Gender Responsive Budgeting

By Elisabeth Villagomez

Gender sensitive budgeting is a tool that deals directly with the responsibility of governments to international commitments to women, namely equality in the distribution, access and funding of public resources contained in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and United Nations Word Conference on Women (Beijing platform and Beijing+5). It is also a tool that can be used to achieve other government objectives such as transparency and efficiency, but also addresses accountability as international and national commitments to human rights instruments are fulfilled at the same time that it can work towards consolidating the effectiveness of public policies and economic growth by reducing inequalities in the distribution and the impact of public resources. It is in fact a tool for effectively mainstreaming gender into almost every aspect of economic and social policy by governments and for ensuring that the adequate budgetary provisions are made.

The growing recognition that macroeconomic policy plays an important role in the outcomes affecting living standards and economic opportunities for the population in general and women in particular is behind the economic rationale for introducing a gender perspective into budgets. There are costs associated with lower output, reduced development of people’s capacities, less leisure and diminished well-being when macroeconomic policy, through its different instruments, increases inequalities instead of reducing them (Elson, 2002a). Increasing the possibilities for those who experience inequalities to have access to resources and opportunities has, consequently, positive economic effects. This can be applied to women as well as to other sectors of the population that endure inequalities. Given the importance of the budget as the key macroeconomic policy document and main policy executing tool by governments, both expenditures and revenues (fiscal policy) as well as the instruments used for each are the focus of attention when introducing a gender perspective into the budget.

Moreover, it is important to note that as such, socially determined gender roles in any given society as well as the different responsibilities and competences that are derived from these have been largely ignored in policy proposals and in their implementation in general. Conscious changes to these roles because they are regarded as unfair or as economically inefficient can be achieved through the use of specific policies which are usually associated with those achieving gender equality. Thus, both gender responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming are complementary tools that can achieve the equality objective.

The term “Gender responsive budgeting”, “Gender Budgets”, “Women’s budgets” and Budget statements for women” refer to a great variety of processes and tools which aim to enable impact evaluation of government budgets in gender terms. During the evolution of these processes, efforts have been focused on auditing government budgets in order to determine its impacts on women and girls differentiated from men and boys. In these appraisals not only expenditure (including transfers such as pensions, family benefits, etc.) is covered, but also income or revenue of government (taxes, prices of public goods including privatised goods, tariffs, etc.)

Gender advocates both inside and outside government. Coalitions, with sustained commitment and energy, can be particularly effective at driving this long-term process. Opportunities for broadening participation to ordinary citizens can help improve government accountability. In particular, research-driven advocacy, training and sensitizing, and engaging both the legislature and executive are useful and important strategies for advocating gender sensitive budgets for promoting decent living standards.

National ID Card Campaign for Home-Based Workers In Rasool Nagar, Kasur, 19 October, 2010

Home Net Pakistan in collaboration with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) arranged a National Identity Card campaign for the Home-Based Workers of District Kasur.During the campaigns 100 people benefitted and got their Identity cards. Home-Based Workers were especially focused. They were told about the importance their ID card.

State and Crisis

THIS may be a good time to begin to think about giving the economy gravely damaged by the floods a different focus.

There is a consensus building up among economists who are watching the unfolding economic situation and social disaster in Pakistan that it will take a long time for the economy to recover. Such is the extent and depth of the damage caused that the economy may not return to the path of growth for as long as five years.

In the meantime, the country will have to live on foreign aid which, given the reputation for corruption and inefficiency of the government, will be provided only grudgingly.

The international community is also looking for signals that those who govern from Islamabad are prepared to develop a strategy that, over time, will provide a firmer footing for the Pakistani economy. In order to do this Islamabad needs to think big and begin to place the economy on a different track that will provide it with dynamism.

Economists who have studied the economies that were successful in catching up with the leaders concluded that the state has a critical role to play and that that role will be different in different country situations. Alexander Gershchenkron, a Harvard University economic historian, was the pioneer of this line of thinking. He studied how France caught up with Britain as the latter took off with the help of the Industrial Revolution. Paris let the state take the lead in creating conditions that would help France to close the gap between its economy and that of Britain across the English Channel.

