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Gender budgeting

Gender budgeting involves combining knowledge about budgeting and the knowledge about gender issues with the aim to encourage cost-effective and equitable distribution of public funds.

National budgets reflect countries’ values and priorities. Due to different situations of women and men, boys and girls in the society, the budget can have different impact on people. Generally, this difference is not clear, however, as the budget appears outwardly to be impartial. Gender budgeting are intended to make the gender difference visible where it exists.

Subsequently, ways can be sought to restructure the budget to promote gender equality, and ensure that gender considerations are included in all decision- and policy-making. Gender budgeting is a tool that promotes better economic management and informed decisions, contributing to prosperity and well-being in the society.

In drafting its five-year fiscal strategy and annual budgets the government has to make decisions on social and economic priorities. Gender budgeting considers what the impact of these decisions will be before they are taken. This is done by analysing the situation of people in the society and examining the decisions to be taken against this background. One prerequisite for such analyses is the gender-disaggregated statistical data and data on people's situation.

What is gender budgeting?

It is a means of linking together equal rights policy and economic policy.

The method assumes that fiscal decisions are not gender-neutral, whether the decisions concern revenues or expenditures.

It begins with an analysis of what impact individual budget revenue and expenditure items will have on each gender and how equal rights perspectives can be integrated into general budgeting.

This method does not require separate budgeting for women and men, only budgeting based on social factors.

It requires a closer examination of the impact of the budget. With more detailed analysis of the beneficiaries.

This method makes targeting more focused and in so doing encourages more efficient utilisation of public funds.

The process requires the participation of a greater number of stakeholders, increasing democracy in the decision-making process.

This method can be applied equally to individual budget revenue and expenditure items or specific government actions in their entirety.

Gender budgeting:

  • Encourages economic welfare, as discrimination has negative effects on societies;
  • Promotes better informed decision making;
  • Links together equal rights policy and economic policy;
  • Is not separate budgeting for women or men;
  •  Is budgeting which takes into account people's situation and encourages equality;
  • Requires the integration of social perspectives into financial planning and budgeting;
  • Makes targeting more focused;
  • Involves more stakeholders and should therefore increase democracy in decision-making;
  • Can be applied to budget revenue or expenditure items, or specific government actions;
  • Gender budgeting is a tool to promote better economic management and more informed decisions, contributing to prosperity and well-being in the society.


Due to different situations, the collection and allocation of public funds has different impacts on various groups in society. This may apply, for instance, to planning of transportation and communications, residential areas, employment participation, the birth rate and so on. Considerably more men than women live outside the capital area in Iceland, for example, and the difference is most apparent in the age group 20-39 years. This has very much to do with the difference in the situation of men and women which was not always taken into account when decisions were made. The decisions may have concerned job creation, transport and communications, healthcare and services for families with children. The outcome, understandably enough, can have a negative impact on population growth outside the capital area.


The introduction of gender budgeting is to a significant extent a question of changing the mindset of people who generally work on the preparation of budgets and fiscal plans. Knowledge of gender issues and understanding of people's social situation is a prerequisite for further work. At the same time, access to gender segregated statistical data needs to be improved. Processes and procedures need to be structured so that gender budgeting will be integrated into traditional budgetary procedures at all stages.

To accomplish this, a committee has been set up, led by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in a formal cooperation with the Ministry of Welfare. The committee includes representatives of all the ministries and the Centre for Gender Equality. Similarly, steering groups in all the ministries are responsible for implementing gender budgeting within each ministry.

For further information contact: Marta Birna Baldursdóttir

E-mail: [email protected]

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