BookPDF Available

Abstract

The first book of its kind, Gender Budgeting in Europe explores conceptual and methodological variations evidence in practice in Europe and the challenges of adoption and implementation in different political and institutional contexts. It brings together historical and current conceptual developments and tensions; approaches, methodologies, and tools in practice across Europe; activism, actors and agency and the engagement of formal institutions at all levels of government with feminist policy changes and feminist analysis and activists.
199
© e Author(s) 2018
A. O’Hagan, E. Klatzer (eds.), Gender Budgeting in Europe,
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-64891-0_10
10
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory
forAlternative Methodologies?
FrancescaBettio andAnnalisaRosselli
Introduction
e story of Gender Budgeting (GB) in Italy seems to conrm the stereo-
type of a country where individualism and disregard for the rules prevail.
Indeed, scores of GB initiatives have been carried out at the local level
over the last 15years, as we shall see later in detail, but none at the
national level. In 2009 the parliament passed a law1 which strongly rec-
ommended GB to all public institutions and administrations. e rec-
ommendation, which had very few applications, was reiterated and
reinforced more recently in legislation in ‘following which a special unit
of the Parliamentary Budget Oce and a group of experts were set up to
coordinate and foster action.’
ere has been no organised eort to build a common methodology
promoted by the Ministry of Equal Opportunity or other governing
F. Bettio
Università di Siena, Siena, Italy
A. Rosselli (*)
Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
200
bodies. A number of reports on GB activities reveal some common fea-
tures across the dierent approaches attempted, but the limited coordi-
nation of these is mainly due to the personal initiative of the gender
experts involved, sharing their experiences at conferences and
workshops.
As we argue in this chapter, this peculiar development of GB in Italy
has had its pros and cons. A principal advantage has been the freedom of
experimentation due to the absence of national guidelines and lack of
pre-determined format. Experts and administrators had to start from
scratch each time and exercise their ingenuity, since most international
models—at least those easily accessible—had been conceived for entire
countries and not for much smaller communities. A main disadvantage
has been that lack of common methodology and organised reection on
past experiences has made progress slow. Moreover, none of the GB ini-
tiatives were mandatory, or integral to the routine process of approving
the budget, nor indeed did they respond to strong demand from civil
society. erefore, most of them have been short-lived and were discon-
tinued when the ocers who had promoted them came to the end of
their term and the new administration chose to ignore the work of their
predecessors. is lack of continuity has meant that sta training on GB
was dicult and projects had to rely heavily on external experts. After the
scal crisis of 2010 when austerity set in and funds for experts became
hard to nd, GB came to a total halt practically everywhere just when it
was most needed to assess the impact of budget cuts. is discontinuity,
together with some methodological fuzziness, explains why there are very
few instances in Italy where we can maintain that GB has become an
eective and permanent instrument for change in the allocation of
resources in favour of gender equality.
Notwithstanding these critical observations, GB has been useful in
Italy. Among the observable benets it has certainly increased the gender
awareness of many administrators outside the small circle of equal oppor-
tunity ocers. It has contributed to the development and progress of GB
by clarifying basic concepts, introducing new tools and devising inge-
nious indicators for the context analysis of small municipalities or specic
institutions like universities.
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
201
A Short History ofGB inItaly: 2000–2016
GB made its rst appearance in Italy in September 2000, when the authors
of this chapter organised an international workshop in Rome, with the
nancial support of the Special Commission for Equal Opportunities, a
department within the Prime Minister’s Oce but now disbanded. Some
of the international experts contributing to this volume (Diane Elson and
Susan Himmelweit2) participated in the workshop and explained the
main tenets of GB to a large audience of local administrators, trade union-
ists and academic researchers from all over Italy. Important members of
the Cabinet also attended and declared their intention of introducing this
new tool into the national budget. Unfortunately, a few months later, the
general election brought a change of government. As Prime Minister,
Silvio Berlusconi proved not to be particularly sensitive to gender equality
and that conference remained the only occasion for a long time when the
national government showed some real interest in GB.As noted, only
recently has, a group of experts been appointed by the Italian Parliament to
study the possibility of GB in Italy.
Following the workshop in 2000, a small group of local administra-
tors, convinced of the importance and usefulness of GB, decided to start
pilot projects in their own administrations. e rst GB project involved
Sestri Levante, a small municipality (Comune) in the province of Genoa
in Northern Italy, in the winter of 2001.3 e Region Emilia-Romagna
and the municipality of Modena followed, producing their GB reports in
2003. Since then, there have been a number of GB projects at the regional,
provincial and municipal level. Badalassi (2014) reports that 24 Comuni,
27 provinces and 6 regions in Italy had carried out GB exercises by 2007,
but the number is much larger by now. ey are scattered throughout the
country, with the exception of Sardinia. A regional Law4 accounts for the
high concentration in Tuscany.
It is worth recalling that in Italy there are 20 regions, which are the
largest local administrations. Altogether regions encompass 103 prov-
inces, which in turn encompass 8000 Comuni, almost 70 per cent of
which have fewer than 5000 inhabitants. ese dierent levels of local
government dier not only in size but also in the structure of their
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
202
budgets, reecting a complex division of tasks and responsibilities.
About 60 per cent of a typical Italian region’s total expenditure is
devoted to health services; about 30 per cent of a municipality’s total
expenditure goes into social services and more or less the same amount
goes into public transport and waste collection. Until 2014 Provinces
were responsible for labour market policies and training programmes.
