On 12 October 2012, the OSCE Gender Section held a discussion in Vienna on gender responsive budgeting and its role in ensuring equality between women and men within the Organization and participating States.
The event took place on the margins of the meeting of the OSCE Advisory Committee on Management and Finance - a regular forum bringing together budget experts from all 56 OSCE participating States to discuss OSCE expenditures.
Miroslava Beham, the OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues, underlined the importance of providing adequate resources for the goals of gender equality – the commitment outlined in the OSCE 2004 Action Plan.
“Numbers and figures – including those in budgets - often appear gender neutral, but this is rarely the case,” she said. “Expenditure patterns and the way governments or international organizations raise revenues and cut costs can have a different impact on women and men, and often this inequality is to the detriment of women.”
The keynote speaker at the event, Gerhard Steger, Director General of the Budget and Public Finance Department of the Austrian Finance Ministry, said: “Gender budgeting makes sense, because budget decisions are key decisions. Thus, the budget is the most effective lever to foster gender equality.” He spoke about Austria’s budget reform which he said was widely recognized as a best practice for implementing gender budgeting for the federal government as a whole, and shared his country’s experience in ensuring that a budget is gender responsive.
“In the budget reform process, gender budgeting means not only addressing the question of ‘who gets what’ but also the question of ‘who should deliver which results and when,’” said Steger. He also highlighted the fact that gender budgeting does not “create a gender ghetto” but instead targets the overall policy-making environment.
The meeting participants raised a number of questions including on implementation and the difficulties involved when various ministries are in charge of fulfilling a budget outcome objective.