Gender Module 4 - 1

Area of expertise: Gender-responsive budgeting

Adequate financing is critical for ensuring that laws and policies on gender and energy achieve their intended results. This module will explore gender-responsive budgeting, (global) climate finance instruments and some broader public financial management considerations.

What’s in a budget and the budget cycle?

A budget outlines where and how a government chooses to spend public funds. In doing so, it identifies priorities. Resources are limited, and therefore every allocation reflects a (political) choice: are funds invested in nuclear power or renewable energy, health or education, gender-based violence or pubic infrastructure?

Beyond that, budgeting is a cycle, not a single event. MPs should use the different stages of the budget cycle to assess and re-assess the decisions they approve, and to invite and consider feedback.

Assessing budget proposals and implementation is the responsibility of parliament. In taking on that responsibility, the impact of each of those proposals on men and women should be a critical consideration. Policies and programmes that fail to respond to the specific needs of men and women, or that fail to meet their implementation targets, should have their allocations adjusted accordingly.

To learn more about budgeting that captures citizen input on budget priorities, check the Open Budgets: Building Accountable Oversight Institutions on AGORA E-Learning Portal.

Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) allows parliaments to analyse government revenue and expenditure from a gender perspective. Have laws and gender initiatives been translated into adequate budget allocations? Are targets and indicators sufficiently clear and concrete? Can budget allocations across different sectors – relating to energy be tweaked to deliver more gender-responsive results? In addressing these questions and in pushing for effective spending, gender responsive budgeting highlights the added value of performance-based budgeting and oversight. Carefully designed targets and indicators will maximise the impact of (limited) resources and are more likely to deliver sustainable results.

Cabo Verde’s Women’s Caucus and gender-responsive budgeting

The Cabo Verde Women’s Caucus with UNDP’s support has carried multiple analyses of the state budget from the gender perspective. In 2015, some of the budget allocations of the Ministry of Education were made taking into account the caucus’s advice and recommendations. As an important long-term impact, the group succeeded in changing the structure of the country’s online budget and expenditure management system to incorporate gender markers and ensure proper reporting and oversight of gender-related expenditure.

As the analyses have fed into the annual expenditure planning, among others in the area of infrastructure, they might in future impact decisions on energy policy expenditure.

Philippines’ Department of Energy launches “Gender Toolkit for the Energy Sector

The DOE, through the GAD Toolkit, provides a set of guidelines and reference materials to its internal units, attached agencies, and other offices and organizations in the energy sector to make their operations, policies and programs to be more responsive to the gender concerns of their stakeholders. The toolkit was developed through the collaborative efforts of the energy Gender and Development-Focal Point System (GAD-FPS) and the Philippine Commission on Women, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (

It is critical that gender responsive budgeting forms an integral part of a country’s public financial management system. Regrettably, limited institutional resources will often mean that sweeping interventions are unlikely in most parliaments. Tokenism must be avoided, but small steps are better than no steps. Gender must be given due consideration: if sustained technical assistance for legislative scrutiny and oversight is difficult to come by, the institution should, at a minimum, award additional time and opportunity for consultation and revision.

Gender responsive budgeting for stronger public financial management

Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) brings together two issues that are not commonly associated with one another: gender equality and public financial management. GRB argues that gender equality principles should be incorporated into all stages of the budget process. In this video, Maja Bosnic explains how GRB can contribute to stronger public financial management and, ultimately, improved public service delivery. (

Beyond Parliament: Supreme Audit Institutions

Maintaining constructive relationships with the relevant audit institutions is invaluable. A high quality external audit is an essential requirement for creating transparency in the use of public funds and a key component of public financial accountability. This function needs to be undertaken by a competent entity, independent of the executive branch. It is usually referred to as Supreme Audit Institution (SAI). In its oversight role of the executive's stewardship of public funds, the SAI performs financial, compliance and / or performance audits. The latter can point to any irregularities in the use of public funds and systemic weaknesses; determine the reliability of government financial reports; flag instances and patterns of waste and inefficiency; and identify ways to improve the “value for money” of public spending.