In 2014, the role of Provinces was considerably reduced with most of
the tasks and responsibilities previously allotted to them being trans-
ferred to the regions, the main exception being road maintenance and
schools.
GB thus requires dierent approaches and areas of expertise according
to the level at which it is carried out. For example at regional level, GB
requires access to National Health Service data and a team of experts
including some with medical/health expertise. At provincial level until
2014, GB would include assessment of training programmes and labour
market policies and at municipal level, GB concerns social services, trans-
port and environmental policies.
e spread of GB in Italy, in the rst decade of this century, owes
much to the favourable attitude of some feminist administrators and
their awareness that something had to be done to re-address the many
gender unbalances of their country. Italy is ranked among the countries
in the European Union (EU) with the lowest gender equality, according
to the European Gender Equality Index (EGEI). Its performance is above
the EU average in one area only, namely health, thanks to Italian women’s
long life-expectancy. In all other respects the situation is far from being
satisfactory.
However, fundamental support to carry out GB projects also came
from the EU. e European Social Fund (ESF), in the programming
period 2000–2006, earmarked several million euros specically for mea-
sures to improve gender equality and increase female participation in the
labour market. Funds that could not be spent otherwise were available to
local administrations able to show that they knew how to deploy them.
GB, with its promises of improving the eectiveness, eciency and trans-
parency of public expenditure, gave politicians the opportunity to kill
two birds with one stone. It allocated funds to increase gender equality,
as required by the EU, and allowed politicians to justify and explain their
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
203
choices to voters increasingly dissatised and disgusted by scandals and
corruption. ESF resources enabled local administrations to:
a. hire experts who combined knowledge of gender issues with training
in economics. Even the largest administrations did not have the neces-
sary competences in-house, since people in the equal opportunity
division (usually women) often had no knowledge of economics and
accounting, while people in the budget division (usually men) often
knew nothing about gender issues;
b. remunerate the eort of employees involved in the GB project who
perceived it as an additional task which increased their workload
despite not being mandatory;
c. publish the results of GB exercises and showcase them publicly.
e support of the ESF lasted approximately until 2009. e subse-
quent ESF programming periods had dierent designs and rules, and the
administrations that wished to continue GB practices had to rely on their
own resources. is would not have been a serious problem if:
1. consensus had been reached on a common format for GB, clear, easy
and inexpensive to replicate as well as appropriate to the responsibili-
ties and resources (data, expertise) available to the administration car-
rying it out, be it a Region, a Comune or even network of small Comune
to Comuni. For the aforementioned reasons this has still not been pos-
sible, with the consequence that interesting results of many pilot proj-
ects have not been used to build a shared methodology;
2. politicians were really interested in GB as an instrument for change;
this would have required continuity, instead most of them saw it as a
propaganda and self-promotion tool. Very often basic gender disag-
gregated statistics and comments were posted on the URL of the
administration as evidence that gender issues were being tackled;
3. there had been strong pressure from civil society in favour of
GB.Although there are signs that this pressure still is eectively being
exercised in some places—above all in the universities—many activists
and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) no longer include GB
in their list of priority requests to local governments.
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
204
To wrap up this short reconstruction of Italy’s GB history let us note
that no political organisation or womens group has ever attempted a
gender-sensitive analysis of the budget from outside the administration.
What makes it practically impossible is lack of key information, aggra-
vated by the fact that public budgets are not usually organised by pro-
grammes. e prevalent format is still line-item-based or structured
around the units responsible for managing funds, which generally makes
it dicult to identify precise allocation of funds. Hence results depend
heavily on the level of aggregation and appropriateness of expenditure
classication to the purposes of GB analysis. Suppose, for example, that
it were important to measure funds devoted to home-to-school buses and
the closest line entry were expenditure on city buses. In this case it would
be cumbersome for someone outside the administration to separate out
expenditure on school buses and theresults could be inaccurate. is
explains why, to use Elson’s classication (Elson 2003), the political loca-
tion of Italian GB exercises has always been within government. With
very few exceptions, these exercises represent gender auditing operations
or ex-post analysis of the budget.5
A Common Protocol forItalian GB Exercises?
Our aim in this and the following sections is to highlight the main simi-
larities and dierences we detect in the GB exercises carried out within
the country. e similarities can constitute the components upon which
to build a common protocol for GB at each level of administration. We
understand “protocol” as it is used in medicine, that is, a detailed written
set of instructions to guide the GB analysis or to assist the practitioner in
the performance of the procedure. As regards dierences among GB exer-
cises, in some cases they are more apparent than real, more a matter of
how the results are presented than the way they have been reached. In
other cases, they call for comparative assessment of the methodologies
adopted, in terms of reproducibility, costs and actual usefulness for
policymakers.
Our survey of GB experiences in Italy is rather selective, drawing pri-
marily from reports that are (or were at some point in time) available
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
205
online, the small number of academic publications which refer to them,
and our direct involvement in some of these experiences. Selectivity is
both a choice and the inevitable outcome of shortcomings in coordina-
tion and spreading of the ndings.6
Starting with the similarities, let us recall that all the Italian GB exer-
cises were carried out by the administration itself, often but not always
with the help of external gender experts. Moreover, these exercises fre-
quently followed similar sequences which can be broken down into three
steps:
context analysis—identication and calculation of a set of demo-
graphic, social and economic indicators of gender equality and wom-
ens well-being in the reference area;
analysis of local gender equality practices within and for the adminis-
tration being audited;
gender impact analysis of the administrations expenditure and
taxation.
e salient dierences among the various exercises are to be seen
mainly in the third step, namely gender impact analysis, while dierences
in the rst two steps are often not systematic.