Germany, initially left behind by both Britain and France, developed a model in which the state encouraged close collaboration between the industrial and financial sectors. The Russians also turned to the state and allowed it to climb the commanding heights of the economy while suppressing private initiative. France and Germany succeeded in their catch-up efforts; Russia failed totally. In the 1990s, the World Bank studied the catch up efforts of the various miracle economies of East Asia and concluded that the state, once again, was heavily involved in this effort. It invested in human development; selected the “winners” for encouragement and support; and forced the financial sector to invest in the winners while allowing banks and other financial institutions to obtain cheap resources from depositors. Unlike the Soviet Union, the East Asian state did not create monopolies in the public sector. It encouraged the favoured private sector industries to compete with one another; letting the weaker companies to fail and exit.

This is the way the Koreans encouraged the development of world class firms such as Samsung and Hyundai and let weaker companies such as Daewoo to leave the scene. Initially the South Asian state also sought to place itself on the commanding heights of the economy. India did it under Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister who governed for uninterrupted 17 years. His efforts only succeeded in producing what the Indian economists themselves have called the “Hindu rate of growth” that was only marginally better than the rate of increase in population. Pakistan adopted the Indian model in the early 1970s when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to power. While Nehru had not nationalised industries and financial institutions, Bhutto brought the enterprises in these sectors under the control of the government. The unintended result of this move to enormously increase the presence of the state in the economy was that it discouraged the private sector from investing. The economy slowed down appreciably. Also the expanded state increased the opportunities for corruption by both politicians and bureaucrats. The purpose behind recalling this history is to alert the policymakers not to make some of the mistakes that disfigured the structure of the economy as they begin to reshape it to place it on a stronger footing.

The present crisis has provided some opportunities that must not be wasted. Pakistan needs to catch up with other economies of Asia. It has been left behind by India by a wide margin; even Bangladesh, once the poorer part of Pakistan, is fast catching up with what is now Pakistan. The new economy needs to be built on a number of pillars with the state playing an important role along with the private sector. What should the state do while attempting to restructure the economy and what kind of help should it secure from the international community? The world has been fully alerted to the problems Pakistan now faces. It is preparing to help. That help could be directed into not only repairing the damage that has been done by the floods. It can go beyond that. I will take up next week the question of what kind of help Pakistan should aim to solicit from the world. Today the focus will be on defining the role of state. In defining its role, the state should do what cannot be done by the private sector. This means getting involved in at least three activities.

The first of these is improving the quality of governance. This, as most observers of the scene recognise, has declined perceptibly over the last several years. Democracies have a built-in mechanism for correcting errant behaviour by throwing out the offending elected officials. But elections are spaced at intervals during which much damage can be done. Besides, in political and social systems such as Pakistan, the opportunity for making change is considerably limited. Economic dependence of much of the electorate on the elite and the continued prevalence of the “baradari” system means that it is not easy to, as the saying goes, “throw the rascals out” during elections. What is required is a built-in system of accountability that has the ability to ensure that all those who hold and exercise power are answerable to an incorruptible authority. Since the early 1990s Pakistan has experimented with different accountability systems. Unfortunately the systems put in place themselves came under the influence of political masters and became corrupt. Given this history it may be prudent to establish a commission of persons chosen by the parliament that has full authority over an institution such as the current National Accountability Bureau.

This will subject the NAB itself to the same kind of accountability that is envisaged for senior judiciary in the 18th amendment. The second activity for the state is to select the “winners” – sectors as well as enterprises within the sectors – that will be supported in order to move the economy towards greater export orientation. Agriculture including livestock is the sector that has the greatest potential in this context. It is also the one that has been hurt the most by the floods. But helping the sector to acquire dynamism will need a combination of state-supported initiatives. These include provision of subsidized credit, research and extensions, and identification of external markets. Automobiles are one other sub-sector that could be helped with emphasis on supplying to such rapidly developing industries as those in China and India. The third area of attention by the state is the one that has been talked about a great deal – development of the country’s large human resource. Here again the state and the private sector need to work together. While the emphasis should be on improving the quality and accessibility of basic education, development of skills for a modern economy must also receive considerable attention.

There are other things the state must do to help the economy out of the deep crisis in which it has plunged as result of the floods. This is a good time for the state to develop a strategy for the future.

