|Toward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)|
Until recently. the absence of input from beneficiaries often let's ignorant about how the costs and benefits of policy changes would be distributed among the population Today the views and needs of potential beneficiaries are being taken into account at both the macroeconomic and sectoral levels. This trend should make it possible to determine who benefits. who does not, and why. A good example of a situation in which a beneficiary's point of view can make a significant difference is in public expenditure reviews. Governments with unsustainable budget deficits must make difficult decisions about the allocation of public resources. Their task can of ten be facilitated by suggestions from the potential beneficiaries themselves, since one of the key questions policymakers face is whether investments as presently allocated are reaching the intended populations efficiently and effectively
Three broad approaches can be used to guarantee that the views of women and other intended beneficiaries are adequately reflected in policy and project formulation. First. surveys and other methods of collecting statistical data can be designed to ensure that gender-desegregated data are properly collected and analyzed. Second, beneficiary assessments, which use a range of qualitative research methods such as direct observation. selected individual of group interviews. and case studies. can be used to ensure that the views of all groups are adequately represented.
A third approach involves a range of participatory planning and management techniques that reflect a significant transfer of control to the community and local levels. Participatory evaluations use innovative research that allow illiterate and otherwise voiceless groups to express their concerns and priorities. Small grants and credits managed at the local level by NGOs or governments agencies permit a community to choose the projects that best reflect its OWN priorities. Social funds. whereby resources are channeled to demand-driven projects, are one such mechanism While these participatory approaches have been implemented primarily at the local level, they are also beginning to be used to involve the community in regional and national planning. Participatory methods, by helping to create local capacity. ensure the sustainability of projects and programs. They also help establish rational criteria for making public investment choices that incorporate both social and efficiency objectives.