Supporting gender mainstreaming to mitigate gender-neutral macroeconomic analysis
Gender mainstreaming requires sufficient human and financial resources. If these are not made available, gender-responsive policies cannot trans-late to on-the-ground realities. For this reason, gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) is essential to ensure that human and financial resources are available for gender mainstreaming and empowerment activities. As a point of departure, it is paramount to take into account that macroeconomic analysis is oftentimes gender-neutral for the following reasons:
- Economic institutions carry and transmit gender biases: Often, economic institutions ignore male biases in employment legislation, property rights, and inheritance laws, all of which restrict and determine the economic activity of women.
- The cost of reproducing and maintaining the labour force is invisible because economic analysis does not consider unpaid labour: Women are disproportionately burdened with care-work responsibilities; although it is unpaid, it is vital for maintaining and reproducing the labour force.
- Gender relations play an important role in the division of labour and the distribution of employment, income, wealth, and productive inputs: There are a number of occupations dominated by one of the genders, and regardless of education or skill level required, occupations dominated by women usually have lower earnings than those dominated by men.
In order to remedy these gender-neutral dimensions in macroeconomic analysis, there are three import-ant phases to consider in gender mainstreaming in budgets:
- Raise awareness and understanding of gender and impacts of budgets.
- Ensure governments are accountable for upholding commitments to gender budgets and policy.
- Amend and reform budgets and policy to promote gender equality.
The feminization of urban poverty and gender dimension of labour markets
It goes without saying that urbanization engenders changes in national economies, with growing numbers of people moving away from employment in the primary sector and towards the secondary and tertiary sectors. As noted previously, at present, 70 to 80 per cent of economic production is generated in cities.
However, urbanization does not necessarily translate into an adequate standard of living for all. In some countries, it is generally associated with inequality, exclusion, segregation, increased urban poverty rates, slum proliferation, and unequal access to the services and benefits of urbanization. Currently, 54 per cent of the world’s population resides in urban settlements. This is expected to rise to 66 per cent by 2050 and surpass the six billion mark by 2045. Since urban economies are heavily associated with the secondary and tertiary sectors, wage labour dominates the means for meeting essential needs. There-fore, urban poverty has a distinctive gender dimension, as it puts a disproportionate burden on those members of communities and households responsible for unpaid care-work: predominately women. Consequently, combined with unequal rights to adequate housing, to minimum economic welfare, to vote, and to freedom of movement in public spaces, efforts to balance paid work and unpaid care-work disproportionately affect women, and in some case, even girls.
This reality raises concerns about the growing feminization of urban poverty and the inability of national and local governments to provide services to all the residents of their growing cities. Consequently, women’s poverty is directly related to the absence of economic opportunities and autonomy; lack of access to economic resources, land ownership, and inheritance; lack of access to education and support services; and their minimal participation in deci-sion-making processes. In this sense, SDG 1, SDG 5, and SDG 11 are inextricably linked.
As a result of the disproportionate burden of care-work, women are vulnerable to time-poverty, and this can cause a crowding of flexible work economies (i.e., home-based, flexible working hours), which are predominantly associated with the informal sector. In short, women’s care-work responsibilities—the result of gendered division of labour—can cause women to crowd the informal sector in search of flexible work arrangements. Indeed, addressing and engaging the informal sector is oftentimes a challenge for local authorities; therefore, engaging with women’s grass-roots organizations and civil society organizations is paramount.
In light of women’s position in the urban economy, and their relative position in the reality of urban poverty, it is fundamental that urban finance managers consider GEWE as paramount in strategic plans and budgets, thus bringing together SDG 1.4 (“[to] ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources…”), 5.a (“[to] undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws”), and SDG 11 (“[to] make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”).
Transparent municipal institutions via GRB: Achieving SDGs 1, 5, and 16 in cities
Recent trends in municipal finance have led to increased recognition of the different needs of men and women in financing and budgeting. These trends include decentralization policies to ensure more efficient public service delivery; greater emphasis on land property taxation to raise revenue and implement urban development; growing popularity of public–private partnerships; and increasing demands for accountability and transparency of local governance, including increased implementation of trans-parent participatory budgeting methods.
Institutional transparency denotes the availability and accessibility of information to citizens on all decisions and actions made by government; as such, budgets are an ideal area to focus on governance and accountability. The inclusion of a gender perspective in decision-making enhances the legitimacy of governance, in line with SDG 16.7 (“[to] ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”) and 16.b (“[to] promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development”). It enriches political processes by contributing new skills, styles, and visions (see Case Study 4).