EWL pushes Gender Budgeting through project “Chanelling Resources to Women’s Rights in Europe”

Members of the EWL Gender Budgeting expert group in front of the main entrance to EP in Brussels

Lobbying to be intensified with the new European Parliament and Commission

During our work to represent International Alliance of Women (IAW) in the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) in Brussels Arina Angerman (IAW delegate, member of working group Women in Politics, current board member of EWL) and me (proxy, observer, since 2018 member of the EWL working group on Feminist Economy) during program planning and reviewing processes insisted for long that Feminist Economy and Gender Budgeting should become a multi-annual area of action. In 2017 it was adopted as a goal from 2018 on. Gender Budgeting especially shall be implemented in the European Union (EU) through the EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2020-2027.

The EWL Feminist Economy working group started working drafted the ‘PURPLE PACT. A FEMINIST APPROACH TO THE ECONOMY’ June 2018 to December 2019. For its release, we awaited the European Parliament (EP) and European Commission (EUComm) to be in place. In February 2020 we will have an online meeting to discuss the dissemination and further steps round activism with it. The EWL will use it as a lobby paper or for a pledge campaign so Members of the EP (MEPs) and Commissioners could sign up as to show their commitment. THE PURPLE PACT is a living document and proofs our feminist claim and vision for a caring economy in Europe of Social Justice, Human Rights including Gender Equality and Peace. I hope, once it is published IAW will make use of it as a model for an own IAW version which than has to encompass a global perspective for our IAW membership.

In 2019 EWL got approval for project funds from the CHANEL FOUNDATION which allows to work on the above program priorities: More finances for Gender Equality to women and women’s organisations with the tool of Gender Budgeting to adjust the budget frameworks and programs of the European Union (EU) to achieve Gender Equality by tailored and proper assessed budgets, to make budgets tax payers finances work clockwise around the budget year as an ongoing evaluation and adjustment process for women’s human rights. The PURPLE PACT will help to not only focus on social objectives but as well to define economic change by having objectives and indicators.

For the activities around Gender Budgeting (GB) the EWL set up a GB expert group at the GA 2018.

Not only is Gender Budgeting since the PfA Beijing 1995 and more specific since its first review in 2000 an obligation of UN and EU member states as part of the agreed Gender Mainstreaming strategy. The European Parliament confirmed soon after Beijing+5 in 1997 with its decision for Gender Mainstreaming that Gender Budgeting is part of this important strategy.  The Amsterdam Treaty and later some Roadmaps for the EU listed it as a goal. In a whole bunch of documents including of the Council of Europe and almost all Agreed Conclusions of the United Nations Commission Status of Women or the SDGs states rhetorically express commitment.  But real work done fell short.  Right after the PfA-Beijing+5 review UNIFEM -today UN WOMEN- succeeded in 2000 to get the EU Finance Ministries to commit Gender Budgeting would be implemented no later than 2015 in the European Union. This benchmark was parallel to the Millennium Development Goal’s (MDGs) deadline of objectives. We all were left with nothing but disappointment.

Meanwhile, we women around the globe never gave up to pressure, monitor, consult and create examples of Gender Budgeting, often on various municipality or Federal state or Province levels while the national governments or parliaments did not decide such policies even they had sign up for on international or regional level agreements.

The EWL project is now creating a great chance fueled by resources to build a dialogue with EU decision makers of the EP and of stakeholders in the EU institutions for Gender Budgeting within the European Union’s annual and multiannual programs as the MFF, but also to obligate each EU member state to finally operationalise it on national level.

May 2019 the Gender budgeting expert group was nominated. EWL’s first serve was the Helsinki Capacity building seminar, 09./10. May. It was open for participation EWL wide. For IAW Jocelynne Scutt (member of the EWL Violence Against Women Observatory) joined it. As a member of the EWL GB  expert group, I was extremely happy since after Janet Veitch presentation her contribution was so important because we plan as one priority of Gender Budgeting to make our finances (and measures) work more efficient for the elimination of Violence Against Women and the rehabilitation of survivors and their needs.

Result of the Helsinki event was more networking around this approach within EWL membership, more knowledge, a collection of identified issues, objectives, and indicators we would like to see used in an EU. Additional we saw a lot of strong support of women and institutions of Finland,- progressive women lead driver in the current EU.

The EWL gender budgeting expert group was prepared for the first moment when new MEPs were in Brussels for a breakfast meeting with them on Gender Budgeting and to identify when and how we could apply it best to the MFF and the annual budget of the EU.

On 20. of November the EWL event was attained by key decision makers as Margarida Marques, MEP (S&D, Portugal, Vice-Chair BUDG Committee, Co-rapporteur of MFF) who was like Alexandra Geese, MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany, Member of BUDG Committee, Substitute of REGI Committee- Regional Development, shadow rapporteur on “Opinion on draft general budget of the EU for the financial year of 2020” the co-host of our EWL event. Other participating MEPs who are in budget committees were Elisabetta Gualmini (S&D, Italy), Clotilde Armand (Renew Europe, Romania), Rasmus Andressen (Greens/EFA, Germany), Vera Tax (S&D, Netherlands), Jens Geier (S&D, Germany) and Maria Manuel Leitão Marques (S&D, Portugal), some representatives of PES and members of the GD Budget and GD Justice of the European Commission.  In summary all in the room after a EWL’s presentations, a dialogue of Q & A with the gender EWL experts expressed support. Some measures and entry point were identified. Some MEPs said that they will organise a hearing and want to get the issue into the  midterm budget review in summer 2020.

During the de-briefing it was found by EWL officers and the expert group that the event was a success to build on. There is a list of activities on our EWL To-DO-List and when the EP and EU Commission is now back to normal you will hear soon more from this exiting work.

Photo by Jessica Nguyen, EWL: Speaker: Margarida Marques, MEP, opening the EWL Breakfast Meeting, 20.11.2019 on “Gender Budgeting- Shaping Budgets to Promote gender Equality” 

EWL Office – Those having organised the 1. EWL Gender Budgeting event in EP, Nov 2019

Mary Collins, EWL Senior Policy and Advocacy Coordinator

Jessica Nguyen, EWL Policy and Advocacy Intern

Stefania Francescon, EWL Programme Manager

Asha Allen, EWL Policy and Campaigns Officer

EWL Gender Budgeting Expert Groups 2018-2019

Jenny Anderson, Swedish Women’s Lobby

Marion Böker, International Alliancen of Women

Ana Sofia Fernandes, Portugese Platform for Women’s RIghts, Vice President EWL

Elisabeth Klazer, Indeendent Consultant, Austria

Dina Loghin, Romanian Women’s Lobby

Emma Rich, UK Joint Committee on Women, Scottland

Janet Veitch, UK Women’s Budget Group