The Swedish Women’s Lobby was founded in 1997 and has been promoting gender budgeting ever since. We build our advocacy work for gender budgeting on the undertakings made by Sweden and other countries in the Beijing Declaration for Action and the Treaty of Amsterdam. Their aim is to integrate women’s perspectives into all political, economic and social processes, locally as well as internationally.
In 2005, after pressure from feminist politicians and the women’s movement, the Swedish parliament adopted a progressive gender equality bill that included strong commitments to gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting. From that moment and on, the Swedish Women’s Lobby has tried to monitor the implementation and outcome of gender budgeting.
Every year we conduct a gender equality review of the state budget bill. The reviews have different themes each year, for example we have studied austerity measures, income tax deductions and investments in birth- and pregnancy care. Irrespective of the theme, we will always come back to three questions:
1. Is gender equality mainstreamed throughout the budget?
2. Will the proposed investments benefit women and men equally?
3. Will the budget, in total, lead to greater gender equality?
We use different methods in our reviews, but we usually start of by searching for key words like wom, girl and gender equal* in the budget. The number and distribution of hits will be an indication of the level of mainstreaming, many hits that are evenly spread out suggests that the budget is gender mainstreamed and vice versa. Next, we analyse when, where, and how women and gender equality is addressed in the budget. We want to find out if differences in the distribution and outcomes of investments are shown, properly analysed and countered with sufficient actions.
The results from our reviews are summarized in brief online comments, or, when we have enough resources, in written reports. If we have managed to put together a written report, we will organize an event to which we will invite the minister of finance to comment on our findings. We also try to get as much media coverage as possible, most years we will be invited to comment on the budget bill oin national television.
The secret behind getting media coverage, at least for us, has been to follow the ordinary news cycle. In the days ahead of the release of the state budget all news outlets are reporting on economic and budgetary issues, which makes it the perfect time to reach out to media contacts and ask if they want to know more about the women’s movements and economic policy proposals.