Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, IANWGE

Inter-Agency Network on IANWGE/2002/8
Women and Gender Equality February 2002
New York, 26 February - 1 March 2002

Gender mainstreaming in budget processes

Task Manager: OSAGI

Task Force members:
DAW: Tsu Wei Chang
UNDP: Aster Zaoude
UNFPA: Wariara Mbugua
UNICEF: Kristina Goncalves
WFP: Patricia Kennedy
OSAGI/DAW: Carolyn Hannan (Task manager)


The 2001 session of IAMWGE requested the task force to:

  • Carry out five more entity case studies in the fall of 2001 and plan five more for the spring of 2002;

  • Organize a workshop (hosted by ILO in Geneva) for Europe-based entities, and explore the possibility of organizing a similar workshop in New York;

  • Prepare a synthesis report on the work of the task force to date.

UNFPA was also requested to prepare a good practice example of the institutional impact of its involvement in the project as a case study.

Intersessional activities

Two full meetings of the task force were held during the year. All other work was carried out electronically, in keeping with the guidelines for the work of IANWGE.

As a result of the positive response of members of the interagency group in February 2001 - emphasizing the process value of the case studies carried out by the task force - a further five case studies were implemented in a second project. The entities covered were ESCWA, FAO, OCHA, UNCTAD and UNICEF. A total of ten entities have now been involved in case studies and separate documents are available for each of the entities. (Those entities covered in the first project were: DPI, ESCAP, ILO, UNFPA and WHO.) Initial planning of an addition five entities was begun.

Follow-up activities were carried out by the consultants in some of the entities participating in the first project, in order to assess the impact and to get inputs for improving the process in future projects. In conjunction with work on the second project, visits were made to UNFPA, WHO, ILO and to the Programme Planning and Budget Division in the Secretariat. The recommendations made to UNFPA had been agreed upon, although not all planned follow-up within UNFPA has been carried out. In WHO the recommendations had been accepted and largely implemented, leading to considerably improved attention to gender perspectives in the 2002-2003 programme budget. The recommendations made in ILO had been accepted. The follow-up meeting in the Secretariat focused more on the gender implications - constraints and potentials - of the move to results-based planning and budgeting in the Secretariat.

An overall synthesis report of findings and recommendations to date was prepared by the task force in October 2001. A workshop on the outcomes of the work of the task force to date was hosted by ILO in Geneva in November 2001 for all Europe-based UN entities. Entities were encouraged to send budget/programme staff as well as Gender Focal Points and participation was very good. A total of 18 budget staff / programme staff attended, as well as 23 Gender Focal Points or gender specialists (including six from ILO). Presentations on efforts to bring gender perspectives to the centre of attention in development of programme budgets were made by ILO, UNCTAD, WHO and FAO. It was particularly encouraging that these presentations were made by budget/programme staff rather than the Gender Focal Points. There was an open sharing of experiences in working group sessions. The workshop was closed by the Director General of ILO, Mr Juan Somavia, who emphasized the importance of bring greater attention to gender perspectives in planning processes. A separate report from the workshop is available.

Since the planned follow-up activities to the case study in UNFPA did not take place in 2001, UNDP has postponed the prepartion of its "good practice" example until 2002.


To date the task force has produced 10 individual reports on case studies as well as a three-part report from the first project. In addition, a synthesis report outlining the findings to date has been prepared and a report from the workshop in ILO is available. A summary note on the work of the task force is also available. (See annex for full list of materials available).

A statement was presented at workshop organized by ILO in Geneva in November 2001 the by the Task Manager: "Overview of the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Gender Mainstreaming in the Programme Budget Process."

Lessons learned

Although the interagency meeting in 2001 emphasized that there was great value in the process in the individual case studies, the task force feels that the process could be even more effective and is committed to ensuring that the potential for catalytic change in the process is optimized. To date this has been constrained by a number of factors which include:

  • A stronger focus on gender mainstreaming generally rather than explicitly on gender mainstreaming in programme budgets processes, sometimes as a result of the information provided to the consultants and sometimes as a result of the focus of the consultants themselves;

  • Insufficient preparation within entities for the process;

  • Inadequate involvement of budget and programme staff in the process within participating entities.

In addition, the task force feels that the individual reports prepared for the entities participating in the case studies could be improved. It would be helpful if entities already covered could submit comments and suggestions as to how these reports could be made more useful to entities. A framework should be prepared for the preparation of these reports in the next project. Entities participating in the next project are also encouraged to actively engage in dialogue with the consultants on the draft reports to ensure a product which is useful for their entities.

  • While the individual reports may be of value for the entities concerned, there is a need for a report which provides an overview of the situation throughout the UN system. The synthesis report prepared by the task force does not meet this need. An interim progress report needs will therefore be commissioned, involving the two consultants who have the indepth knowledge of the situation within individual entities. The report will provide information, possibly in a matrix form, on the incorporation of gender perspectives in a number of key areas:
    budget instructions and guidelines;

  • overview or introduction to the programme budget;

  • subprogrammes (or related category) including expected accomplishments, indicators of achievement;

  • outputs including publications and  

  • other relevant aspects.

