Gender budgeting “includes conducting a gender assessment for the budget, integrating a gender perspective at all levels of the budget process, and restructuring the revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality in the society”.
On March 31, 2021, the member of the Iraqi Parliament, Ms. Rezan Sheikh Diler, posted on her Facebook page: “Based on Article 28, Paragraph 6, the commitments of the government towards the programs and issues of gender and women in the society, a paragraph was added to the budget law based on our demand in order to provide the necessary budget for gender issues and for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to support the women in Iraq”. She added, all the decisions and programs that support women require budgets. According to the budget law, whenever financial resources are needed, a budget must be provided.
Ms. Rezan said “it will be difficult to develop the issues of gender without having a budget to develop the gender units, and without women participation in the management of these units”.
She added ” in Iraq there is an article in the budget law, but in the Kurdistan Region, we do not have a budget law yet, therefore, it’s difficult to include this article.”
According to Ms. Rezan, it’s important to allocate a budget for the ministries, gender units and universities that have gender studies in order to implement the programs and strategies, but unfortunately in the Kurdistan region we do not have this budget. Therefore, gradually, the gender issue has receded”.
What is the region doing?
The Kurdistan Region is planning to implement the pillar (Prevention) of the national action plan for UN Security Council Resolution Women, Peace, Security 1325 (2021-2024).
The Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Ministry of Planning were informed to establish the concept of crisis prevention within the institutional framework. They were also asked to develop and prepare an annual budget based on gender response. Another section states that a proportion of productive projects should be allocated for single women, spouses, and women who have suffered during the crises.
The Secretary General of the KRG High Council for Women and Development, dr. Khanzad Ahmad, said during a workshop for the Gender Units that took place on February 20, 2023 in Erbil, ‘according to the program of the KRG High Council for Women and Development, the units should play an active role in developing the budget. The training should not involve only the women and girls of the ministry, but it should involve both genders. The units should play an active role in developing the budget to reflect the needs of women and girls in the monthly and annual budget of the ministry.”
Ms. Trifa Faridoon, the Head of the gender unit in Sulaymaniyah, said “we are linked to the governorate office and to the governor directly, and we do not have a specific budget because we are not within the administrative structure, but our expenditures are based on the budget of the governorate”. She added “having a gender budget will have a great impact on our activities and will improve the gender units”.
“The budget that is allocated for gender development plays a major role in family protection and community development. This budget is not allocated to women only, but it means allocating a budget to all human resources equally.” said Bayraw Anwar, a gender trainer.
“The allocation of the gender budget is part of the social justice project. Both genders can participate in the society and benefit from it, especially in independent economic issues, decision-making and political issues. These resources are not just economic resources but sometimes for awareness, how do you make a way for them within the budget.”
Ms. Zhia Abbas, a gender sociologist, believes that allocating budgets for gender development plays a major role in building a developed society because there are many gaps in this regard. This issue has not been addressed properly in Kurdish society yet. It requires a long-term plan. It is true that there are efforts and principles, but we cannot achieve important results without having a budget. In 2016, the Kurdistan Regional Government approved the National Strategic Project for the Development of Women in the Kurdistan Region for 2016-2024 according to resolution No. 98. The establishment of the gender units was a mechanism to implement this strategy. Currently, there are gender units in eight ministries in the region.
Dr. Khanzad Ahmad added, ‘based on the new regulations of the council priority has been given to 8 ministries that units should be enhanced and developed, but this does not mean that other units are forgotten. Therefore, it is very important for us to redesign the tasks of the units.”
The director of Gender Research and Information Organization, Ms. Ramzia Zana, said that “providing a gender budget will have its own impact, especially in terms of training the staff of the gender units and centers. When the gender units were established this was not taken under consideration. In the future, we must take it under consideration.”
The Director General of the Iraqi Women Empowerment Department dr. Yousra Karim Mohsen, said that “the departments of women empowerment were established in the ministries and provinces, however, the budgets are not allocated as special budgets, but some of the budgets of the projects and sectors are allocated for gender.”
According to the investigations, there is no specific article or paragraph in the KRG about gender development budget.
Mr. Ari Rafiq, the Deputy of the Director General of the KRG Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women and Family, said “there is no specific budget in the KRG called the gender budget”. He added “We do not have a specific budget under the title of gender development budget, but part of the budget of the Kurdistan Regional Government is allocated to the institutions that work on combating violence and women empowerment.”
The region has no budget law for years
Mr. Ali Hama Salih, a member of the Finance and Economic Committee in the Kurdistan Parliament, the fifth term said: “There is no article in the draft of the budget for years that stipulates the need to allocate a budget for gender development”.
On December 10, 2022, the Kurdistan Women’s Alliance organized a demonstration against gender discrimination, the lack of gender budget, and a number of other issues. A statement was issued indicating that 220 women were killed in the Kurdistan region.
Ms. Pakhshan Zangana, the former Secretary General of the KRG High Council for Women and Development, said that: “There is no budget law in the Kurdistan region for years (since 2014). She added “the Kurdistan budget law which is based on the Iraqi budget law that dates back to the 1920s, defines only two types of budget: the operational and the investment budget”.
“In 2012, with the support of the UN Women, the KRG High Council for Women and Development, the Ministries of Finance and Planning and a number of the civil society organizations were working to replace the gender budget in the budget law. There was the same program in Iraq.”
“We tried to allocate a budget for the gender units and then for the gender centers. The efforts continued. However, there were financial problems since 2014, so we faced challenges in this regard. The KRG High Council for Women and Development didn’t have its own budget because it’s part of the KRG Council of Ministers. “
Although the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is within the Iraqi state that has signed the CEDAW Convention to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence and empower women economically and politically, no budget was allocated for women’s development projects in any institution. In 2013, three of the 13 projects of the Ministry of Planning were supervised by the KRG High Council for Women and Development with the support of the relevant UN agencies, the Ministry of Planning failed to fulfil its financial obligations to the UN, therefore the projects which lasted three years and passed some stages were shortened.