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Motion - Gender-Responsive Budgeting

Tuesday 8 March 2022

[3.23 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I rise to make a brief contribution to the member's motion, which has been mentioned on International Women's Day. As a female parliamentarian, I believe is an important topic to be discussed. It is undeniable that as stated in the 2019 statement of the IMF, gender-responsive budgeting is an economic imperative, as much as it is a human rights issue. We know countries that do not prioritise gender equality and the rights of women perform more poorly than countries which do. We know that societies that oppress women are far more likely to be more violent and less stable.

According to an article in The Economist from September 2021, the obstacles females face begin in the womb; families that prefer sons may abort daughters. This has been especially common in China, India, and the post-Soviet Caucasus region. Thanks to sex-selective abortion and the neglect of girl children, at least 130 million girls are missing from the world's population, by one estimate. In fact, I know of a well-known Launceston lady of Chinese descent who is very open about the fact her birth mother was told she was a boy incorrectly. Her birth mother had had five previous abortions between her middle sister and her, because they had all been girls and they were so desperate for a boy. Had the doctor not gotten it wrong, she would not be here today and would have been aborted. Fortunately for Tasmania, she was born a girl and as the family did not want to keep her, she was adopted to a loving family in Tasmania.

This is everyone's problem. In a country that has as much wealth and privilege as ours, it is up to us to continue and encourage good practices that promote gender equality. We know that societies which fail women fail themselves. Following the destruction of the Taliban in 2001, primary school enrolment of Afghan girls rose from zero per cent to above 80 per cent. Infant mortality fell by half and forced marriage was made illegal. We saw with horror those gains coming undone in August 2021, which goes to show how important it is to fiercely guard the high standards we have in Australia.

In that same Economist article, it is established that researchers at Texas A&M and Brigham Young universities have compiled an index of pre-modern attitudes towards women, including sexist family laws, unequal property rights, early marriage for girls, patrilocal marriage, polygamy, bride prices, son preference, violence against women and other similar benchmarks. Perhaps it will not surprise many here that these factors correlate significantly with violent instability in a country.

Policymakers and lawmakers can learn lessons from these benchmarks. They can tell us what we should do just as much as what we should not do. If we approach policymaking with normative standards in mind, such as those that promote gender equality, then we can improve outcomes for everyone. As a measure of society's advancement we can look to many types of benchmarks. However, one undeniable feature which is common to all advanced, functional, and prosperous societies, is that women's rights and gender rights are prioritised through measures like budget statements, robust discrimination laws, education and health care. Policymakers who fail to consider the interests of half the population cannot possibly hope to adequately represent them, nor lawmakers to properly legislate for them.

I thank the member for bringing the motion on.


[12.44 p.m.]

Ms WEBB (Nelson) - Mr President, I move -

That the Legislative Council notes:

(1)(a) The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Council of Europe defines gender-responsive budgeting as: “Gender budgeting is an application of gender mainstreaming in the budgetary process. It means a gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality”;

(b) In 2019, the International Monetary Fund stated, “Gender equity, achieved through gender responsive budgeting, is more than a human rights issue. It’s an economic imperative”; and

(c) Gender Equity Victoria defines the three key areas of gender budgeting as:

(i) gender-informed resource allocation whereby individual policy decisions and/or funding allocations take into account the impact of the decision on gender equality;

(ii) analysis at the sectorial level of the impact of decisions on gender equality within that sector or industry; and

(iii) assessment of the impact of the budget as a whole is subject to some degree of gender analysis.

(2) That the Legislative Council further notes:

(a) Australia was recognised as a pioneer and global leader in developing an analytical gender lens to evaluate economic infrastructure and outcomes, by including the nation’s first Women’s Budget Statement in the 1984- 85 Federal Budget;

(b) The national gender budget statement stopped being produced in 2014, but was reinstated by the federal government in the 2021-22 Federal Budget Papers;

(c) Victoria has produced a Gender Budget Impact Statement as part of its state budget papers since its introduction in the 1986-87 budget year; and

(d) Gender-responsive budgeting would provide another tool within the state legislative and policy framework to facilitate improved economic security for, and economic participation of, Tasmanian women and gender-diverse communities.

(3) That the Legislative Council calls upon the Tasmanian Government to:

(a) Develop genuine whole-of-government gender-responsive budgeting processes; and

(b)introduce an analytical Budget Gender Impact Statement as part of the 2022-23 state budget papers.


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