UN Women in Action: Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) at a Glance in Kosovo
Although Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) is a new initiative for Kosovo its practice and aspiration to act as a transformative instrument for addressing socioeconomic, political and cultural gender inequalities are embedded in the legal and policy framework in Kosovo. This has been achieved with the support of international organisations as well as through the activism of civil society organisations.
GRB is rooted in the Kosovo Constitution, which recognises gender equality as a fundamental value for the development of a democratic society. Recognition of international norms, such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), supersedes the role of the national legal framework. The Kosovo Law on Gender Equality of 2015 calls for the application of gender budgeting and parity access in the allocation and spending of public resources through gender mainstreamed policies, while the Kosovo Programme for Gender Equality elaborates the national gender equality policies.
The first full Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was developed in 2005, covering the period 2006–2008. As of 2008, the preparation of the MTEF has been a legal requirement in Kosovo. Yet Kosovo still scores low on, among others, ‘policy-based budgeting’, which indicates that the adoption of a medium-term perspective to budgeting has yet to be developed. Between 2014 and 2015, the Kosovo Ministry of Finance introduced the application of GRB as a core principle of the annual budget planning first at the municipal level and latter at the level of central public institutions. This was included in the 2015/01 Annual Budget Circular for municipalities and in the 2016/02 Annual Budget Circular. The reflection of GRB in the 2015 Budget Circular for municipalities came as a result of an initiative by civil society in Kosovo.
Nonetheless, under the leadership of the Agency for Gender Equality and with the support of donors, such as Sida, GIZ, UN Women and the European Institute for Gender Equality, and in cooperation with the Kosovo Agency of Statistics and the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers Kosovo has been able to introduce systemic and institutional gender mainstreaming. Furthermore, GRB tools such as gender impact assessment of all regulatory frameworks, gender analysis, gender statistics and partial calculations of the Kosovo Gender Equality Index are being put to use. Currently the Kosovo GRB regulatory framework is under development. Implementation of GRB in Kosovo is guided by the principles of transparency and accountability.
GRB legislative framework in Kosovo
The Law on Gender Equality in Kosovo set out the obligatory requirement to include gender budgeting in all areas. It was seen as a necessary tool for guaranteeing that the principle of gender equality is respected during the collection, distribution and allocation of resources. In 2015, the Kosovo Assembly approved the new Law on Gender Equality. The law requires the gender mainstreaming of all policies, documents and legislation, including gender analysis, and explicitly mentions GRB as both a legal concept and a legal requirement. In 2014, the Ministry of Finance introduced GRB application as a core principle of annual budget planning at the municipal level. Its application as a regulatory instrument within the budget planning process for all municipalities in Kosovo was required in the Annual Budget Circular 2015/01 for municipalities, which was later set out in the Annual Budget Circular 2016/02. The new circular required all central level public institutions to apply GRB as a core principle of annual budget planning at the central level and as a regular instrument of the budget planning process for all public entities in Kosovo.
The government, supported by Sida, introduced the application of Gender Impact Assessment (GIA) in 2018. The introduction of GIA was in line with the direct implementation of the requirements of the Law on Gender Equality and within the framework of the Regulatory Impact Assessment as part of the Strategy for Better Regulation.
The Kosovo Programme on Gender Equality (2020–2024) sets the general framework for integrating gender equality into laws, policies and public services. This legal infrastructure paves the way for the effective inclusion of GRB into all phases of the central and local financial management cycles.
Launch of the report “Capacity and skills development needs on gender mainstreaming and GRB and Gender-responsive COVID-19 local interventions”. Photo: UN Women
Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment and Public Financial Management performance results
The last Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment report for Kosovo was released in January 2016. It noted that the government was making significant progress towards strengthening Public Financial Management (PFM) performance to the benefit of budgetary outcomes such as aggregating fiscal discipline, the strategic allocation of resources and more efficient service delivery. The scores for 21 out of a total of 31 indicators were in the A-B range, reflecting strong performance, while the scores for the other 9 indicators were in the C-D range, reflecting weak performance but a significant improvement compared to the previous report from 2009.
