A conference on the priority issues of implementing the gender budgeting at the local level in Ukraine was held in Kyiv and attracted over 100 participants from across the country. It was also a great opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of the Gender-Responsive Budgeting (GRB) Project in Ukraine – to eat cake and raise a toast in honour of five years of successful cooperation.
Key representatives from Ukraine’s oblasts (regions), who are leading gender budget reforms at the local level, gathered in Kiev in mid-November to celebrate the Gender Budgeting in Ukraine Project’s fifth anniversary with the team, gender and financial experts, and colleagues from various line ministries. The festivities took place in the wings of a conference to discuss how Ukraine is successfully implementing a gender approach in fiscal policy and the budget process and allocating budget funds on a gender-responsive basis.
The GRB Project, which is supported by Sweden, has the main aim of introducing gender budgeting in Ukraine and supporting stakeholders both on national and oblast levels in implementing the process.
The conference, Priority Directions for the Implementation of GRB at the Local Level, hosted over 100 delegates. Representatives from Ukraine’s Ministries of Finance; Regional Development, Construction, Housing, and Communal Services; and Social Policy; as well as representatives of regional state administrations’ financial bodies; Kiev city state administration and All-Ukrainian associations of local governments; international experts from Sweden and Albania; and representatives of various international projects implemented in Ukraine attended. The delegates enjoyed the opportunity to network, learn more about state policy around gender equality and international experiences with GRB implementation, and to celebrate five years of successful cooperation and achievements.
Martin Hagström, Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine, noted in his address to the conference delegates that Ukraine is an example to the whole world in implementing GRB, and that implementing this approach at a local level is extremely valuable to the development of Ukrainian communities, as conducting the gender budget analyses that form the foundation of the GRB process makes it possible to identify uneven distribution of funds and overcome gender gaps to the benefit of all citizens.
Mr Hagström during his speech
Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing, and Communal Services Taras Tokarsky spoke in his address of his ministry’s work toward gender equality and the importance of GRB as a tool. He also brought GRB into the wider national context. “Implementations of gender budgeting is one of the priorities to achieve gender equality and is part of the Action Plan for Decentralisation,” he said, referring to the larger effort to devolve powers currently held by the State to oblasts and communities across Ukraine. In addition to this, Mr Tokarsky promised that gender experts will review all documents produced by his ministry from 2019 onwards before being issued.
In her speech, Governmental Commissioner for Gender Policy Kateryna Levchenko spoke about the national mechanism for ensuring gender equality in Ukraine and the importance of supporting the implementation of GRB at the state level: “The main principle of the implementation of modern policies is gender mainstreaming, where a gender perspective is included in all areas and at all levels. A tool like gender-responsive budgeting ensures such integration.”
Addressing the conference, Alona Babak, Member of the Verkhovna Rada (the parliament of Ukraine) and Co-Chair of the Equal Opportunities Parliamentary Caucus on Gender Equality, emphasised the strong support of the promotion of gender equality and gender budgeting at the highest level, mentioning that gender budgeting is one of the Equal Opportunities Caucus’s main priorities.
GRB Project Director Catharina Schmitz highlighted the Ministry of Finance’s significant role in implementing gender-responsive budgeting nationally: “The achievements of GRB in Ukraine would become possible due to the support of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine. It advances this process and is engaged in it at all levels. Support at governmental level helped Ukraine to become one of only 12 countries worldwide who have successfully implemented GRB.”
International experts Marie Trollvik from Sweden and Rezart Xhelo from Albania presented their countries’ experiences with implementing GRB at the local level.
Further building on five years of success, on 5 December, the GRB Project signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Fiscal Service. Under this agreement, the university will offer GRB as a subject as part of its Public Financial Management courses. This represents an important step in bringing GRB into the education process and will have an important impact on policy-makers of the future. In preparation of the implementation of this agreement, the GRB team offered an extensive training course on GRB to university lecturers. Twenty-two lecturers submitted scientific papers on GRB and were certified as GRB instructors after the signing ceremony.
The GBR topic is so high on the agenda in Ukraine these days, a special panel was dedicated to it at the second Ukranian Women Congress, the biggest event dedicated to gender equality in Ukraine. Maja Bosnic chaired the panel with Deputy Ministers of Social Policy, Regional Development and other partners.