Need Assessment of Flood Affectees

  • Safe and clean drinking water
  • Dry milk for kids
  • Security issues for women
  • Pre and post natal health issues of women
  • Insufficient food
  • Epidemics have broken out in these areas
  • Health care units are at distant places
  • Shortage of medicines
  • No capital to start their economic activities
  • Cattles drown in flood and many of them depend upon them as their major source of income
  • Education for the children IDPs
  • Cash grants
  • Microfinance loans
  • Supply of seeds
  • Fertilizers
  • Bullocks

Women Workers Union

Background of Women Workers Union

Muttahida Labor Federation is a National level federation working with formal and informal sector laborers. MLF conducted a research regarding the woman workers especially for HBWs in different districts of Punjab & found that these women workers have no right to form union, they have no facility of social security, EOBI and other worker welfare schemes. Woman workers related with different sectors are exploited by the employers and the Government as well. There is a need to form a union of these woman workers to fight for their legal & labor rights. Hence, “Woman Workers Union” was formed in June 2009 & was formally announced in July 2009. The union was announced in a convention named “Women Workers Convention”. The convention was chaired by Ms. Sherry Rehman & the office bearers of the union also took oath from her.


To form a General trade union of woman workers particularly for informal sector workers this will serve them as a platform to strive for their legal labour rights.


To recognize the informal sector workers by the Government & the Labour department as a “Worker” defined under labour laws.


  • Formation of aware and informed Woman Workers groups particularly HBWs’ groups.
  • Organization of woman workers (Formal & Informal sector) into a union.
  • Registration of HBWs in Social Security, EOBI & all other facilities provided by Workers Welfare Board.
  • Equal wages & opportunities, better working conditions & proper working hours with double overtime for women workers.
  • Active woman workers groups equipped with an art to protect their legal & social rights by coordinating other stakeholders like trade unions etc.
  • HBWs will have better understanding of Collective Bargaining Agent.

Activities of the union:

  • Convention, seminar, conferences, rallies, are arranged to highlight the issues of the woman workers especially informal sector.
  • Community meetings arranged by the WWU to inform and aware the woman labor class with their legal rights.
  • Educational training courses arrange by WWU for the office bearers and members of the union.

WWU in other Districts:

WWU is formed in 3 more districts other than Lahore in 2010 (Gujranwala, Khushab Mianwali).

Contacts in other Districts:

WWU have strong contacts in other districts of Punjab. In these districts union can form at any time like Faisalabad, Kasoor, Sheikhupura, Nankanasab, Multan, Khanewal, Chakwal, and Jehlum.

Coordination with Labor Departments:

WWU have strong coordination with the labor department for achieving their targets. Labor department own recognize the WWU and nominate the name of the office bearers of the WWU for the different governmental labor committees.

Participation on IRA consultation:

WWU actively participate in the IRA consultation in 4 districts of Punjab and give their strong recommendation from HBWs.

Issue of the LHWs:

A big number of the LHWs are the member of the union. WWU highlight their issue on every platform. And now days their issues are listened by sue motto.

Future plans:

  • Formation of the union in every district of Punjab initially
  • Formation of the Model groups of the woman workers in Nishter Town
  • Produce strong coordination with labor department and parliamentarians for lobbing

Rickshaw Campaign

Home Net Pakistan with SUNGI Development Foundation launches an awareness raising rickshaw campaign on the issue of Home Based workers and their recognition. It is a very useful tool to create awareness among the general public regarding the issue of homes based workers.

Millions of workers go without legal protection

HYDERABAD: As world prepares to celebrate the World Labour Day, millions rather billions lament their lot for not even qualifying to come under the ambit of labour laws.

Sixteen-year-old Tehmina a bangle worker is bed-ridden due to meningitis and facing disability because of the neurosurgery. The surgery has affected her left hand and leg besides slurring speech. Now, she can’t share her pool as do rest of the family, says her mother 53-year-old, Zaibunnisa.

People associated with bangle industry, hotels and working as domestics in homes, schools and private offices have no right to claim benefit as they don’t fall under Labour Laws.

There is no official data to confirm number but it runs in millions in our part of the world.

None have an access to services under labour laws as they are not allowed to form trade union and have no say in labour rights. Labour federations are trying to bring informal workers under the cover of law and once it’s done their exploitation would come to an end.

Informal workers are not organised as majority of them are busy in providing two square meals to their families and recreation or luxuries are far-fetched dreams to them. Mutton is beyond their means, and beef or chicken is a luxury which some enjoy on special occasions.

Tehmina’s condition is apt to make anyone sad as she lies on a cot without a sheet and constantly needs assistance for the slightest movement she intends to make. She needs a lot of money for consultation and medication.