Step 1: Context Analysis
Context analysis is the most developed part of any GB exercise, and by far
its main component. It is also the part which has shown the greatest
progress over the years, as can be seen by comparing some of the earliest
GB exercises with the most recent ones. In some of the earliest projects or
in those where the intervention of gender experts was insucient, the
availability of gender disaggregated data often drove the analysis, and not
the other way round. e result was often a mix of conventional gender
gap indicators (e.g. employment and unemployment gender gaps) and
more unusual ones (e.g. gender gap between holders of driving licences7),
with pages lled with graphs and tables that meant little to the external
reader. Although convergence has yet to be reached on a well-dened set
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
206
of indicators relevant for GB, some order has been introduced with the
streamlining of the indicators for context analysis around a list of “capa-
bilities” inspired by the works of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum,
following an approach which research on assessing development and
inequality has largely adopted in the last decades.8 Examples of capabili-
ties are: caring for oneself and for the others, living a long and healthy
life, acquiring knowledge, among others.
It is worth noting that although the approach of identifying and group-
ing context indicators around a basic list of capabilities was also adopted
in the development of the EGEI (EIGE 2015), the latter cannot be cred-
ited as inuencing GB exercises in Italy, as it was not available when most
GB exercises were carried out. In the future, however, the EGEI could be
used to standardise large-scale GB exercises in the country, but only at the
regional or national level, since the scope of municipal-level exercises is
too limited and the data required for EGEI calculations are not available
on such a small scale. A study which calculates EGEI for all the 20 Italian
regions in the years 2005 and 2010 (Amici and Stefani 2013) has already
shown promising results. For example, it made clear that no substantial
progress in terms of gender equality occurred between 2005 and 2010.
An interesting and unexpected result is that Lombardy, one of the most
developed Italian regions, had one of the worst scores regarding gender
equality in decision-making.
Progress has not, however, been shown in the choice of suitable bench-
marks, which makes it dicult to interpret context indicators. e prob-
lem has often been solved by taking national averages as benchmarks,
while politically agreed targets and standards have been used far less
frequently.
Fragmentation has also implied insucient political pressure to pro-
vide statistics capable of capturing crucial elements of gender equality
and the care economy, like family friendly organisation of work or time
allotted to specic tasks. A small Comune does not have sucient clout to
convince the national statistical institute to experiment with new kinds of
data. Occasionally suitable proxies have been found for missing indica-
tors. For example, it has become customary to use a specic age group
breakdown of the population to construct a rough estimate of supply and
demand of care services. Specically, age groups under 17 and over 80 are
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
207
taken to identify people who require care services, while those aged
between 18 and 59 represent the “life-work reconciliation area” and those
between 60 and 79 the “area in need for support”. e proportions
between these groups can thus serve as a measure of the possible work-
load for the caregivers, while trends for the respective group can serve to
project the workload into the future at the local level.
Step 2: Analysis ofLocal Equal Opportunity Practices
Analysis of local equal opportunity practices is perhaps one of the most sat-
isfactory accomplishments of GB in Italy. We can think of no GB exercise
in the country that did not include analysis of the equal opportunities
practice of the administration under examination in terms of composi-
tion of the personnel, career opportunities, work-life reconciliation prac-
tices, procurement policies and gender empowerment. In this respect,
many recent GB exercises have demonstrated a satisfactory degree of in-
depth analysis (see e.g. Provincia di Siena 2013) so that developing a
common protocol to be applied to all administrations would require no
great eort. e resulting protocol might indeed be “exportable” to other
countries.
e second step in the Italian GB exercises was also frequently devoted
to identifying the expenses involved in directly and explicitly tackling
gender disparities. ese expenses include support for the gender
“machinery” (e.g. funds available to the Equal Opportunity Committee)
as well as specic actions (e.g. funds to promote womens entrepreneur-
ship). However, it is generally recognised that this type of expenditure
usually accounts for a very small share of the whole budget, but the atten-
tion paid to it nevertheless signals awareness of gender issues on the part
of the administrations, and their willingness to address them.
Step 3: Approaches toGender Impact Analysis
e dierences between the GB exercises lie mainly in the choice of
approach to gender impact analysis. Dierences start with the objectives
ascribed to the GB exercises. Account-based and policy-based approaches
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
208
target gender inequality and assess the impact of the budget in terms of
the likely increase or decrease of gender gaps. e capability approach
addresses the overall well-being of women and therefore targets all the
expenditures having women as (main) beneciaries. In practice, the result
may often be the same, since addressing womens disadvantaged condi-
tions frequently implies reducing gender inequalities. In principle, how-
ever, this dierence in targets exists and there are cases when it may give
rise to ambiguities. Compare, for example, paternity leave provisions,
which target men but favour a fairer distribution of unpaid work, with
money transfers to caregivers whose beneciaries are mainly women but
which reinforce gender roles. If the objective is the reduction of gender
gaps the choice is clear, whereas it may not be so clear if the objective is
expenditure that benets women.
