The Government of Ukraine has been working toward gender equality for over 20 years. Equal rights for men are women are constitutionally protected in Ukraine and several laws and regulations around gender have been passed since the Constitution’s adoption in 1996. However, like the rest of the world, Ukraine is in a situation where there is a disconnect between policy and real practice on the ground, in which gender stereotyping, direct and indirect discrimination, and gender-based violence continue despite the legal environment.
The introduction of gender-responsive budgeting in Ukraine
Gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) is a powerful tool in the continued battle to bring about gender equality, but also in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of public spending. The process of GRB recognises that the application of government spending can either bring a country’s population closer to gender equality or widen the disparity between genders. As such, GRB requires the collection of data on various aspects of society from a gender point of view so that the government can make an informed decision about how to apply spending in a way that promotes gender equality.
In 2012, Swedish Government through Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) launched pilot projects in the Ivano-Frankivsk and Lugansk oblasts (regions) aimed at showcasing the benefits of GRB to government stakeholders and popularising the process. As a result of the successes seen in these pilot areas, the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine officially requested bilateral cooperation with Sweden to facilitate the national introduction of gender-responsive budgeting in February 2013.
The project Gender Budgeting in Ukraine (also known as the GRB Project) was launched in November 2013 and will run until December 2020. A consortium comprising NIRAS (as lead) and CPM were contracted to handle the implementation.
Bringing GRB onto the national stage
The GRB Project was designed to run concurrently on the national and oblast state levels to improve the understanding of GRB and to encourage its implementation in all levels of the Ukrainian government.
At ministry level, the project is responsible for:
- supporting production of methodology and other legislative documents and changes to ensure GRB is fully institutionalised in Ukrainian budget process;
- establishing, facilitating, and training an institutionalised, ministry-level working group comprising members of various ministerial, state, and other stakeholders, which is tasked with developing an action plan for the introduction of GRB in Ukraine and considering an official government statement on impact of budget funds to gender equality;
- doing capacity building and other trainings for all stakeholders (Ministry of Finance; all line ministries and agencies; members of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament; the media; and NGOs) on the introduction of GRB in Ukraine;
- and facilitating and supporting a selected number of line industries in assessing the current legal framework and regulations under their competencies, and in creating sectorial action plans for GRB implementation.
At local level, the project is responsible for:
- establishing processes and documents for GRB introduction in all oblasts of Ukraine;
- providing in-depth trainings for GRB working groups in all oblasts and supporting them in analysing budget programmes from a gender perspective and improving these programmes;
- introducing gender budgeting at municipality level in the Amalgamated Territorial Communities.
Furthermore, the project is developing a single GRB methodology that will be used at the state and local levels in Ukraine. This methodology will be integrated into Ukraine’s Public Finance Management System and will ensure that budget decisions at both state and local level are taking the needs of women and men into account. The GRB Project also takes care to maintain the linkage between ministries and the oblasts and other stakeholders, such as the Rada, universities, NGOs, and the media.
This approach creates a sense of ownership among those involved in creating the budget at all levels, which improves the chances of a long-term and widespread adoption of the gender-responsive budgeting process. Furthermore, gender equality becomes a part of an overall objective of the budgetary process, which is in turn beneficial in terms of the efficient allocation of resources, positive impacts on various sectors of society, and sustainable economic growth.
Progress towards GRB adoption
Most of the GRB Project’s implementation period was spent on supporting ministries and oblasts in conducting gender-based analyses (GBAs) of programmes funded by local and national budgets. To date, 116 programmes were analysed (31 at state level, 85 locally); GBAs have been completed on national and local programmes in a number of sectors, including education, healthcare, social protection and social security, youth policy, physical training and sports, culture and arts.
Various recommendations for gender-related improvements to programmes and processes based on the results of the GBAs have been provided to several departments of the State Statistics Service and the Ministries of Finance, Education and Science, Health, Youth and Sports, Social Policy, Culture, and Defence. Several changes have taken place because of these recommendations, resulting in a more transparent budgeting process and budget programmes becoming more focused on meeting the needs of men and women.
Over 2,000 civil servants have benefitted from trainings and project consultations on GRB and are now in the process of amending programmes and budget documents to close gender gaps.
The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine included GRB in the Public Finance Management Reform Strategy (2017–2021) as an integral part of programme budgeting at the national and local levels. GRB was also included in the General Directions of the Budget Policy for 2018–2020. In addition to this, the GRB methodology that was developed by the project has been issued as an Order of the Ministry of Finance: Order on Methodological Recommendations on Gender Budgeting for All Ministries and Agencies in Ukraine. This means that as of January 2019, all the ministries and agencies of Ukraine should analyse their budget programmes to assess their impact on women and men as well as gender equality more broadly.
Because of the collective efforts at all levels of government and due to the achieved results, Ukraine is now ranked as one of the best practical illustrations of excellent work on GRB.
Find out more about the GRB Project.