Gender Responsive Budgets

Gender Responsive

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GRB seeks to improve the results of budgets in general, and gender equality and women’s empowerment in particular. It focuses on key economic and social matters that are often overlooked or obscured in conventional budget and policy analysis and decision-making.


The economic empowerment of women remains a vital part of building inclusive, sustainable and dynamic societies.

Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) brings together two issues that are not commonly associated: gender equality and public financial management. The approach inherent in GRB is that gender equality principles should be incorporated 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 Gender Responsive Budget Initiative (GRBI) is a programme spearheaded by the Motsepe Foundation. In 2012, it was relaunched in collaboration with the Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. The programme seeks to strengthen the capacity of national, provincial and local government, planners and policymakers, gender focus groups, civil society and women’s organisations, to review, analyse and prepare provincial plans and budgets from a gender perspective.

One of the programme’s key outputs was the publication of a diagnostic gender-based sector review of four pilot Government departments: Health, Energy, Trade and Industry, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The review was undertaken to determine the country’s status with regards to gender-responsive budgeting. More specifically, it was set up to assess the extent to which gendered priorities are articulated, determine whether there are adequate institutional frameworks and capacity to implement gender responsive initiatives, and lastly, to ascertain whether monitoring mechanisms and tracking tools towards women empowerment and gender equity have been created.

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The report has been approved by the Government as a working document.


  • Performance was uneven. Some departments had done significant work to mainstream gender issues into their work, while others still had much to do.
  • While progress has been made on a number of fronts, including equality through law, there has been a consistent and growing unease with a range of matters regarding the institutional framework to support GRB process, capacity as well as monitoring and evaluation to support gender responsive work.
  • The Department of Agriculture and Energy is lagging behind.
  • There are pockets of good practices within Government, for instance, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is doing well in budget allocations and support to women initiatives and so is the Department of Health. However, while these budgets are responding to women’s needs, they cannot be said to have been analysed in a systematic manner using GRB tools.
  • Lack of gender disaggregated data – one of the persistent barriers across Africa to effective gender responsive work.
  • Lack of capacity to undertake gender responsive planning, programming and budgeting.
  • Gender equity, not equality, is the main focus.
  • Commitmentswhicharenottranslatedinto fiscal commitments.
  • Lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanism (gaps in gender-sensitive targets and indicators to measure/track progress).Based on these key findings, several crucial interventions/ recommendations were proposed. One key recommendation is 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 Women’s Unit remains committed to its gender-responsive budgeting work as a foundation pillar of women’s empowerment. A multi-stakeholder GRB technical meeting is planned in to take stock of where we are and to plan the way forward. This included:

  • assessing what has and has not worked;
  • identifying the 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; and 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.