Budgeting for gender equality in Turkey

How would life be different if women’s needs were taken into account when planning public spending?

A lot, as the women and men of Eskişehir, a city in Central Anatolia, are finding out.

The phrase “gender responsive budgeting” may sound like a mouthful, and it may appear to be a new or abstract concept to some; but it actually has a major effect – not just on women or other vulnerable populations, but on everyone.

Clarity in parity

Gender responsive budgeting means bringing a gender perspective to planning and budgeting processes. It’s about taking into account the needs and priorities of both women and men.

Highlights

  • Gender responsive budgeting has become part of the Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality strategic plan. Four indicators on gender responsive budgeting have been incorporated into this plan.
  • An equality unit was established within the municipality.
  • UNDP is the administrative agent and one of the implementing partners together with UN Women and Sabancı University, a Turkish private university. Sabancı Foundation is the main donor and cooperating institutions are the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies and the Turkish Union of Municipalities.

It does not mean an increase in the public spending or developing separate budgets for women and men.

It does mean asking whether public spending improves or worsens the gender equality in places it is implemented. In other words, gender responsive budgeting is the tool to realize and implement the gender equality commitments.

The Eskişehir experience

As one of Turkish metropolitans, Eskişehir is not free from common gender inequalities in Turkey especially in terms of service provision and budget allocation for women’s needs.

These problems are accompanied with the low levels of public awareness on gender equality as well as women’s human rights which as a result restricts women’s equal participation to social life.

Gender Responsive Budgeting approach relies on addressing these challenges caused by gender inequality, makes the needs of women more visible and sets goals in strategic planning and public spending of the local authorities to solve the challenges.

Hale Kargın Kaynak is from Eskişehir and she works for the Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality. When the local actors in Eskişehir wanted to do more about bringing gender perspective not only to policy-making but also to budgetary processes, she joined them.

Eskişehir was one of the cities where UN Joint Programme for Promoting the Human Rights of Women has been implemented since 2012 to support local actors addressing these challenges. Under the Gender Responsive Budgeting Component of the UN Joint Programme which has been carried out by UN Women capacity development activities for municipalities, CSOs and women studies centers of universities have been delivered in 11 pilot provinces including Eskişehir. Those activities stimulated discussions and cooperation among municipality staff and women activists to analyze, develop and monitor local plans and budgets using gender responsive budgeting skills, knowledge and tools.

Local actors decided to take this collective action into another level in their city and applied for the Grant Programme of the UN Joint Programme:

  • First to deepen their knowledge about gender responsive budgeting,
  • Then to give trainings to the local CSOs, institutions and citizens about this concept
  • Even further, to attempt to get more sustainable results.

Eventually, they established Eskişehir Equality Platform, composed of 34 people from different institutions in Eskişehir who monitor the policy implementations and budgetary activities of local public institutions in Eskişehir. The platform then created tools and local partnerships to incorporate gender responsive budgeting into their work.

Hale Kargın Kaynak talks about how this platform works: “In spring and fall, in other words every six months, this platform arranges monitoring visits to municipalities. We agreed to this with three local municipalities in Eskişehir but the numbers will increase. The Platform will inform the municipalities in advance on which issues they will be monitoring and send some challenging questions for them to respond. Then, they will go and oversee how the municipality performed regarding gender responsive budgeting.”

Results

  • Platform functions with a well-established common working principles and it continues to enable a more effective cooperation between public institutions, universities and CSOs in Eskişehir to achieve their common goal which is promoting gender equality at the local level.
  • Gender responsive budgeting has become part of the Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality strategic plan. Four indicators on gender responsive budgeting have been incorporated into this plan.
  • An equality unit was established within the municipality.

Of course, the work is far from done. To transform those achievements into sustainable changes for providing women’s equal participation within social life, institutionalization appears to be the next step.

In Eskişehir, synergy has been created between two components of the UN Joint Programme: UNDP’s Grant Programme and UN Women’s Gender Responsive Budgeting Programme. The achieved results have been the product of this synergy.

As the platform in Eskişehir works towards the future, Hale talks about the overarching vision: “If I see a Department on Women’s Policies established in our municipality, then I will be happier. I would want this department to be filled with people working actively on gender equality. This department would work right-based only.”

 

Notes:

 

1. UNDP is the administrative agent and one of the implementing partners together with UN Women and Sabancı University, a Turkish private university. Sabancı Foundation is the main donor and cooperating institutions are the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies and the Turkish Union of Municipalities.

 

 

2. Two projects were implemented in Eskişehir supported by the Grant Programme. First one was called ‘Trainings on Gender Responsive Budgeting” implemented in 2013 and then they applied in 2014 with a second project called ‘Strengthening Eskişehir Equality Platform” to sustain their achievements in the first project. These projects were implemented with the cooperation of local actors namely Eskişehir Soroptimist Club Business and Professional Women's Association, Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, Eskişehir Osmangazi University Women’s Studies Implementation and Research Center, Anadolu University Women’s Studies Implementation and Research Center.

 

 

3. The Grant Programme was initiated in 2012 to make gender equality a reality also at the local level. The Grant Programme support CSOs, Universities that have a discipline or center in gender studies or local administration to improve their individual and institutional capacities. It have reached out 20 CSO in 10 cities so far. As the implementing agency of the Grant Programme, UNDP provides monitoring for the all projects at a day-to-day basis, both in administrative and substantive manner and ensures the grants are implemented through a gender lens.

 

 

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