Gender Responsive Budgeting Initiative

In 2013 GEWAL spearheaded the first gender-responsive budgeting initiative (GRBI) in South Africa. The report focuses on key economic and social matters that are often overlooked or obscured in conventional budget and policy analysis and decision-making, and brings together two issues that are not commonly associated: gender equality and public financial management.

The tenet is simple: to incorporate gender equality principles into all stages of the budget process.

However, this calls for leadership, strong gender policies and adequate public resources for effective implementation. Furthermore, both gender policy and gendered public budget allocations require multi-stakeholder engagement and oversight if they are to effectively transform the lives of women.

The initiative was adopted by the South African parliament in 2019. In continuing the work of multi-stakeholder engagement, the Centre aims to ensure democratic participation in the distribution of public funds.


One of the initiative’s key outputs was the publication of a diagnostic gender-based review of government’s Health, Trade and Industry, Energy, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries departments. The review was set up to assess the extent to which gendered priorities were articulated in these departments. It sought to determine whether there were adequate institutional frameworks and capacity to implement gender responsive initiatives and to determine whether monitoring and tracking tools towards women empowerment and gender equity have been created.

Review findings

Performance across the four departments was uneven. Some departments had done significant work to mainstream gender issues into their work, while others still had much to do. The Department of Agriculture and Energy is lagging behind.

There are pockets of good practices: the departments of Trade and Industry as well as Health are doing well with budget allocations and supporting initiatives for women. However, while these budgets are responding to the needs of women, they have not been analysed in a systematic manner using GRB tools.


A lack of gender disaggregated data – a persistent barrier to effective gender responsive work across Africa.

A lack of capacity to undertake gender-responsive planning, programming and budgeting.

Gender equity, not equality, is the main focus.

Commitments that are not translated into fiscal commitments.

A lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanism (gaps in gender-sensitive targets and indicators to measure/track progress).


For the Foundation to work with these departments to ensure capacity development towards gender analysis of their budgets and application of responsive budgeting principles. The report was presented to Cabinet and approved as a working document for GRBI process.

Future Focus

The Centre for Gender Equality and Leadership is committed to continuing the initiative, focusing on

Assessing what has and has not worked;

Identifying gaps in moving forward;

Identifying potential champions, partnerships and synergies;

Defining a common strategy and establishing new commitments and shared responsibilities in the GRBI process;

Providing a platform for resource mobilisation (financial and technical) to ensure the sustainability and institutionalisation of GRB in South Africa; and

Discussing the institutional framework, management and ownership of the initiative.

What we are doing to make a difference?