Here we aim to single out clear-cut dierences and similarities,
although in reality some GB exercises borrow from dierent approaches,
which may be a source of confusion. We identify three main approaches:
the account-based approach,
the policy-based approach
the capability approach.
All the approaches address the expenditure side of the budget while the
revenue side has so far received much less attention. Arguably, however,
the major dierences among the three approaches are procedural and
methodological. In the interest of clarity, we will analyse the three
approaches in turn, stressing the dierences rather than the similarities.
TheAccount-Based Approach
e account-based approach re-classies expenditure with the ultimate aim
of assessing the congruence between the professed gender-relevant objec-
tives of the administration and its actual budget allocations. It builds on
the proposal by Sharp (2000) to classify expenditure into three categories:
(1) “Specically targeted expenditures by government departments and
authorities to women or men in the community intended to meet their
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
209
particular needs”; (2) “Equal employment opportunity expenditure by
government agencies on their employees”; (3) “General or mainstream
budget expenditures by government agencies which make goods or ser-
vices available to the whole community, but which are assessed for their
gender impact” (Sharp 2000, Appendix 3).
e GB exercise originally carried out9 for the Marche region (Regione
Marche 2006) can be seen as an application of the account-based
approach. In the mid-2000s, when the exercise was carried out, Marche
was a prosperous region with one of the highest female employment rates
in Italy and one of the lowest gender employment gaps, thanks partly to
a relatively strong incidence of female employment in manufacturing. In
our experience, it is no coincidence that the regions that performed best
in terms of female employment and other gender equality indicators were
more likely to nance GB initiatives. e case of Marche is indicative in
this respect. e tacit aim of such initiatives was to showcase outcomes
for women as reecting successful previous commitment on the part of
the administration while reiterating commitment to further improve-
ments. In short, the willingness of the administration to invest in such
initiatives in part reected actual commitment to gender equality, and in
part amounted to a marketing exercise.
e Marche GB is notable for the attempt to experiment with innova-
tive reclassications of expenditure, each for a dierent purpose. It com-
bines two main coding systems. e rst system ranks expenditure items
by assigning a higher score to those accruing to sectors and branches of
the paid economy with higher incidence of female wage employment
and/or female entrepreneurship. While such a criterion may be criticised
on the grounds that it might end up encouraging segregation, the experts
carrying out the exercise at that time felt that in the short run, increasing
employment should take priority over de-segregation e second coding
system classies expenditure in terms of the gender distribution of the
nal beneciaries. For example, under the second code (i.e. nal bene-
ciaries) the expenditure on locally produced re-ghting equipment was
rated “neutral” since both men and women are likely to benet from bet-
ter equipped re brigades. Under the rst coding system the same expen-
diture received a mixed evaluation. On the one hand it was assigned a low
score on the presumption that benets for female employment would be
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
210
limited in this male-dominated manufacturing branch. However, this
was mitigated by the high score gained thanks to the expectation that
female entrepreneurship might be favoured, since female entrepreneurs
were surprisingly well represented in this branch. Another example is
nancial support for a private research institute. In this case expenditure
received a low score on positive female employment spill-overs because of
the low share of women in the sta while the score on the female share of
the beneciaries was high, since a core activity of the institute was train-
ing high-school teachers, among whom women are in the majority.
e classication combining the two coding systems serves two pur-
poses: it increases gender awareness by providing a way of reading each
expenditure in terms of comparative relevance for men and women. It also
provides a preliminary assessment of the expected impact of budget alloca-
tions on selected gender equality outcomes (e.g. womens equal labour mar-
ket participation orgender fairness in the allocation of public benets).
e actual exercises carried out in Italy were geared primarily to
increasing gender awareness, partly because the assessment potential of
this methodology has limitations. Gauging the formal commitment of
the administration to furthering the integration of women into economic
and social life is a commendable ambition. However, nding assessment
criteria that can be applied across all sectors, are cost-eective and feasible
in a relatively short time, is not easy without resorting to ex-ante, highly
subjective judgements. Barbara Bergmann expressed a similar concern
when she reviewed the rst exercises of GB more than ten years ago. In
her words:
e “all-sectors” approach is a highly demanding one, and there have to be
serious questions as to its feasibility in most contexts, even in the case of
countries for which a considerable body of data have been collected and are
available. Where time, energy, resources, patience and even good will are
severely limited, it makes sense to concentrate on the most urgent issues,
and what these are is usually no mystery. (Bergmann 2005, 137–138)
Going no further than reclassifying expenditure is a specic shortcom-
ing of the Marche exercise. However, it also shares with other account-
based GB exercises the diculty in identifying priorities other than
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
211
somewhat general ones. Suppose, for example, that regional governments
devote extra funds to increasing womens presence in the managerial ranks
of private and public company boards in the region but make cuts to
elderly care services for an equivalent amount. e simplest account- based
approach based on the trichotomous classication proposed by Sharp
would record a (perfectly compensating) transfer between expenditure
favouring equal employment for men and women (group 2) to expendi-
ture specically targeted on women (group1). Nothing in the methodol-
ogy of the account-based approach would help deciding if avoiding cuts to
services should have priority over allocating more funds to enhance wom-
ens empowerment. More sophisticated account-based approaches may
make such problems less visible, but not remove them altogether.
