In the period from 5th to 7th of April, representatives of the Gender Budget Watchdog Network from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia participated in a study visit to Dublin, i.e., the Republic of Ireland.
The purpose of the study visit was to exchange experiences and explore the possibility of building partnerships in order to enhance gender equality and gender responsive budgeting in the Western Balkans and the Republic of Moldova.
On the first day of the study visit, the team held meetings with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the equality focal point at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. At the meeting, the representatives of GBWN were introduced to the ways in which gender responsive budgeting, i.e. the equality budgeting, is implemented in Ireland. In addition, the importance of citizens’ assemblies organized in the process of deliberative democracy in Ireland was emphasized. One of the latest Citizen Assemblies – that of Gender Equality has proposed recommendations which, in return, government takes into consideration when making policies. The last meeting of the day was held with the Member of the Parliament Neasa Hourigan (Green Party) in the Houses of Oireachtas’ Dáil Éireann.
The next day, an online meeting with Laura Austin of the Higher Education Authority was held at the same time as a live meeting with representatives of the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN) and coordinators of NCCWN projects Rowlagh and Ronanstown in Clondalkin near Dublin. These meetings have significantly contributed to the team’s increased awareness of the role of civil society organizations in the decision-making process, and mechanisms for greater involvement of women from local communities and their needs in government policies and budgets. At the third meeting of the day, the team was hosted by representatives of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, including the Director Laurence Bond, who discussed the political preconditions that are a prerequisite for gender responsive budgeting or the equality budgeting to come alive.
The last day of the study visit to Ireland included a meeting with the official hosts of the Gender Budget Watchdog Network – the National Women’s Council of Ireland. This meeting resulted not only in the exchange of knowledge and experiences, but also in the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with the Council representative Jennifer McCarthy Flynn.
The Centre for Civil Society Promotion (CCSP), together with regional partners – Center for Research and Policy Making from North Macedonia, Gender Alliance for Development Center from Albania, Kosovo Women’s Network from Kosovo, Women’s Action from Montenegro, Gender Knowledge Hub from Serbia, and Keystone from Moldova, is implementing a three-year project “Gender Budget Watchdog Network in the Western Balkans and the Republic of Moldova”. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of organizations in the field of gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) and related issues. The project is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).