Tracking investments in gender equality and women’s empowerment is one of the most effective ways to assess accountability for gender equality commitments. Countries and multilateral institutions are increasingly engaged in developing methods and instruments to do so, resulting in many instances in increased financial resources for gender equality.
UN Women advocates for and provides technical support to international and national efforts to track gender equality financing. One important arena in recent years has involved a series of international discussions on the effectiveness of international development assistance. Since the adoption of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005, gender equality advocates, supported by UN Women, have called on countries to integrate gender perspectives in aid practices, donor coordination and accountability mechanisms.
The active engagement of UN Women and other gender equality advocates at the 2011 Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan resulted in governments making a strong commitment to gender equality in the final outcome agreement. It calls for making greater efforts to use data disaggregated by sex to inform policy decisions and guide development investments, ensuring that public expenditures are targeted appropriately to benefit both women and men. Further, a gender equality indicator has been inserted in a global monitoring framework on development cooperation. It captures the portion of developing countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women is now backing implementation within individual countries.
Significant national steps include those in Ecuador, where a budget classifier developed by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the National Women’s Department and UN Women tracks all public allocations against the national equal opportunity plan, assessing how funds contribute to dimensions such as women’s political participation, freedom from violence and equal opportunities for work. The data facilitates cross-year comparisons and distinguishes between budget allocations and actual spending. Ecuador’s allocations to gender-responsive public policies now top USD 1.3 billion, or 4.5 per cent of the national budget. Funds have gone towards stopping violence against women, promoting equal access to jobs and financial resources, and upholding sexual and reproductive rights.
In 2007, Nepal’s Ministry of Finance introduced gender-responsive budgeting to all ministries as part of budget reform. UN Women assisted in developing criteria and indicators to assess sector allocations to gender equality. Since then, the proportion of funds tagged as “directly responsive” for gender equality has increased from 11 per cent in 2007/2008 to 19 per cent in 2011/2012, encompassing essential investments in women’s health, education and livelihoods. The budget for the national women’s agency has risen by 11 per cent.