Applause for the Penang budget model

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A budgeting process that is more gender sensitive and inclusive can become a reality as Penang takes steps in that direction.

The “People Oriented Model” of Gender Responsive Participatory Budgeting (GRPB), conceived and put into practice in Penang two years ago, created a buzz at an international conference here recently. The reason: “Participatory budgeting (PB) is not necessarily gendered, and gender budgeting (GB) is not necessarily participatory,” as Dr Regina Frey, head of the Gender Bureau in Berlin, puts it. The excitement stemmed from the Penang Model having apparently enabled the two to meet.

Having its origins in attempts by feminist economists to deal with the negative impacts of the Structural Adjustment Policy on certain social groups – especially poor women and female-headed households – gender responsive budgeting (GRB) tends to adopt technocratic approaches highly driven by “expert” knowledge with little participation by or input from the beneficiary groups.


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