A critical look at the Gender Responsive Budgeting approach in the development discourse | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437



Whether, and how, marginalised groups can locate their voices and achieve change within mainstream development organisations is one of the driving concerns of both political scientists interested in policy development and activists seeking social improvement. In development circles, the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) approach has come to be seen as an effective tool in strengthening women’s voices and interests in policy and budgeting, particularly among the poor and marginalised (, 2015). Indeed, budgets can play a key role in transforming societies, but much depends on how this approach is used and for whom. Enabling individual females to be better accommodated within highly unjust and unequal patriarchal societies is not enough. In this paper, I analyse how GRB has been framed in the current development discourse from a postcolonial feminist economics lens. I discuss the core GRB assumptions regarding women’s oppression and its implications for the female subaltern. In developing the argument, I map the GRB framework’s implicit social analysis and its promotion of idealised modernist institutions and reformulated neoliberalism, and I then criticise its widespread assumption that paid labour empowers women. I argue that feminist concepts and political tools like GRB must return to and reaffirm their transformative dimensions, thereby reasserting their association with forms of postcolonial collective action and solidarity that involve possibilities of social change.


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