Integrating Gender into Macroeconomic/Development Policy: The Experience of
Gender Responsive Budgeting in Kerala
Dr. Mridul Eapen
Hon.Fellow, Centre for Development Studies,
Trivandrum 695 011
• As we reflected yesterday, one thought which would
strike everybody is why after decades of struggle to
achieve gender equality, it continues to elude us
despite it being well recognised now that
development is not gender neutral (that is there is a
male centric bias).
• And with this persistent mismatch between
government macro policy and development outcomes
for women, feminist scrutiny has increasingly
focussed on macro economic policy and its gender
• This is so especially in the context of policies of
market oriented economic reforms adopted in a
number of developing economies since the 80s and
90s, which have not been effective in removing
poverty and human deprivation.
• Enough documented evidence exists which reveals
that the restructuring process is occurring on a
gendered terrain. Women’s unpaid reproductive work
has intensified and productive work is generated in
primarily unorganised forms with barely any social
protection. It also created a tendency towards skill
• While most of the feminist critique of economic
reforms has focussed on examining the impact at the
level of the family, it is necessary to go beyond this
and analyse how male bias is constituted at the meso
and macro level, that is at the level of the mediating
institutions and monetary aggregates.
• The issue ofcourse is how institutions and monetary
aggregates which are not intrinsically gendered
become bearers of gender, permeated through and
through by gender in their institutional structure.
• At the meso level, the operation of markets, firms and
public sector agencies is gendered via the social norms
and networks which are functional to the smooth
functioning of these institutions.
• At the macro level, the important thing is the role of
money, which mobilises human effort the output of
which gets counted in the gross national product.
• But money’s mobilising power is incomplete since its
ability to mobilise labour power for productive work
depends on the operation of some non-monetary set of
social relations to mobilise labour power for
“reproductive” work.
• The monetary economy cannot sustain itself without
an input of unpaid labour shaped by the structure of
gender relations, the burden of reproductive work
falling largely on women
• Macro economic policies do not consider women’s unpaid
reproductive labour: it takes the “reproductive economy” for
granted assuming it can continue to function adequately no
matter how much its relation to the productive economy is
disrupted. This is because of an implicit assumption that the
reproductive economy can accommodate itself to whatever
changes macro policy introduces esp to withdrawals of public
services and subsidies and decline in public sector
employment and to rises in prices and taxes.
• Since women undertake most work in the reproductive
economy this is equivalent to assuming an unlimited supply of
female labour able to compensate for any adverse changes
resulting from macro eco policy, so as to continue to meet the
basic needs of their families and communities and sustain them
as social organistaions.
• There is an interdependence between the nonmonetised (reproductive) and monetised economy an
implication of which ofcourse is that money and all its
forms become bearers of gender expressing male bias
in the development process.
• This is reflected both in quantitative terms (as in wage
differentials between men and women) and qualitative
terms (as in the difference between paid work which is
recognised as productive/economic work and unpaid
work which is not).
• This interdependence cannot be successfully
regulated by individual contract and monetary
• Mediation of organisations of the State and
community, provision of public services and
community mutual aid are essential to avoid
destitution and social breakdown and enhance human
development in ways that promote productivity in the
monetised economy.
• A feminist critique of economic policy reform at the
macro level can be developed in terms of an analysis
of how policy treats the interdependence between the
‘productive’ and the ‘reproductive’ economy; between
making a profit and meeting needs.
• The question is: How do we engender macro policy
which is a political given for most developing
economies undergoing economic reform. When does
the state respond?
• An attempt to incorporate the household sector in
macroeconomic modelling for which a theoretical
framework is required was attempted in the mid
nineties but is yet to be fully developed though efforts
are continuing
• How much space is there for gender advocacy in the context of
globalisation/liberalisation when State’s own control over
public finance decisions is reduced.
• Certain modifications have been introduced over time by the
World Bank in respect of its “austerity conditions”; and
further, endorsing “good governance” (decentralisation) as a
core component of its development strategy.
• Ar the same time organised resistance to reforms due to the
growing inequalities within and across regions, making certain
sections of the people worse off, has compelled governments
to consider pro-poor policies in their restructuring initiatives to
make development more “inclusive”.
• This creates some space for intervention in terms of
• One of the most important areas of macroeconomic
policy and a point of entry which has gained
widespread acceptance is engendering a Budget.
Bringing together public expenditures and public
revenues, the budget which commands substantial
resources, is seen as the macro economic stance of a
government, reflecting its social and economic
priorities. The rationale for GRB initiatives lies in the
fact that its methodology recognises women’s
‘reproductive’ unpaid labour and the extant unequal
gender relations, providing us tools to integrate
gender into budgeting/planning.
• While GB methodology as it evolved in the Australian context
in the 80s, did include the need for Time Use Surveys,
experience over the last two decades has resulted in some
modification of the tools to make them simpler to use and
broadly a five step approach has been developed, but in more
recent variants of it, time use surveys seem to have lost out.
