Speech/statement | Date: 08/06/2006
The state budget is an immensely powerful instrument. We should use it actively to promote gender equality.
State Secretary Kjell Erik Øie, Ministry of Children and Equality
Gender analysis and gender budgeting: tools for economic development
6 European Ministerial Conference on Equality between Women and Men
Stockholm 8-9 June 2006
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Ministers, colleagues, fellow participants,
The state budget is an immensely powerful instrument. We should use it actively to promote gender equality. The budget is allocation of funds – which is allocation of resources and power! Using gender sensitive lenses in the budget process means to analyze and change the distribution of power and resources between women and men.
We need to be clear about what we are pursuing. How does the Norwegian Government perceive gender equality?
We need to re-allocate power!
I think the next step now must be to identify the counter-forces we are facing in this struggle. One of them is that people - read men - seldom let go economic and social power voluntary.
Another is the lack of men spending more time with their children. Men must work less overtime and spend more time at home with their children. And women must let go.
We need to create an alliance between men and women in order to achieve gender equality. In my point of view gender equality is a win - win situation.
An example of using legislation as a means towards gender equality is the Public Limited Companies Act enforced on 1 January this year in Norway. It imposes a gender balance (approximately 40/60 percent) in all privately owned public limited companies. This implies close to 500 large companies. Similar laws were already in force for wholly state owned companies.
It is important to make use of all human resources in our country, not just half of it. It’s good for business, so to speak.
Norway’s gender budgeting initiative started modestly in 2000 - inspired by the mainstreaming of environmental concerns in the Fiscal Budget.
I consider it as a great step forward that we from 2006 have anchored a requirement for gender impact assessment in the overall guidelines for the Ministries’ budget propositions. The Ministries shall report on gender based assessments in their own line budget propositions, in addition to presenting a status of gender equality among their own staff.
Guidelines for gender budgeting have been developed and disseminated to the Ministries. Its purpose is to make sure gender budgeting is implemented and followed-up in necessary budgetary areas and levels of public administration. The results of this initiative will be seen in the Ministries’ budget propositions in the coming years.
This year we have also started a three-year evaluation of the Ministries’ budgets and budgetary processes. We need to document the use and results of gender budgeting!
We do sometimes hear that this is a theoretical exercise without any concrete results. Let me therefore give you two examples:
The Ministry of Children and Equality chose to analyse the gender impact of the financial support scheme for young people at risk in big cities. The results showed that the boy-oriented projects received more funding than the girl-oriented ones. Though the mandate was gender neutral, the majority of projects appeared in practice to be more attractive to young boys than young girls. This had to be changed; one had to find measures in the municipalities to communicate with girls who were also at risk.
At the municipal level, public services were analysed with a gender perspective. A health station for young people was evaluated. The results showed that 95 percent of clients were girls. Where were the boys? It was therefore found necessary to develop innovative ways to communicate with and reach out to boys, and increase their contact and use of the health station.
These are two practical examples. Concrete results are needed to motivate and stimulate the use of gender budgeting.
Ladies and Gentlemen; let us be impatient!