    In addition, the consultants will be asked to prepare a matrix on the departments of the secretariat, comparing the programme budgets for 2000 - 2001 and 2002-2003.

Discussions with the consultants, as well as the discussions within the context of the workshop in ILO, have raised the need for clarity on the role of IANWGE and the task force. The task force should play a catalytic role but cannot undertake training of the whole UN system or setting up networks of budget/programme officers. This is not part of the mandate of the task force and in addition, the task force does not have a budget and the task force members do not have the time required for these types of activities.

The lack of adequate financial resources for the work of the task force needs to be raised as a particular constraint. The work has involved significant consultant inputs, funding for which has had to be raised on a project by project basis by the task manager.

Future work of IANWGE on programme budgets

The task force has been working since February 1998 and has made a significant contribution by raising awareness of the importance of incorporating gender perspectives into programme budgets; assisting individual entities through the case studies; providing some guidance and promoting exchange on strategies and methodologies; assessing progress, documenting exerience and disseminating findings. The next stage of the process must involve individual entities building on the findings and moving the process forward within their own organizations. Exchange between individual entities or groups of entities should also be encouraged. Some such exchange was already initiated informally at the workshop in Geneva with budget officers expressing interest in exchanging experience.

The task force recommends that its work be concluded with the completion of the third project. The possibility of revisiting this work after three years (in 2006) - through an assessment of the extent to which gender perspectives are incorporated in programme budgets across the system - could be considered by the IANWGE. The work of the task force would provide a useful baseline against which to measure progress.

The task force suggests that it would now be important to focus attention on the monitoring or assessment of the implementation of programme budgets, which is undertaken by oversight bodies. A new task force could be set up in 2003 and consultants experienced in this type of work identified. To prepare for this work, members of IANWGE could be encouraged to investigate the monitoring and oversight processes and practices in their entities, as well as potential consultants to support work in this area, and to discuss this further at the next meeting of the IANWGE in February 2003.

Proposal for activities in 2002

The task force proposes that the following activities be undertaken during the coming year and that, on the completion of these activities, the task force be dissolved:

  • An interim report on the status of mainstreaming gender into programme budgets in the UN system.

  • A project to carry out ten more case studies, with individual reports prepared for each entity. A number of entities have already committed to participate: UNDP, UNCHR, ITU, WPF, and others have indicated interest.

  • Preparation of a final overall report.

  • Workshop in NY for budget staff, programme staff and Gender Focal Points to discuss the findings of the work of the task force.

  •  Final report back to the IANWGE in February 2003.

Issues for discussion by members of the Network

For entities which have already participated:

  • What were the positive and negative experiences related to participation in the case studies projects?

  • How could the process be improved so that is has more catalytic value for the entities participating?

  • In what way could the reporting be improved - through feed back at the end of visits as well as the reports themselves, or any other means?

  • How can entities prepare for the case studies in the most effective way?

  • How can the engagement of programme staff and budget staff be maintained after the completion of the case studies?

  • Is implementation of recommendations from the case studies being systematically promoted and monitored within these entities? Is yes, by whom - management or Gender Focal Points? If not, what are the constraints?

For entities which will participate in the third project:

  • What do entities hope the project will be able to provide?

  • How will they plan their participation to make the process more effective?

General questions for IANWGE:

  • What does IANWGE want to get out of the final report from the task force?

  • What kinds of follow-up by individual entities could be recommended?

  • How can greater exchange across entities on gender mainstreaming in programme budgets be encouraged - both between Gender Focal Points and programme and budget staff?

  • Once the task force has completed its work, how can the IANWGE ensure that progress in this area is systematically monitored and reported to the IANWGE?

Annex to the Report of the Interagency Task Force on Mainstreaming Gender Perspectives into Programme Budget Processes
February 2002

1. Consultants reports available

Reports prepared by Tony Beck and/or Isabella Bakker for the task force.

Project One:

Phase 1: Inventory of mainstreaming gender in budget processes in bilateral donors, NGOs, private sector and others, New York, 2000

Phase 2: Overview of the United Nations system, New York, 2000

Phase 3: Accounts and accountability: A Synthesis Report of phase 3 of the IAMWGE project on gender mainstreaming in the United Nations programme budget process, New York, 2000

Case study reports are also available on all United Nations entities involved in this project: DPA, ESCAP, ILO, UNFPA and WHO

Project Two:

Case study reports are available on all the United Nations entities involved in this project: ESCWA, FAO, OCHA, UNCTAD and UNICEF.

Interagency Meeting on Women and Gender Equality. Workshop on meeting the challenge of gender mainstreaming in the programme budget process, ILO Geneva, 22-23 November 2001. Workshop report, Geneva, 2001.

2. Materials prepared by the task force

Summary note on the work of the task force: Mainstreaming gender equality into programme budget processes within the United Nations System, 2000.

Mainstreaming Gender Perspectives in Programme Budget Processes within the United Nations System. A synthesis report on the work of the Inter-agency Task Force on Gender Mainstreaming in Programme Budget Processes, New York, 2001.

Statement prepared for the ILO workshop (November 2001) and presented by Carolyn Hannan: Overview of the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Gender Mainstreaming in the Programme Budget Process.

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