• We strongly advocate the need to collect data on unpaid care
work thru TUS since the costs of such labour are a major
driver of gender inequalities, both within households and
• However, in the 11th Plan period we did try to evolve a
pragmatic approach to GRB in Kerala using some of the tools
laid out and TUSs done earlier to emphasise the unequal
burden of household work on women..
Methodology of Gender Responsive Budgeting
First, is a description of the situation of girls/boys, women/men in
a given sector to identify gender differences;= a needs
Second, is an assessment of the extent to which the sector’s policy
addresses the gender issues and gaps identified in the first step
(an assessment of the relevant legislations is also essential);
Third, is an ex-post analysis of the Budget focusing on the
expenditure side to see where funds have been allocated; do the
programmes address the above identified gender gaps and are
the allocations adequate; composition of expenditures.
Fourth, is to move beyond financial numbers and monitor whether
the money allocated has been spent as planned, what was
delivered and to whom. This involves checking both financial
allocations and the physical deliverables (disaggregated by
sex);effectiveness of service delivery; and
Fifth, involves assessment of the impact of the
policy/programme/scheme and the extent to which the situation
described in the First step has been changed in the direction of
greater gender equality.Expenditure and taxation policies have
different implications for women and men and differentially
affect their abilities to contribute to production for the market
and the care of families and communities. These implications
can be revealed through gender-disaggregated incidence
analysis of public expenditure and of taxation and income
The most commonly used tools of GB are (i) a situational
analysis of girls/boys, men/women with a gender aware policy
appraisal; and (ii) an ex-post gender sensitive analysis of the
Budget focusing on the expenditure side.
• Monitoring and assessing gender impact of projects is rarely
• We briefly demonstrate how we can use this framework for
doing a GB exercise highlighting the limitations of doing even
this minimum exercise( ex-post analysis of the budget)
which has encouraged scholars and activists to move beyond
financial numbers towards more meaningful ways of using the
GB methodology for addressing issues of concern to women.
Using the GB Framework to do a Gender Sensitive
Analysis of Budgets: a Summary Statement
• The classification of expenditure in the Budget, is given by
Plan and non-Plan, by major heads of account which
indicate the different functions of the government. A
Demand is proposed for each function and the expenditure
on revenue account, and the expenditure on capital account
relating to a function are brought together under the same
demand which gives us an idea of the total cost of each
function. Under each major head there are minor heads
denoting the various programmes under the particular
• On the expenditure side the focus of the Gender Budget has
been on (a) women specific programmes (that is 100 percent
for women);(b) those with a stipulated allocation for women or
an anticipated flow of at least 30 percent of the resources to
women, based on secondary data and /or experiential evidence
regarding beneficiaries by gender as consumers, workers or
producers of the goods and services delivered by the
programmes and © the general or mainstream expenditures.
• The former is categorized as Part A and the second as Part B in
the Gender Budget Statement presented along with the Union
Budget. The proportion that is anticipated to flow to women
and reason thereof is not specified in the GB statement against
each head but which we did for Kerala
•The two together, that is Part A and Part B, give us the total
financial allocation of resources flowing to women.
•This is in terms of Plan funds; gender disaggregation of non-plan
expenditure is difficult even for 100 percent women specific
programmes unless we have some idea of the employment pattern
by men/women in each sector. While the GB statement for the
Union Budget gives the women allocation for non-plan
expenditures also, once again the rationale for the percentage
taken is not known.
Limitations of this Exercise
•It has not been easy to track the flow of resources to
women in Part B in the absence of gender disaggregated
data. While the GB methodology (steps 4 and 5) does
allow for monitoring the flow of funds of each project by
girls/boys, men/women to get some idea of how much
flows to women, as stated earlier, this normally does not
get done since it requires field level surveys.
•Moreover, this exercise is done for ‘gender related’
sectors, like Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy,
Fisheries, Rural Development, Education, Health, Social
Welfare, Small/Traditional Industries, which constitute
not more than 35-40 percent of Plan expenditures.
• Almost 60-65 percent of Plan outlays in the so-called
‘gender unrelated’ sectors remain outside the purview
of the GB exercise. The biggest methodological
challenge is to unravel the ‘general’ or gender unrelated
sector expenditures like Public Works, Water Supply
and Sanitation, Forest, Irrigation, Power, Ports and
Transport, for which it is difficult to disaggregate the
beneficiaries by gender.
• This indeed is a very unsatisfactory situation and
appears to get bogged down in a number crunching
game of ‘guessestimating’ financial flow of resources
to women in the absence of reliable gender
disaggregated data.