The Policy-Based Approach
Implementation of the policy-based approach in Italy can be exemplied
by the GB exercises carried out for the Modena municipality and for a
group of small municipalities in the province of Siena (see Bettio etal.
2006).10
At the time of the GB initiative, Modena and Siena (both the munici-
palities and the larger Provinces) could boast a high level of women’s
employment by Italian standards. In 2001, for example, the employment
rate of women aged 20–49 reached 77 per cent and 70 per cent in the
provinces of Modena and Siena, respectively, which was much higher
than the average employment rate for this group forthe whole of Italy.11
Moreover, welfare provisions were generous enough in Modena to war-
rant comparison with some Scandinavian countries. Again, therefore,
willingness to nance GB initiatives came from local governments that
had little to fear from comparative assessment of gender equality records.
In both cases the GB exercise explicitly referred to a set of policy objec-
tives that are widely recognised as desirable from a gender perspective in
academic and policy circles, ranging from closing gaps in employment,
wages or political representation to easing reconciliation of family and
work and reducing violence against women. Local-level indicators related
to such objectives were then computed to set priority goals within a con-
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
212
text analysis where local conditions were assessed against selected
benchmarks. Next, key policies were identied for selected priority areas,
selection being necessitated by limited resources for analysis. Finally, the
core auditing exercise consisted of identifying budget expenditure items
or programmes that could be expected to further progress in the key
policy areas, based on the literature and on past records. For example,
reconciliation was identied as a key policy area in Modena given that the
local fertility rate was among the lowest in the country at the time of the
exercise. Fertility was also a high priority area in the budgetary analysis of
the Sienese municipalities. In the latter case, public childcare provisions
were analysed in detail in order to gauge resources devoted to reconcilia-
tion, and suggestions were advanced to set “internal” targets so as to
monitor progress, for example, not only rate of coverage but also opening
hours per week. In this specic case the best values recorded by the par-
ticipating municipalities served as benchmarks.
e advantage of this methodology lies in setting measurable objec-
tives and clearly identifying the implementation policies. Its strong point
is denition of the “roadmap” or, more simply, the process. A clear disad-
vantage is that identication of goals, policy and targets is neither simple
nor easy to standardise. Political dialogue and participatory processes
may help the administration to identify broadly dened goals, but which
policies to follow is a matter for experts who are often needed to make
discretionary or complex judgements. Implementation of GB can thus be
costly, the quality of auditing may depend on the competence and judge-
ment of experts and the related complexity may deter administrators.
The Holistic Approach: Enhancing Women’s
Capabilities
e capability approach to GB builds on Amartya Sens approach to human
development, which Sen does not identify solely with amelioration in the
amount of resources available to individuals, but with the “expansion of
the ‘capabilities’ of persons to lead the kind of lives they value—and have
reasons to value” (Sen 1999, 18). Development is therefore a multidimen-
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
213
sional concept where the cultural and emotional aspects of human life
play an important role in addition to material living conditions. Moreover,
since what makes life worth living for each of us depends not only on our
individual tastes and needs but also on the relations we have with the
other members of our society, this approach focuses on the historical and
political context in which individuals are embedded rather than taken in
isolation. e capabilityapproach to GB thus claims to capture the mul-
tidimensional aspects of well-being and to emphasise the importance of
relations with the physical and social environment. Far from dealing with
an abstract “economic agent”, it aims to improve the quality of lives of
“esh-and-blood women and men” (Picchio 2015, 215).
is is indeed an ambitious goal, but we would argue that, ultimately, all
GB exercises aim at enhancing women’s well-being since reducing gender
inequality in its many aspects is often a pre-requisite for improving the well-
being of women. Nevertheless, it is again necessary to stress the dierence
between a society where the living conditions of women are improved and
a more equal society. One clear case of divergence between the objectives of
gender equality and womens well-being is when gender equality is mea-
sured in terms of gender gaps and mens conditions are levelled down to
womens. is happened, for example, during the recent crisis in Europe
and elsewhere, with the paradoxical result that levelling downwards reduced
gender gaps and could be claimed to have enhanced equality despite the fact
that both womens and mens well-being plunged. In this instance however,
the seeming improvement in gender equality is an unintended consequence
of having chosen the gender gaps to measure it—while alternative measures
such as gaps with respect to a given target—say 60 per cent employment
rate for women—would not suer from this shortcoming. More impor-
tantly, perhaps, no policy deliberately pursues downward levelling.
Another case where pursuing gender equality may not coincide with
pursuing improvement in women’s well-being is when men are at a dis-
advantage relatively to women and it is their situation which warrants
improvement. In rich countries this is often observed for educational
achievements, life-expectancy or health conditions, but these gaps in
favour of womenare rather infrequent.
In sum, while dierences exist between the explicit goals of improving
womens capability and pursuing gender equality, they are infrequent or
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
214
conditional on the way gender equality is conceived of and measured. We
would therefore take issue with the way proponents of the capability
approach to GB stress its virtues in opposition to other approaches: “tra-
ditional GA [Gender Audit] models are mainly focused on how public
resources are used for goals of equal opportunities, gender equality or
eciency of public policies. us, rstly, they work in the space of
income; secondly, they measure only public expenditure for gender equal-
ity or eciency aims, rather than measuring the level of human develop-
ment that this expenditure allows women to achieve” (Addabbo et al.
