Gender-responsive budgeting has been applied by a few dozen developing countries since the mid-1980s, though to very different extents and in diverse forms. It is difficult to identify what its impact has been on gender outcomes and on resource distribution within government, due to a limited evidence base and to complexity in assessing and interpreting impact.
Nevertheless, some findings have emerged. Gender-responsive budgeting is generally seen as having had a mixed impact, with some positive outcomes and some cases where no impact is established (there is no evidence of any negative effects). There is no meta-review available, and evidence of impact is based on case studies. Positive outcomes include:
- Better dynamics for gender equality in budget processes. Awareness, capacities and data related to gender equality have often been increased, and budget transparency, accountability and participation improved.
- Improved gender outcomes in budgets, policies and service delivery. This was achieved when gender-responsive budgeting was used in conjunction with other strategies, methods and tools for gender equality. Examples includes cross-sectoral budget changes and sectoral ones.
The literature identifies various factors that affect the impact of gender-responsive budgeting:
- Obstacles include: the lack of sex-disaggregated data and of data on gender relations; limited capacity and resources for such a complex task; and gaps in action (e.g. on the revenue side) and sustainability.
- Enabling factors include: securing sustained support for gender-responsive budgeting; engendering the entire budget process and economic policy; ensuring practical feasibility; building capacities; supporting women’s participation in planning and budgeting; and linking gender issues with other structural inequalities.