There is no sufficient progress in gender-responsive budgeting

The recommendations for improving gender-responsive budgeting include, among other things, supporting spending units for better formulation of gender-responsive and transformative goals and indicators, as well as better control of reports on budget execution, with a focus on the results achieved.

This was highlighted during the panel discussion ‘Program Budgeting through Gender Lens: What Have We Learned?’ organised by IA, with the support of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights.

Among other recommendations for improving gender budgeting, presented by representatives of institutions, civil society organisations, and international organisations, the emphasis was on increasing the gender-sensitiveness of managers and coordinators for program budgeting through additional training. The Ministry of Finance was called upon to increase the control over the quality of budget execution reports concerning gender perspective. Additionally, there is a perceived necessity to amend the Budget and Fiscal Responsibility Law with provisions on gender-responsive budgeting.

Nikoleta Pavićević from IA presented the findings of the analysis ‘Program Budgeting in Montenegro: Contribution to Gender Equality or Just a Tick in a Box?’

“When delving deeper into the analysis of budget requests and budget execution reports, it is evident that program budgeting is not sufficiently developed, especially in the area of gender-responsive budgeting”, she stated.

This is reflected in the data demonstrating that for over 70% of the program budget goals, there is no data on how they contribute to reducing gender disparities. The insufficient gender sensitivity of the budget is also evident from the fact that, out of 87 indicators in the analyzed budget requests, only 2 are gender-responsive.

Luka Đuričković, the Head of the Directorate for Budget Policy, Program Budget, and Procedures at the Ministry of Finance, emphasized that, even though there is still a lot of room for improvement in the implementation of gender-responsive budgeting, he is satisfied with the progress made after three years of its implementation, especially because these are only the first steps. He highlighted that the 2024 budget proposal will be significantly more advanced in terms of gender-responsive budgeting, explaining:

“We have had intensive communication with spending units in this regard, and the current draft budget recognizes numerous activities that are gender-responsive, corrected, and improved.”

As a challenge, the Ministry of Finance recognizes the insufficient number of budget analysts who could monitor the quality of requests and reports from spending units, and currently, there are only 15 of them.

Marija Dragojević from the Secretariat of the Council for Competitiveness said that the topic of gender-responsive budgeting requires a horizontal approach involving all interested parties, as well as the recognition of the concepts of gender-responsive budgeting and gender-responsive statements in the law.

“The Secretariat has trained over 150 employees from spending units, including 15 trainers for gender-responsive budgeting who will work on enhancing capacities in this field,” said Dragojević.

Blažo Savković, a state auditor at the State Audit Institution, emphasized that the findings of their report on the audit of the effectiveness of implementing gender equality policies show that a certain number of spending units, which marked a portion of their budget as gender-sensitive, did not conduct appropriate analysis and assessment of its impact on gender equality.

“In practice, without gender analysis, it is not possible to define appropriate gender-sensitive goals or indicators to measure progress in achieving these goals,” concluded Savković.

“For the quality of the program budget, it is necessary to define the structure and establish responsibilities for budget development in spending units, especially when collecting and processing data needed for gender analysis,” he added.

Angelina Šaranović, the Secretary of the Committee for Gender Equality in the Parliament of Montenegro, shared that the budget for the year 2023 recorded an increase of 1.40% compared to the previous budget when it comes to allocations for reducing gender disparities. However, many programs are still labeled as gender-neutral in the submitted reports, which is not a good indicator. She also mentioned that it would be good to introduce a label indicating whether a program is gender-transformative. She concludes that the government should provide clear guidelines for gender mainstreaming in the capital budget, which is currently completely left out of the gender mainstreaming efforts.

Anita Stjepčević from the Center for Women’s Rights reminded us that the specific needs of those targeted by policies (women, girls, men, boys, and all other gender identities) are often insufficiently or not taken into account at all.

“Gender analysis and the measures developed based on them are a condition for good public policies,” she stated.

Anita also pointed out the need to enhance the gender literacy of the personnel working on program budgeting.

IA Team

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