Existing strategies and plans for gender equality in Serbia are often not backed up by adequate financing and are not a regular part of government institutions’ planning processes. This significantly undermines progress on gender equality. Gender-responsive budgeting represents a powerful tool which comprehensively assesses gender gaps and identifies actions to close them.
New provisions of the Budget System Law adopted in mid-December 2015 introduced gender-responsive budgeting as mandatory for all budget users at national, provincial and local level as of 2020. According to this, all programme budgets have to include gender goals and gender-sensitive indicators, which will be used to measure the contribution to gender equality.
UN Women in Serbia works to make gender equality central to planning and budgeting for national development and EU accession. UN Women also works to strengthen the institutional mechanisms established to coordinate and drive forward the gender equality agenda.
To combat a gap in the implementation of policies and strategies, UN Women advocates for transparent and adequate public financing that strengthens gender equality mechanisms at all levels of government and for gender-responsive budgets that channel adequate resources to both women and men.
UN Women in Serbia promotes gender-responsive policy-making and budgeting at national, provincial and local levels and work to mainstream gender into public processes and prioritise efforts to hold governments accountable for achieving their gender equality objectives.
UN Women in Action in Serbia
In Serbia, UN Women introduced gender-responsive budgeting in 2015. We cooperate with the Ministry of Finance and the Coordination Body for Gender Equality to position the budgeting system so it responds to both women’s and men’s needs, and enable the government to respond to their gender equality commitments more comprehensively and report on their impact. We also support the Provincial Secretariat for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality and the Provincial Secretariat of Finance so they adopt gender-responsive budgets that channel adequate resources to both women and men.
So far, we trained more than 580 civil servants to implement gender-responsive budgeting and monitor their gender equality commitments. 49 out of 78 line ministries and institutions at the national and provincial level will reflect gender equality considerations in their 2018 budgets. Furthermore, we supported Women Members of Parliament and gender experts to act as monitors of state allocations to gender equality through gender-responsive budgeting trainings.
UN Women is also partnering with the Serbian Ministry for European Integration and the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit to provide pre-EU accession technical expertise to government counterparts to enhance their understanding and attention to gender equality issues in European integration processes.
The key partners for UN Women in strengthening gender-responsive national planning and budgeting processes on gender equality, but also in all of its work in Serbia, are the institutional mechanisms on gender equality. In February 2015, UN Women entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Coordination Body for Gender Equality, which was established in October 2014 by the Government of Serbia to coordinate national gender equality actions. Under the MoU, UN Women cooperates with the government to:
- Develop the Coordination Body’s capacities;
- Support key strategic goals with a focus on women’s economic empowerment;
- Develop strategic and policy documents;
- Support participatory dialogue with key stakeholders, including civil society organizations.
Under the MoU, UN Women is supporting the process of evaluation of the five-year long National Strategy and Action Plan for Gender Equality and Improving the Status of Women 2010-2015 with the aim of serving as a basis for the development of new strategy and plan.
At the provincial level, UN Women since 2008 has supported the executive level gender mechanism at the Provincial Secretariat for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality. Current support focuses on strengthening the Secretariat’s leading role in introducing gender budgeting in all provincial government bodies and in implementing a provincial program to combat violence against women in the family.
Through the European PROGRES project, UN Women supported the establishment of ten local Women’s Councilors Networks (WCNs) and enhanced their capacities for effective advocacy for gender equality and women's rights at the local level.
WCNs raised awareness about municipal gender equality commitments and legal obligations of parliamentarians in gender mainstreaming of policies and laws among women and men councilors.