Even the rights of those having access to labour laws are not safeguarded because of capitalist-dominated system where pocket unions kill economically, the working class. The government has fixed Rs6,000 as minimum wages which are not being implemented in majority of cases.

Sky-rocketing inflation is exposing these workers to many types of social ills while health-care and private education are dreams unfit for their eyes and public sector education, too awry, to describe.

Workers can be blamed for their plight as they are too hesitant to file a complaint or get themselves registered with the Workers Welfare Board, said convenor of sub-committee of National Assembly’s standing committee on labour.

Many workers federation are shy to get trade unions registered on the pretext that it lands a labour in trouble.

Secretary General, Khursheed Ahmed of Pakistan Workers Federation said that the government has done nothing in regard to IRA 2008.

“Bangle and domestic workers are most exploited class and they must be covered under law through legislation by government forthwith to check social exploitation”, he said.

The government’s decision to repeal Removal from Service (Special Power) Ordinance 2000 introduced by Pervez Musharraf was hailed by all. However, labourer federations flayed government’s plans to replace IRO 2002 with Industrial Relations Act 2008 without taking them on board. “Its poignant that while dictators always consulted labour leaders democratic government avoid them and thrust their decision on us”, said a noted labour leader, Qamoos Gul Khattak.

The government introduced Industrial Relations Act (IRA) 2008 in place of IRO 2002 for an interim period, promising more suitable amendments by April 2010 through IRA 2010. IRA 2008 would now stand expired and there had been no consultations with the workers federation. Employers and workers’ federation jointly worked out a consensus draft called “Workers Employer Bilateral Council of Pakistan” (Webcop) and submitted to the government, seeking amendments in proposed IRA 2008, including right to trade union in agricultural and informal ones except army and police.

Labour federations say that while the government has done away with some workers-friendly provisions of IRO 2002, it has also inserted some anti-workers clause. They viewed it with concern that while dictator’s name has been expunged and all those amendments are deleted why those harmful for workers’ right are kept intact.

“IRA 2008 is a rehash of 1969’s Labour Ordinance given by Ziaul Haq”, said Khattak, who is secretary general of Muttaheda Labour Federation. He referred to clauses that are done away with like appointment of appellate tribunal and the NIRC by respective chief justices, union’s affiliation with registered federation within two months of elections, punishment to employers, etc.

“When two stakeholders – employer and workers – have signed a consensus document then why the government avoids playing its role of facilitator”, he asked.

Case Study: Rafaqat Bibi, a home-based worker

Sector: Garments
Name: Rafaqat Bibi
Age: 47 years old
Education: Primary
Marital Status: widow
No of Children: One Daughter
Home based activity: Stitching
Type of worker: Piece rate
Working hours: 9 to 11
Monthly income: Rs.3000/- (US $35 approx.)


Rafaqat is a religious woman. Her husband name was Laldin. After husband’s death her old father lives with her. Now she also looks after him. She started working after her husband’s death. She faced very hard time after him. Her home was consisted of two rooms equipped with colored TV, an old air cooler and two beds as well. During the interview we found her home neat and clean. She has one daughter Iqra she is seven years old. She is school going and studying in an English medium school. Rafaqat gave birth two sons but right after the birth both of her sons died. Rafaqat told that when she got married she lived in a rented house. But after sometime she sold her ornaments of Rs. 15,000, then she took loan of Rs. 10,000 and bought her own house. She taught stitching to the girls and women lived nearby. She said that her father also lived with her after the death of her husband. When one of our team members asked about the fears in her work, she said,” There is no fear but I always get scared about my health, if my health will be damaged or effected how could I work and if I don’t work how can I run my house”.

Secondly I always use to think that could I be able to get business from the shopkeeper?”

She stitches clothes while staying at home and a shopkeeper sells the garments. She said that the shopkeeper gives her all the material and she stitches. She gets Rs. 6.00 per suit, which according to her is insufficient. She was sharing one of her complains that her income is less then the utility bills. She was telling her wish that She wants her daughter very much educated and for this purpose she is doing hard work. She showed her disappointment with this sentence that “Agar amer ghareeb k sath chaley to koi masla nahe ho sakta”(If the rich will move side by side with the poor there would be simply no problem) We felt that these people are very much disappointed by the rich community. Rafaqat is a very brave and courageous woman. The way she is tackling with the circumstances is really appreciable.