimination-but justice is as backward as any other state, in Kerala.

 

Gender discrimination has set larger political, cultural question. But he says that definitely it has an economic peace or nostalgia.

 

By taking into consideration the concept of family wages he added that the wages of women are basically low.

 

What is the most viable instrument in the development process, which is the budget. In the case of India, total budget of the central and the state governments would come up to around 30 percent of the GDP. So one-third of resources are spent through the government and he added that there is a very important implication for resource allocation and distribution, i.e., the priorities of government has big implications for where the resources would go.

 

Policy makers should have a broad idea about the problems or the challenges involved.

 

He then discussed how these ongoing programmes respond to these challenges, and the various techniques involved in it.

 

First, to understand the nature of government schemes involved and try to classify them in relation to women’s requirement. First extreme is that 100 percent beneficiaries are women; and the second extreme is that where the programmes are meant for both men and women, and it cannot clearly identify the gender component.

 

All new development projects come under the plan side and other recurring expenditures comes under non-plan expenditures. He cited the example of the KSRTC bus stand, which is used by both men and women; but when it comes to the case of a ladies toilet, then it becomes a component which can be identified. 100 percent beneficiaries, but does it results in a transformation of gender relations in empowering women. In a larger sense, the answer is “NO”.

 

He then pointed out the importance of formation of SHGs so that women’s work is visible and income goes into the account of women so that women have some control of the money they earn.

 

Proper gender budgeting, i.e., how, in the next budget, protest can be designed so that much more responsive gender concerns, high allocation for women development projects, so that over time budget becomes an instrument to improve the status of women. And finally he added that according to him, this is what is called gender budgeting.

 

He concludes his lecture by drawing attention into the possibility of local level interventions. If you are interested then you can intervene. He also adds that decentralization does not guarantee an outcome but it generates a democratic space. Also, in Kerala, there is such a democratic space.

The day 3 session was led by Dr. MridulEapen, Honorary Fellow, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum. She is a former member, Kerala State Planning Board. She shared her experiences during her tenure at the planning board and the experience of the works on evolving a pragmatic approach to gender responsive budgeting at the state level and evaluating the women component plan in Kerala’s decentralized planning process. She started the session by giving brief idea of gender budget or gender responsive budget. Gender budget is not a budget for women but one adhoch seeks to break down or disaggregate the government’s usual or mainstream budget according to its impact on girls or boys, women or men, through a variety of tools designed for the purpose. It is a methodology to assist government’s to integrate a gender perspective into the budget. Then she moved on to the relevance or the reason as to why we need a gender budget. She discussed the following as the reasons for gender budget. Firstly, evidence suggests that budgets are not gender neutral. Secondly, the fact that a significant proportion of women who report themselves “principally engaged in household duties” are doing a number of economic activities at home, like maintenance of a kitchen garden, keeping poultry, livestock, taking tuitions, tailoring etc., besides performing household tasks.

Shri. T .G .Vijayan, President, KuzhuppillyPanchayathfamiliarised the audience in the actual process of budget making in the local level and highlighted the abstance that created the hardships for devising proper plans for local bodies, specifically women’s plan.

Dr. Peter M Raj, Associate Professor, Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA),  outlined the inter-relationships between local governance and gender mainstreaming. He highlighted that if we actually go with the domestic violence, then all men in Kerala would be accused of domestic violence.

2.45pm  – 4.30pm        The valedictory function was held on the third day, i.e., 6th December 2013, and the Guest of Honors’ were Smt. Bhadra B, Deputy Mayor Cochin Corporation, Sri T.G .Vijayan ,president Kuzhupillypanchayath , Dr. Peter .M. Raj, Assistant Professor KILA, DrP.P.Balan director KILA, DrNirmalaPadmanabhan Head of the Department Economics, St Teresa’s College.

In her welcome address Dr. NirmalaPadmanabhan gave a brief idea about the Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting and the idea behind organizing such a workshop. In her address Smt .Bhadra shared her personal experience while presenting the budget in Cochin Corporation. She congratulated the entire crew behind organizing the workshop and also extended her fully fledged support for the practical application of Gender Responsive Budgeting.

 

Dr P.P Balan outlined the difficulties in realizing the various schemes envisioned in the GRB. He added that a lot of effort is required at the local level to ensure the sustainability of these programmes. He opinioned that men actually fears that they will be displaced from the political scenario, if the 50% and more reservation comes into existence. He quoted the example of a panchayath in Haryana that achieved greater heights under the decentralized rule politically operated by women. The saddest part is that these representatives were not given a second chance due to the male insecurity complex. He also elaborated that equilibrating the male and female forces are essential for developing the entire nation.

2018-10-11T17:15:59+00:00

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