2010, 484). To the best of our knowledge, no GB exercise ever conned
itself “to the space of income”; non-income dimensions like women’s
time use and empowerment being one of the hallmarks of all GB
exercises.
If thengoals are not so dissimilar, does the real dierence between the
capability approach and more traditional GB approaches lie in the
intended scope of the exercise? e capability approach is holistic and
aims at encompassing all dimensions of well-being. Other approaches
tend to start from the assumption that lack of data and resources as well
as implementation costs inevitably force the scope of eective GB exer-
cises down to selected dimensions of well-being. Again, however, the dif-
ference may be more seeming than real. As we shall illustrate below with
reference to the Italian case, actual implementations of the capability
approach also conned analysis of the budget to selected dimensions of
well-being. Arguably, the real dierence with other GB experiences was
in the process that was chosen to select priorities, with the capability
approach giving more weight to participatory processes or dialogue with
the local administrators than to the judgement of experts.
In order to illustrate the advantages and limitations of the capability
approach it is useful to identify the basic sequence involved in the well-
being GB exercises. e rst task is to identify a list of capabilities that,
according to a fairly consensual view, can adequately reect the overall
well-being of a person, from basic capabilities like the ability to lead a
healthy life, to more complex ones like the ability to participate in social
life. Authoritative lists have been proposed (Roybens 2003; for a survey,
see EIGE 2013, 145), but even those lists which might emerge unam-
biguously at some point may need ne-tuning to reect the specic
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
215
socio-economic context. To proceed with the argument, let us assume,
nevertheless, that such a list can be identied. e challenge faced by a
capability-inspired approach is how to link each capability with budget-
ary policy. Assuming, in the interest of simplicity, that the budget is
organised by programmes, the challenge is how to link each relevant
capability to the outlays foreseen for each programme, as well as to the
way dierent departments in the administration under scrutiny partici-
pate in deciding and managing these programmes.
A specic tool has been devised to this end. Addabbo etal. (2010, 488)
present a matrix which they applied to a GB study for the Modena prov-
ince and the Lazio region and has been replicated in other cases. e
columns of the matrix are the dimensions which make up the well-being
of the population12 and the rows are the departments of the administra-
tion. Each element of this matrix is identied by two indices: the row-
index i and the column-index j; and the impact of department i on
capability j. Element ij of the matrix is zero when the budgetary decisions
of department i do not have any impact on dimension j. For example, a
programme against air pollution, managed by the public works depart-
ment, has no impact on the capability of “being educated and trained”,
but is relevant to the capability “living a healthy life”.
e second and third tasksinvolve, respectively, qualitative impact
assessment—that is, gauging whether the programmes managed by a
given department may be expected to have any impact on each of the
chosen capabilities, that is, in what proportion the programme aects the
dierent capabilities. Problems clearly arise when the expected impact is
greater than zerofor more than one capability. If each programme had an
impact on a single capability, it would be easy to evaluate how much the
administration spends for each capability by adding up the cost of all the
programmes which aect that capability. But each programme usually
has an impact on several capabilities. Likewise, each capability may be
aected by several programmes. Howthento evaluate how much is spent
for what? ere are two alternatives. Either no distinction is made and
the same expenditure is counted several times, which is not very useful,
or experts decide that the cost of a programme which is expected to inu-
ence capabilities A and B, is, say, 30 per cent spent for A and 70 per cent
for B.Of course this would bea highly subjective estimate.
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
216
e total expenditure which has thus been assigned to improve a given
capability is divided between men and women in the penultimate stage
(fourth task). Since the aim of the exercise is to improve the well-being of
women, this step is clearly necessary. Again, however, this division is
rather arbitrary. For example, the cost of a programme to improve road
safety was divided between men and women on the basis of the preva-
lence of women among accident victims(GenderCAPP, 2009). us if,
say, women are 60 per cent of the victims 60 per cent of the cost of the
programme would be assumed to benet them, with the paradoxical
result that if the share of female victims increased, the administration
would appear to spend more for the well-being of women!
e nal task involves calculating the share of total expenditure
devoted to further each capability and using it to measure of the commit-
ment of the administration to that specic dimension of well-being.
e methodological challenges of operationalizing the capabilities approach
are all too apparent from this brief review of concrete attempts to implement
the approach in Italy; and so are the weaknesses of some of the choices that
have been made during these attempts. is notwithstanding, concrete
implementation advanced analysis and methodology in certain respects. In
particular, it must be credited for having brought under the spotlight the issue
of coordination among dierent decision- making units of the local adminis-
tration. e construction of the matrix of capabilities at the initial stageof
capability-based GB exercises can, in fact, represent an eective tool to
encourage dialogue and enhance interaction and coordination within local
administrations. A non-trivial advantage is reducing the risk of local authori-
ties oering provisions that have opposite eects on a given capability.
Conclusions
e brief review of GB experiences in Italy presented in this chapter was
intended to be critical, and may therefore have under-emphasised the
achievements. Italian GB initiatives have been undertaken primarily by
local governments and on a discretionary basis. is local characteristic
helped spread awareness of the gendered nature of budgetary policies
across the country and across levels of local government. Also, the mush-
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
217
rooming of initiatives allowed for widespread experimentation. e dis-
cretionary nature of the initiatives meant that in some cases the institutions
sponsoring them provided strong support, although not infrequently
alleged support for furthering gender equality by means of GB practices
may have masked opportunistic interests in showcasing on the part of
local politicians.
e ip side of the coin was severe limitations in the scope, duration
and eectiveness of the exercises due to small scale and insucient conti-
nuity over time: most exercises depended not only on the political orien-
tation of the incumbent local government but also on the personal favour
of some of its members, both of which are inevitably short-lived.