The Kosovo PEFA assessment made no reference to and provided no information on the state of play of GRB implementation in Kosovo and no comments or recommendations were provided in relation to the application of GRB, although Kosovo has now incorporated the application of GRB into the annual budget circulars at both the local and central level of public administration and public entities.
Implementation of the Public Finance Management Reform Strategy
The Kosovo Public Finance Management Reform Strategy (PFMRS) 2016–2020 was adopted in June 2016. This strategic document, which was compiled by the Ministry of Finances, Labour and Transfers, was aimed at ensuring a modern system of public finance management for Kosovo in harmony with best international practice. A planned mid-term review in 2018 revealed that out of a total of 23 indicators just nine were on track to be achieved by the end of the strategic period (2020) and that 14 were not on track. The mid-term review provided an opportunity to propose new activities aimed at correcting the misalignment between the objective and the activities contained in the original action plan and for updating and revising the strategy as required by ongoing developments and changes to the context.
The GIA instrument, which is conducted under the leadership and guidance of the Agency for Gender Equality, is applied vertically and horizontally in all of the proposed regulatory frameworks of Kosovo. Furthermore, all line ministries, municipalities and public entities are required to apply affirmative measures when hiring and contracting personnel and during the procurement and disbursement of grants and subsidies. A total of 27 sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies and four national programmes/strategies, such as the Kosovo Programme for Gender Equality, the National Development Strategy, the Economic Reform Programme, the National Action Plan for European Integration and the Strategy Against Domestic Violence, are either fully or partially gender mainstreamed. In total they represent almost 70 per cent of all public development policies in Kosovo.
As from 2020, Kosovo has been part of the UN Women regional project ‘Transformative Financing for Gender Equality towards more Transparent, Inclusive and Accountable Governance in the Western Balkans’. This programmatic support is expected to advance GRB implementation to the next level by working in different directions. Some of these directions include capacity development of local GRB experts, gender equality officers, policy planners, public finance managers and analysts as well as the Kosovo Assembly and municipalities and CSOs from various sectors to further develop the GRB regulatory framework in Kosovo. All of the programmatic support provided by UN Women is embedded in the ongoing initiatives aimed at PFM reform in Kosovo and the Kosovo Gender Equality Agenda.
Ermira Lubani during ToT on Gender Responsive Budgeting in Kosovo. Photo: UN Women
Types of budgets used for GRB
Kosovo uses line budgeting. The absence of statistics units in most line ministries represents a crucial challenge to the collection and administering of administrative data in general and gender-disaggregated data in particular. The budgeting process in Kosovo still faces many challenges that need to be overcome in order to ensure the efficient and transparent outflow of financial resources. In addition to the lack of an integrated gender perspective at all stages of policy development and the practical application of GRB, it should be emphasized that, in general, the quality of design of Kosovo public policies remains a challenge.
GDP and gender equality
The contraction of the economy in 2020 revealed a number of implications specific to women. According to data from the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS), in the first quarter of 2020 only 14.1 per cent of women were employed compared to 44 per cent of men. Women also witnessed a significant decrease in their paid working hours during the pandemic, which went as high as 65 per cent. One-third of working women in Kosovo were employed in the informal sector even before the pandemic. Yet above all of these implications is the fact that during this period women faced increased hours of unpaid care work.
 All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
 AECOM International Development Europe SL, Kosovo PEFA Report, January 2016. Available at www.pefa.org/node/1046.
 The Gender Impact Assessment was implemented with the support of the Sida funded project and submitted to the Agency for Gender Equality and the gender mechanisms. As part of the broader initiative for implementing the Kosovo Strategy for Better Regulation, supported through the Sida project in the office of the Prime Minister.
1 For UN Women, references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.