Supreme Audit Institutions can facilitate gender responsive budgeting by collecting and sharing relevant information throughout the entire budget cycle. In the planning stages, Ministries of Finance need reliable revenue projections to outline macro-economic policy frameworks and make realistic allocations. Parliament needs access to facts and figures on a regular basis to review revenue projections, assess proposed allocations and monitor spending. With regard to oversight, the reports provided by the audit institutions will inform and guide parliamentarians in asking questions of relevant ministries and holding the government accountable for its spending.

Any public planning, policy making or use of public funding in the area of energy can be subject to review and audit, both with respect to the management of spending from public funds and the effectiveness of policies and programmes in achieving their stated objectives. For example, a gender audit of the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 2008 looked at how its policies and its budget outlays addressed women’s specific energy needs. The audit report, endorsed by MNRE, showed, among others, that modern renewable energy projects did not sufficiently benefit women and that existing programmes did not collect sex-disaggregated data. As the audit process involved consultations with a range of stakeholders including women’s organisations, civil society groups and the media, gender mainstreaming in the energy sector gained an important ground as a policy tool.

Public Financial Management e-learning course on AGORA

This course introduces public financial management (PFM). It zooms in on the role of parliaments and supreme audit institutions in public spending, and on the emerging engagement of civil society. It has been developed for parliaments, supreme audit institutions and civil society but is also recommended for practitioners and students. To help participants work through the subject as effectively as possible, this course uses animations, video presentations and interactive review points. Further reading materials are provided if you are looking for more details. (

Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS): SAI for gender equality

In 2014, members of the OLACEFS signed the Cusco Declaration, committing to focus their work towards good governance in the benefit of an inclusive economic and social growth. Gender equality was included among the priority issues. As a result, in 2015, the SAIs of Chile, Costa Rica carried out a coordinated audit on matters of gender equality and equity. The audit zoomed in on the countries’ commitments in areas of education, health and employment and its outcomes were reported to the parliaments and relevant ministries in each country. The purpose of the exercise was to develop a comprehensive set of measures and indicators, which could later be used by each audit institution to independently undertake a similar audit on the national level, broadening the scope to include other issues.

Gender audits

In their oversight capacity, parliaments can monitor the government’s implementation of set policies. One example, explored further in module 4, are gender audits of energy policies and institutions governing the energy sector. Such audits can, for example, substantiate the need for institutional strengthening to support a more gender-informed management information system (MIS) for the energy sector’s use. Working closely with the national statistical body or census bureau, the MIS develops the use of sex-disaggregated data based on gender-sensitive indicators which serve as a basis for gender impact analysis, policy evaluation and monitoring.

The power of the purse means that parliaments can influence national budget allocations towards improving household energy technologies and making them more accessible to women through innovative financing mechanisms, or supporting investment in energy infrastructure, such as decentralised RES systems.

Climate Finance Instruments

International experience from development programmes indicates that increasing the gender-responsiveness of public climate change funding is an opportunity to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America, Overseas Development Institute

National development plans and mitigations and adaptation strategies developed in a gender-responsive way must be matched with coherent budget allocations. Today’s international climate finance instruments offer considerable leverage for gender-responsive energy policies. Where many of these instruments lacked a clear gender framework until quite recently, most now have specific provisions that call for – and in fact demand – gender-responsive measures on the part of the projects and programmes they support. During the UNFCCC COP in Durban, Parties to the Convention confirmed the need for gender balance in the composition of two new bodies dealing with adaptation and climate finance respectively, namely the Adaptation Committee and the Standing Committee as well as in the Board and Secretariat of the new Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Gender and Climate Finance

The climate finance mechanisms established under the UNFCCC, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF), the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), and the overarching Global Environment Facility (GEF) have adopted policies on gender mainstreaming. The latter guide the funds and their implementing partners on how to promote women’s rights through their operations. All instruments have committed to upholding women’s human rights and to contributing to gender equality in line with international human rights instruments, ensuing applicable international and domestic law.

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) are committed to robust gender mainstreaming to enhance gender-responsive outcomes across CIF programs, Investment Plans and projects. The CIF Gender Action Plan FY15-16, seeks to mainstream gender in CIF policy and programming in support of gender equality in climate-resilient, low carbon development investment in CIF countries. The overall goal of the CIF is to initiate transformational change towards climate-resilient, low carbon development in developing countries through scaled-up financing.