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Argentine, femme
In 2020, the Province of Santa Fe, the third most populous in Argentina, announced that it would vote a gender-responsive budget for the year 2021 for several programs. AFD is supporting its implementation – the latest in a series of moves to incorporate questions of gender in public policy.

Shortly after his election in late 2019 as Governor of the Province of Santa Fe, which has 3.5 million inhabitants, Omar Perotti initiated the creation of a Secretariat for Equality and Gender at the ministerial level. The establishment of a Gender-responsive budget for 2021 is proof of the province’s determination to take far-reaching and long-term action on gender inequality through public policy programs. This work has been conducted with AFD with financing from the Gender Project Start-up, Preparation and Monitoring Facility (FAPS).

Anchoring Gender perspectives in Public Policies

The Federal Government led the way back in 2017, by working on taking issues related to gender inequality into account in the national budget, but this is the first GRB for a province. In Argentina’s federal system, the provinces have the power to take concrete action to improve living conditions and reduce inequality.

“It’s the first time that we’re working with a gender perspective in a province”, said Governor Omar Perotti. “The budget is the structural element that allows us to gradually integrate the gender perspective into the definition of the public policies of our province. AFD’s support is invaluable, as we feel that there’s not only a serious work team, but also the real possibility of having a partner we can be in permanent contact with.”  

Julieta de San Felix, Provincial Secretary for International Cooperation and Regional Integration, said: “this project, which is based on four main components, is the result of three months of joint work between the teams of the Province of Santa Fe and AFD. The initiative is fully in line with the SDGs with the prospect of its long-term application.”  

13 budget programs 

The creation of a gender-responsive budget is a key component of AFD’s €350,000 in support. The first phase launched in the summer of 2020 was marked by work to inform and train officials and local technical teams. It closed with the vote of the first gender-responsive budget by the Provincial Legislative Assembly on 29 October 2020. 

“We’ve managed to include 13 budget programs in 10 areas of 8 different ministries in the province”, says Celia Arena, Secretary for Equality and Gender of the Province of Santa Fe. “Each division has committed to equality by allocating specific funds and setting targets which will allow us to generate specific indicators to evaluate the impact of these programs.” 

Two priority sectors have been selected for this with the common aim of reducing inequalities in access to basic public services: water and sanitation, along with digital technologies. This is a particularly innovative initiative for both AFD and Santa Fe.
The next step will be to measure the impact of the projects and address the needs of women and men, diversity, as well as collect and manage data. This is why a diagnostic of the system is necessary to assess the requirements for strengthening the provincial database. It is also important to propose a possible system to improve the use of data.

The last phase of the project is to integrate gender inequality issues in purchasing and procurement functions. The objective is to act on both the province’s public procurement supply and demand by including measures to balance contract awards based on gender criteria, as well as promote women’s entrepreneurship and better integrate women into the job market. AFD will also be supporting these two last components this year.

Santa Fe: a model for other provinces

“It’s AFD’s first project in Argentina where the fight against gender inequality is a core issue,” says Juan-Martin Sitjá y Balbastro, an AFD project officer in Buenos Aires. “While most of our projects already include this dimension, the objective here is to assist Santa Fe with an approach that aims to set an example and serve as a model for other local authorities, in Argentina and AFD’s other countries of operation. This action helps strengthen relations with one of our oldest partners and moves us towards a more comprehensive vision of the SDGs.”