Prof. Francesca Bettio, M.Sc., PhD

Together with Dr. Annalisa Rosselli and Dr. Sara Cabibbo (Università di Roma1 and Università di Roma3, respectively), I organized the first International Conference on the Gender Auditing of Public Budgets to be held in Italy in 2001.  The Conference – funded by the Ministry of Equal Opportunity and sponsored by the Italian Presidency – hosted young scholars and local administrators together with experts and policy makers. It soon bore fruit as numerous local governments were inspired to experiment with Gender Budgeting at municipal, provincial or regional level in the following years. Actual funding often came from the European Structural Fund, which helped disseminating the practice of Gender Budgeting. I have taken part in most of the early experiments as well as some of the most significant initiatives of the past decade. I have generally performed the role of ‘external expert’, my main task being to provide local administrations with technical support in Gender Budgeting. And I have often worked in close collaboration with Dr. Rosselli.

Until recently, no national Law or local Governmental Agency Directive regulated the application of Gender Budgeting initiatives. Essentially, it was up to the individual member of the local government to take the initiative and, as a rule, to choose a team of experts who could advise on and assist with actual implementation.[1] In the absence of a clear template, policy objectives, methodological approaches, and of course results, differed greatly across initiatives. For example, while in some cases local governments were genuinely committed, in others,  Gender Budgeting was used by local politicians merely to showcase their “achievements” – a purely marketing exercise, therefore. An additional drawback was that even in the most  ‘committed’ initiatives, Gender Budgeting consisted merely of a one-off experiment with no monitoring or follow-up.   At the same time, such diversity of experimentation offers  a  potential rich source of information on what could be done to make Gender Budgeting more effective or more closely targeted on specific policy needs, especially at local level. To date, however, such potential has remained untapped.

[1] Since 2009 any Public Agency has been required by law (DL 150/2009)  to carry out Gender Budgeting. To my knowledge, however,  this requirement has not been systematically enforced.

Francesca Bettio teaches Economics at the University of Siena, Italy, and has been advising the Equality Unit of the European Commission since 2007 in the capacity as coordinator of successive networks of experts on gender equality and the female labour market: The EGGE network (European Network of Experts on Employment and Gender Equality Issues 2007-2011), the ENEGE network (European Network of Experts on Gender Equality) 2011-2015), and a newly-formed network for Scientific Analysis and Advice on Gender Equality in the EU.)