Moving Towards a More Pragmatic Approach: Kerala Budget
• Given the difficulties of assessing the resource flow to women
from schemes as presently written up, in particular those not
specifically meant for women from the budgetary / plan data, it
becomes essential to provide Department officials with simple
guidelines for making gender sensitive write-ups for schemes in
women related and unrelated sectors (checklists I, II and III
prepared by Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI are
helpful and adequate).
•What becomes clear therefore is that the Gender Budgeting
exercise needs to be done at more than one level:
• At one level is the need to make the financial data more
reliable and proximate the actual flow of resources to women
which we should continue to do primarily through improving
project/scheme proposal write-ups in the Budget/Plan and if
possible field level monitoring.
• It is imperative to check that the flow of resources to women is
not declining over time. Ofcourse there is the ‘women’ vs
‘gender’ issue; expenditures that are targeted at women may
not necessarily advance gender equity, but we leave it aside for
the time being
At another level is to focus on programmes rather than finances
and to then ensure that funds are made available for these schemes.
This means we need to plan (a) women specific projects in women
unrelated sectors to visibilise them in all sectors of development;
and (b) to plan new initiatives in gender related sectors depending
on women’s priorities as perceived in the specific context of a
•For instance it was decided that in this year, 2010-11, a major focus
would be on women friendly infrastructure. The government of
Kerala was investing heavily in infrastructure, especially in the wake
of the global financial and economic crisis; how do we corner some
of these resources for women.
•We know that women too need infrastructure, not just roads,
bridges, flyovers, deep port terminals etc but basic amenities
when they travel or where they work; a safe/secure environment
at home and in public places; water, sanitation, fuel and housing
providing them support to participate in paid work.
It is in this context that a major scheme for women was
formulated covering even sectors normally excluded from a GB
exercise but which are linked with women’s potential for paid
work and reducing the burden of unpaid work, with
commendable cooperation from the State Departments: Gender
Friendly Infrastructure- both Physical and Social (including
skill development). The scheme in which Kerala State Road
Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Public Works Department
(PWD), Police, Ports, Housing, as also Health, Social Welfare
and IT sectors play a crucial role
1.Education,sports, art and culture
2. Education, sports, art and culture
2.Medical, public health, family welfare 3.Medical, public health, family welfare
4.Urban development
5.Information and publicity
3.Labour and labour welfare
6.Labour and labour welfare
4.Welfare of SC/ST/OBC
7.Welfare of SC/ST/OBC
6.Animal husbandry
9.Animal husbandry
8.Community development
11.Community development
13. Power
10.Social security and welfare
17.Social security and welfare
• 100 percent women specific schemes accounted for 5.6
percent of total Plan Budget; this has risen to 8.5
percent with the additional funding in 2010-11 and
went upto almost 10 percent in 2011-12 Budget.
Needless to state this was possible due to the full
support from the Departments.
• Our attempt was at mainstreaming gender across
sectors and make them more visible- all the schemes
were in their respective Departments and we were able
to crack open the gender unrelated sectors
• This exercise could be strengthened by arguing for including
targets not only for monetary aggregates and policy
instruments for achieving them but also targets for human
development aggregates and policy instruments for delivering
them in all programmes.
• Another question we could frame is: Has the interdependence
between productive and reproductive economy taken into
• The key issues we need to address in attempts to engender
macro economic policy reforms is the one sided emphasis by
policy makers on paid work in the productive economy and a
negelct of unapid work in the reproductive economy.
• The budget therefore, has proven a useful place to start work
on engendering macroeconomic policy because gender
concerns are more visible in fiscal policy than in monetary
policy. Since budgets have an annual cycle, this focus also
allows the processes of analysis, problem identification,
implementation of corrective measures, and monitoring and
evaluation of impacts to be completed within a relatively short
time. The government has to have a commitment to the process.
In Kerala this was announced in the Budget speech of the FM
and a willingness to accept women centric programmes were
evident in the allocation of resources in each year’s Budget.
• Such an initiative is critical to engendering Planning/Budget
Debbie Budlender et al (2002):Gender Budgets make Cents:
Understanding Gender Responsive Budgets, Gender Affairs Dept,
Commonwealth Secretariat, London.(also Make More Cents).
Ministry of WCD (2011): Report of Sub-group V of Working Group on
Women’s Agency and Empowerment for the 12th Five Year Plan on
Gender Mainstreaming and Effective Accountability Mechanisms
Yamini Mishra (2011): Breaking New Frontiers for Gender Responsive
Budgeting, The Kerala Model, South, East and South East Asia, UN
Diane Elson (1994)Micro, Meso, Macro:Gender and Economic Analysis
In the Context of Policy Reform in (ed)Isabella Bakker, The Strategic
Silence:Gender and Macro Policy, Zed Books.
Mridul Eapen et al (2008): Introduction to Gender Budgeting: A Gender
Responsive Analysis of Kerala Budget 2008-09,State Planning Board and
Gender Advisory Board, Trivandrum. Exercise continued for 2009-10,
2010-11 and 2011-12