Gender: A report titled ‘Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting in Bhutan (GRPB): From analysis to action’ was launched in the capital yesterday.

The report was launched by the finance minister Namgay Dorji and the deputy representative of UN Women, India Multi-Country Office, Patricia Barandun.

During the launch, Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said that the government is committed to addressing the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“GRPB is a critical strategy endorsed by the government to ensure that gender concerns are identified and addressed in the planning and budgeting processes,” Lyonpo said. “The finance ministry, National Commission for Women and Children and Gross National Happiness Commission alongside with the sectoral departments are working together to build on the evidence generated through the study and strengthen the implementation of GRPB in Bhutan”.

The government has endorsed GRPB as a key strategy to achieve gender mainstreaming and has taken a number of initiatives at the institutional and policy level to ensure that planning and budgeting processes are gender responsive, Lyonpo added.

UN Women’s approach to GRPB has focused on introducing strategic and sustainable changes into planning and budgeting processes, Patricia Barandun said.

“This has been pursued by assisting governments to introduce measures for incorporating gender into their public finance management systems, and building the capacity of government functionaries to apply GRPB to ensure that budget policies and outcomes are gender-responsive,” Patricia Barandun said. “I would like to thank and commend the government of Bhutan for its continued commitment to GRPB.”

The National Coordinator of the UN Women office for Bhutan, Rinzi Pem said that this report is an illustration of the outstanding collaboration between UN Women and the government, in particular the Department of National Budget under the finance ministry.

The national budget department and UN Women with support from the Asian Development Bank undertook the GRPB analysis of three sectors: agriculture, health and education.

“From the report, we can make few recommendations and conclusions,” Rinzi Pem said. “To engender the sectoral plans and policies, it is critical to engender the national and local level planning and budgeting processes, and to enhance capacities of officials at all tiers of governance on GRPB.”

UN Women and the government are working together in taking forward the implementation of GRPB to achieve a shared vision of gender equality and women’s empowerment, Rinzi Pem said.

Achieving gender equality is fundamental to realising the transformative promise of the historic 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by 193 heads of state at the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York last September.

“The Member States also agreed upon the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the main outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which will be fundamental to the implementation of the post 2015 development framework, Rinzi Pem said. “This year also celebrates the 20-year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights.”

Despite significant advancements on the commitments made by countries worldwide, deep financing gaps for women and girls continue to pose significant barriers to rapid progress, Rinzi Pem said.

Following the adoption of the Beijing Platform of Action in 1995, a number of countries adopted gender responsive budgeting (GRB) as a key strategy to advance women’s rights.

More than 90 countries have engaged in gender-responsive budgeting worldwide, of which more than a quarter are found in the Asia Pacific region.

During the launch, Lyonpo Namgay Dorji also pledged to support the HeForShe, a solidarity campaign for gender equality initiated by UN Women.

“We must take into account that men and women have different needs and expectations. In my role as Minister of Finance, I will work to ensure that budgets and planning are developed through a gender lens,” Lyonpo said.

UN Women is the UN organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established in South Asia to accelerate progress on meeting their rights worldwide.

Thinley Zangmo