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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Breakthrough for Gender Auditing in Israel

Our grantee, the Adva Center, reports this good news:

A campaign begun 10 years ago by the Adva Center to convince the Israel Finance Ministry that it should undertake a gender audit of the national budget, for the purpose of increasing gender equality, as well as budget transparency and efficiency, saw a breakthrough in October 2013, when the Minister of Finance appointed a national committee to examine that very possibility. The Adva Center provided professional consulting services to the committee.

On June 25, 2014, another milestone was reached, when the committee submitted its interim report. The Committee recommended that government ministries undertake gender audits of their own expenditures, and that the State Revenues Authority undertake a gender audit of state revenues, beginning with the national budget for fiscal 2015.

Gender mainstreaming, which includes gender auditing of budgets, is a strategy for improving the status of women in society. It involves examining whether a particular program or budget, which is assumed to be gender neutral, actually has a differential effect on women and men, then changing the program or budget so that it contributes to greater gender equality.

Adva Center brought the strategy of gender mainstreaming to Israel in 2004, when it created the Women's Budget Forum, a coalition of 30 women's and human rights organizations which began to work for women's fair share of government spending. This strategy is recommended by the European Union and has been implemented in many European countries, including those of Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and Spain. (It is also a strategy that was funded by the Hadassah Foundation.)

The Committee for Gender Auditing the National Budget of Israel delivered its interim report in late June, at the Knesset, at a meeting of the Knesset Committee for Promotion of the Status of Women, chaired by MK Dr. Aliza Lavie. The Committee recommended that government ministries undertake gender audits of their own expenditures, and that the State Revenues Authority undertake a gender audit of state revenues, beginning with the budget for fiscal 2015. The Committee also instructed the Budget Department of the Finance Ministry and the Office of the Prime Minister to prepare a Gender Audit Guide. The Adva Center was informed that its gender experts will be involved in creation of the Guide. Finally, the Committee recommended that a gender audit be included in the official, published budget book of each government ministry.

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