However, our main proposition in this chapter is that “internal” limi-
tations may have prevailed over “external” limitations. A crucial limita-
tion is, in our view, methodological fuzziness coupled with and aggravated
by lack of coordination among initiatives. In the absence of common
standards and well-tested methodologies for GB at the local level, few
exercises actually went beyond in-depth context analysis and gender
auditing of personnel policy. ose which did look exclusively at the
expenditure side were, at best, able to perform qualitative ex-ante gender
impact assessment of selected policies and provisions. To our knowledge,
moreover, there was no follow-up to verify whether and how GB initia-
tives actually managed to change the budgetary policy of the administra-
tions that had promoted them.
At the same time, the GB initiatives were often costly given that the
administrations promoting them had to hire experts to assist the local
sta in conducting an unfamiliar exercise. With less than evident pay-os
(at least in the short run) and dwindling funds as the nancial crisis
progressed and EU changed its priorities, it is no surprise that the growth
of local-level GB in Italy has lost much of its momentum.
If we are right in deducing that internal limitations account for mixed
results more than external constraints and lack of resources, then sounder
methodology, common standards and coordinated eorts are called forth
to revive GB in the country. Our own contribution in this direction is the
preliminary attempt we made in this chapter to assess the main method-
ological approaches that have been concretely tried out on the ground. We
identied three main approaches, respectively account-based, policy- based
Gender Budgeting inItaly: ALaboratory forAlternative…
218
and capability-based GB.Based on our experience, our exchanges with
other experts involved in GB and the available records, we have briey
illustrated the main advantages and limitations of each approach.
Our bottom line is that eective GB needs to follow a common proto-
col and enhance its eectiveness through coordination across the dier-
ent initiatives. e (common) protocol we favour includes context
analysis aimed at carefully selecting just a few shared and feasible policy
priorities. Moreover, it sees policy proposals and ex-post monitoring as a
“must-do”. By this we mean quantitative monitoring of the cost-
eectiveness of the provisions which are already in place and are expected
to further the chosen objective priorities while alsoproposing new provi-
sions to be subsequently monitored. On balance, what we called the
policy-based approach comes closest to the protocol we favour. However,
what we are advocating needs to go beyond experimentation in this
approachto date and, in the process, borrow successful innovations from
the other approaches.
Notes
1. Law 150/2009 recommends GB as the (sole) instrument to assess the
performance of all public administrations in terms of equal opportuni-
ties. However, the law provides no further indications about methodolo-
gies, timing and responsibilities. In 2016 another law (Law 163/2016)
added a paragraph which invited public administrations to model their
GB on past experiences at the local level.
2. Other speakers included Rhonda Sharp and Haroon Akram Lhodi.
3. e reports of these very rst experiences are internal documents not
available to general public. e authors have a copy which can be made
available upon request.
4. Regional Law 16/2009 of the Tuscany Region promotes GB in all the
municipalities to assess the equal opportunity content of their policies.
Piedmont has a similar law (Regional Law 8/2009).
5. One exception is the 2011GB in the Region Piedmont which is an ex-
ante analysis (http://www.bilanciodigenere-rapportocondizionefemmini-
lepiemonte.eu/, accessed on April 24, 2017).
F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
219
6. As evidenced by the fact that even a recent report commissioned by the
Italian parliament (Ucio Parlamentare del Bilancio 2016), allegedly
presenting the state of the art of GB in Italy, actually shows many lacu-
nae and inaccuracies. For example, it neglects some important cases
(Marche Region, province of Siena).
7. See Provincia di Trieste (2012, 77).
8. e Capabilities Approach methodology as developed within Wellbeing
Gender Budgets is discussed elsewhere in this volume. For applications
to the Italian case, see below.
9. e same exercise was also carried out elsewhere, in particular for the
Pistoia province (See http://www.provincia.pistoia.it/FORMAZIONE_
PROFESSIONALE/BILANCIODIGENERE/Seminario22_02_2012/
Bilancio%20di%20genere_ProvinciadiPistoia.pdf; accessed on April 2,
2017).
10. Modena is a medium-size city (around 180,000 inhabitants in the early
2000s) and provincial capital in the Emilia Region, serving a (once) rich
manufacturing and food-processing district. Siena is a much smaller
town (around 50,000 inhabitants) located in the Tuscany region.
11. In 2001 the average Italian employment rate ranged from 58.2 per cent
for women aged 30–34 to 42 per cent for those aged 50–54.
12. e dimensions of well-being which make up the matrix come to nine:
“being educated and trained”, “living in healthy, safe places”, “moving
around in the territory”, “feeling safe”, “having access to resources”, “liv-
ing a healthy life”, “caring”, “having leisure time, enjoying beauty” and
“being informed”.
