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Gender Analysis of Expenditure Project

In 2003/04 WBG members acted as technical advisors to a joint Treasury/Department of Trade and Industry pilot project to ‘test the feasibility and added value of gender analysis of expenditure’.

The project involved a gender analysis of two programmes funded by the Small Business Service; a programme to provide support for small enterprises in disadvantaged areas and among groups that were under-represented in business ownership and a mentoring project for start-up businesses. The pilot also analysed the New Deal for Lone Parents and the New Deal for people aged over 25.

WBG debated the pros and cons of this. We were concerned that accepting funding from the Treasury might jeopardize our independence. But we also saw this as an important opportunity to learn from the inside how government evaluated expenditure programmes and how gender analysis might be incorporated. So, we agreed to a specific, limited project, that examined one programme in each of two government departments.

Unfortunately, civil servants tended to regard the project as an unwelcome addition to their workloads and their participation was sporadic. They tended to think that their department already treated women and men equally and saw no need for additional gender analysis. We learned that the enthusiasm of the official who championed the project and the agreement of two ministers to the project did not mean that participating officials would share this commitment.

We also learned that many officials did not really understand what gender analysis means.

We learned that looking at programmes in isolation prevented us from looking at the bigger picture. We could not analyse what areas of expenditure were increasing, what areas were falling, what new initiatives were needed to reduce gender inequality. Officials did not see the need to go beyond counting how many women and how many men participate in a programme, in relation to their numbers in the target group. They agreed on a need to collect this data and argued that in many cases they already were doing so.

This project did not lead to the government undertaking and publishing a gender impact assessment of government budgets – this would have required much stronger political leadership. The project did help WBG to realize the importance of looking at the cumulative impact of budgets, and the adequacy of funding, as well as the distribution of funding between women and men.