The success of having a feminist leading the IMF

av Catharina Schmitz

“I’m a feminist! many men say to me” says Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of IMF, “I answer them, show me how.

Since Lagarde become the IMF Managing Director five years ago, gender equality is on IMFs agenda and one of three priorities for 2017.

After fifteen years of working with gender budgeting initiatives aiming at integrating gender and human rights perspectives into public finance management, we are finally here, at the heart of Fiscal policies at the International Monetary Fund. I think all of us feminist economists pinched our arms while attending the seminar Fiscal policies and Gender equality at IMF on the 8th November.

We were a group of economists, practitioners, government representatives, academics and CSO representatives in the room, many of us leading the progressive reform work being presented at the seminar. The IMF study shows that gender budgeting is now widespread. More than 80 countries have tried some variant of gender budgeting. Out of these, 23 countries have prominent gender budgeting efforts, and NIRAS Indevelop leads the most comprehensive donor financed project at the Ministry of Finance in Ukraine. The gender budget initiative there was initiated over seven years ago and the current project is financed by Sweden.

Gender budgeting work has been in process over the last thirty years and is now finally being integrated into regular PFM processes. Last week’s meeting confirmed that institutions such as the WB, IMF, PEFA, and Global Transparency Initiative are all working on merging gender budgeting into their regular instruments. It is also promising to see that DFID is now training their PFM experts in gender budgeting! I hope that this will also happen at Sida.

We need to speed up gender budgeting to prevent the blog Lagarde wrote on the 14 Nov from coming true: “New research shows that global efforts to close the gender gaps in pay and labor force participation have slowed so dramatically over the past year, that full economic equality may not be reached for another 170 years. “

Therefore, I also quote Lagarde: “Are you prepared to wait until 2186?” Certainly not! Your generation has the opportunity—and the power—to bend the arc of history towards greater gender equality and more inclusive global growth.

Catharina Schmitz, Country Director NIRAS Sweden

Member of European Gender Budgeting Network