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F. Bettio and A. Rosselli
Book
Full-text available
Introduction The European integration process is confronted with massive challenges: Next to the urgent question of how to accommodate asylum seekers from Syria and other countries confronted with war, economic unsustainability, and international terrorism, the European Union has yet to overcome the effects of the financial and economic crisis post-2008. Southern and peripheral member states still have to face multiple endeavors. Firstly, to leverage their state debt and to fulfill the conditions of the Memoranda of Understandings or agreed with their respective government within the arrangements set in the European Stability Mechanism. Secondly, to ameliorate the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, staying within or crossing their borders; thirdly, to solve the social burdens societies have to face in the wake of austerity, housing evictions, joblessness, and poverty. A growing number of extreme right wing sentiments and right-wing populist parties in member states of the EU and extreme right parties gaining momentum across European societies topple all of these challenges. The above mentioned issues pose serious problems not only for some member states of the European Union, but for the European Union as a whole, since solutions can only be found if the member states agree on a further common agenda of how to tackle these issues. What we experience in recent policies is quite the contrary though. Instead of agreeing on quotas for asylum seekers across and between member states and a fair distribution of these within them, some member states have refused to take up refugees or have massively restricted the amount of refugees or asylum seekers allowed to enter their country or to seek asylum at all. Other member states, such as Hungary and Poland, have meanwhile also changed policies in favor of a more presidential, ‘illiberal’ or executive lead democracy, cutting back the rights of the Supreme Courts and restricting the freedom of the press, as well as public and cultural broadcasting by changing advisory boards in favor of the governing party. This has happened, among other issues, also in the wake of closed borders and discourses of the respective government not to support a common European refugee agenda. The book takes up all of these issues to uncover the "fault lines" in European integration.
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Abstract Feminist studies have developed several tools to assess the gender impact of public policy and of budgets in particular. In this paper we introduce an innovative approach to the gender auditing of public budgets inspired by the capability approach. First, we expand the scope of the assessment of the policy impact taking into account women’s multidimensional well‐being and the contribution of their unpaid work to other people’s well‐being. Second, we use a macro‐economic feminist perspective to make the capability approach operational in the policy space. Within this extended reproductive approach, gender budgets could become a tool for advancing a reflection on social and individual well‐being and for greater transparency on the gender division of labor, the distribution of resources and the share of individual and public responsibilities.
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In this paper we put public budgets in the context of current neoliberal austerity policy, clarifying along the way a widespread confusion between budgets as accounting tools and budgets as policy. In so doing we use first the surplus approach (Smith, Ricardo, Marx and Sraffa), as an open, policy-oriented framework that can acknowledge social complexity and deal with the current tensions inherent in the functional distribution between financial capital and living conditions. This approach places the normal conventional costs of social reproduction of labour at the centre of the determination of wages, residual profits and of the analysis of capital as «necessary consumption». This allows us to take social expenditure out of its present analytical marginality. We then expand the analysis of wages, using Amartya Sen's well-being concept of standards of living as a multidimensional composite of «capabilities and functionings», i.e. as potential and effective individual «doings and beings». Finally, we go back to budgets to introduce the idea of Well-Being Gender Budgets as experimental accounting tools, able to reflect the complex relation between means - public resources - and ends - the well being of real women and men embedded in social contexts.
Il Bilancio di genere
  • Giovanna Badalassi
Badalassi, Giovanna. 2014. Il Bilancio di genere. http://www.comune.genova.it/ sites/default/files/doc_sedute/bilancio_di_genere_comune_di_genova.pdf. Accessed 19 Apr 2017.
Gender in Public Expenditure Reviews
  • Barbara Bergman
Bergman, Barbara. 2005. Gender in Public Expenditure Reviews. In Public Expenditure Analysis, ed. Anwar Shah. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Come si costruisce un bilancio di genere Linee Guida per amministratrici/amministratori comunali, Pubblicazione a cura del Servizio Cultura, Pubblica Istruzione
  • Francesca Bettio
  • Simonetta Botarelli
  • Annalisa Rosselli
Bettio, Francesca, Simonetta Botarelli, and Annalisa Rosselli. 2006. Come si costruisce un bilancio di genere Linee Guida per amministratrici/amministratori comunali, Pubblicazione a cura del Servizio Cultura, Pubblica Istruzione, Politiche Sociali, Servizi alla persona dell'Amministrazione provinciale di Siena, Siena.
Gender Mainstreaming and Gender Budgeting. Paper presented at the Conference Gender Equality and Europe's Future
  • Diane Elson
Elson, Diane. 2003. Gender Mainstreaming and Gender Budgeting. Paper presented at the Conference Gender Equality and Europe's Future, European Commission.
Le politiche di pari opportunità e Il Bilancio di Genere della provincia di Siena
  • Siena Provincia Di
Provincia di Siena. 2013. Le politiche di pari opportunità e Il Bilancio di Genere della provincia di Siena.
Donne e Uomini per far crescere il territorio
  • Trieste Provincia Di
Provincia di Trieste. 2012. Bilancio di Genere. Donne e Uomini per far crescere il territorio. 2nd ed. http://www.provincia.trieste.it/opencms/export/sites/provincia-trieste/it/menu/documenti/allegati-documenti/Bilancio-Genere-2010-2012.pdf. Accessed 19 Apr 2017.
Esperienze e Percorsi di analisi gender mainstreaming della Regione Marche
  • Marche Regione
Regione, Marche. 2006. Il Bilancio di Genere. Esperienze e Percorsi di analisi gender mainstreaming della Regione Marche.