Gender-Responsive Budgeting: Moving Women in China Further Along the Road to Full Equality

Marilyn Marks Rubin


Over the past 25 years, the progress toward gender equity has gained momentum in most parts of the world, and has been galvanized by significant actions taken by the international community of nations. There has also been a growing worldwide awareness that governments’ budget decisions relating to both revenues and expenditures can be critical in promoting gender equity. For example, on the expenditure side of the budget, a government’s reduction of agricultural subsidies could impact heavily on women who generally comprise the bulk of farm workers, especially in developing countries. Restoring, or even increasing, the subsidies could increase household incomes, raise agricultural production and improve the quality of life for all villagers. On the revenue side, an income tax rate reduction would primarily benefit men whose incomes are generally greater than those of women. Changing the structure of the tax reduction to, perhaps, a tax credit could result in a more equitable gender distribution of the benefits of lower taxes. Several terms including “women’s budgets,” “gender budgets,” “gender-sensitive budgets,” and “gender-responsive budgets” have been used to describe government budgets that incorporate a gender perspective. In my paper, I use the term “gender-responsive budget” (GRB) to define a government budget that explicitly integrates gender into any or all parts of the decision-making process regarding expenditures and/or revenues. I use the term “GRB initiative” to include: (1) the actual integration of a gender perspective into any or all aspects of budget decisions; and (2) an organized movement to influence government to incorporate a gender perspective into its budget decisions. Thus defined, GRB initiatives have been undertaken in more than 60 countries at the national and/or subnational levels of government. The purpose of my paper is to show how the lessons learned in these GRB initiatives can be applied in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where the equal treatment of women is a goal that has yet to be fully realized along most dimensions, including education, health, economic prosperity and political involvement.

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Chinese Public Administration Review (ISSN 1539-6754, Online ISSN 2573-1483)  is published by the Institute for Public Service at Suffolk University - Boston.