The government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has taken a vital step towards gender equality by adopting its first strategy on gender-responsive budgeting (GRB).
Although gender-responsive budgeting has led to the growth of separate programmes and micro-projects for women, this project takes a more inclusive approach. The five-year plan will ensure that, across government agencies, gender gaps and inequality in policies, plans, programmes and budgets are broadly addressed and modified.
“This step will initiate practical changes, which will have a direct impact on women as beneficiaries,” says Ermira Lubani, the GRB Regional Project Manager at UN Women. “This should improve the accessibility of employment, social and health services and subsidies for women in rural areas, for example.”
The Strategy features three complementary parts. Once a gender mainstreaming system with guidelines and norms is in place, the central and local government will be able – and obliged – to ensure that men and women are equally served by the public sector. To lay the groundwork for these changes, the plan will examine and improve relevant laws and policies. And by including comprehensive training, it will ensure that civil servants can carry out gender-responsive changes at all levels.
UN Women has technically and financially supported the Strategy as part of a broader programme to promote gender-responsive policies in South East Europe, with financial support also coming from the Austrian Development Agency. Ministry representatives sought to better understand the gender landscape, among other aspects, through a series of consultations with civil society organizations, members of parliament and state institutions over the course of a year.
The country’s State Counselor for Equal Opportunities, Elena Grozdanova has pointed out that the new approach to budgeting will see the government take a new beneficiary-oriented approach, in line with gender equity goals.
The government has already begun to develop an operational plan, to implement the gender-responsive budget processes, and as a first step has instructed sector ministries on bringing a gender dimension into 2013 budget proposals. Capacity building and trainings for the civil servants are planned soon, along with a handbook for their use.