Gender’s Role in Palestinian Budgeting Strategies: A Legal Encounter

A budget is not only a significant component in any development process, but also reflects on a nation’s policies, priorities and values. Budgeting itself is perceived as the allocation of financial resources for different needs within society. Experts who advocate for Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) argue that there are gender-specific differences, which should be taken into account.

The Palestinian Government officially started to apply GRB in 2009 and subsequently passed a resolution to form the National Committee for Gender Responsive Budgeting in 2012. What progress was made since these steps were taken? Which challenges do leading GRB advocates from the Civil Society face in their daily work and which steps does the government take towards further progress? To address these and many other questions the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL) invited relevant parties from both, governmental institutions and civil society to open a debate on the status of Palestinian GRB policies.

Nasr Abd Alkarim, economist and the leading Palestinian research expert in the field, emphasised the importance of GRB for sustainable, economic development. His research findings show that the most effective strategy is to prioritize Gender Responsive Planning as a first step: “If the government engages in program-based planning and the programs are sensitive to gender issues, this will, in turn, lead to gender responsive budgets and help sustainable growth.” According to Abd Alkarim the Ministry of Social Affairs should lead this processes while the Ministry of Finance has to retain a logistic role.

The civil society representatives and Professor Abd Alkarim agreed on the necessity of a database, assessing the populations needs based on their gender, age and geographic differences. Next to asking for greater efforts from the government, Sama Awidah, from the Women’s Studies Center, expressed her wish for closer cooperation between different civil organizations, considering their shared objectives and concerns. The second session of the event provided room for comparing international experiences, as Catharina Schmitz, Managing Director of the Swedish consulting company Indevelop, presented a case study on Ukrainian GRB project.

The participants agreed that in order to make Palestinian GRB more efficient, several challenges have to be addressed, leading the list are weak political determination, the wider marginalization of gender issues in face of other priorities and the absence of a concrete road map for the process. While Palestinian policy makers have a long way ahead to make sure that their budgets suit the gender specific needs of their diverse constituencies, the symposiums held by the KAS and the IOL gathered actors from various fields who expressed their commitment to keep leading GRB efforts Palestine.