Local Public Finance for Gender Equality – Launch of EQUANOMICS in the Philippines

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), officially launched the  EQUANOMICS initiative in the Philippines during an event on local public finance and gender equality which took place on 23-24 May in Manila. The event brought together key stakeholders, including 62 officers from BLGF, local treasurers, assessors, representatives from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and the UNDP Resident Representative.

Officials at the event

The Philippines is one of eight countries currently receiving support under the  EQUANOMICS initiative through UNDP’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Funding Window (GEWE) thanks to pooled contributions from the Republic of Korea and Luxembourg. The initiative aims to make taxation work for gender equality by (i) implementing the Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions at the Bureau of Local Government Finance within the Finance Department and (ii) prepare for gender-responsive local revenue reforms by building capacities and piloting gender impact tax assessments in cooperation with the Finance Department.

The focus on local revenue reforms in the Philippines is particularly relevant in light of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling by the Supreme Court, which empowers Local Government Units (LGUs) with greater fiscal autonomy and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the national development agenda.

The imperative for BLGF is to mainstream gender in our operations and offer guidance to LGUs on how to leverage local taxation functions to reduce gender gaps in their sectors and promote equitable allocation and management of resources.

Consolacion Agcaoili, Executive Director of BLGF
Officials at the event

Officials from the Department of Finance (DOF), including Assistant Secretary Karlo Adriano, underscored the important role of fiscal policies in advancing gender equality. Mr. Adriano highlighted measures such as targeted cash transfers as instrumental in narrowing gender gaps. Similarly, PCW Deputy Director Kristine Balmes stressed pertinent gender issues within the Philippine economy, such as low labor force participation among women and the gender pay gap. Addressing these issues, she emphasized, requires comprehensive reforms, aligning closely with the objectives of  EQUANOMICS.

Dr. Selva Ramachandran, the UNDP Resident Representative, reiterated UNDP’s commitment to fostering dialogue and building partnerships to create more inclusive economies. He emphasized the importance of empowering marginalized groups through fiscal and tax policies to promote equitable development.

As we redefine how we view and structure our economies, our goal is to empower groups whose narratives and voices have been overlooked in mainstream economics. We hope that women are empowered to claim their rights, particularly through fiscal and tax policies.

Dr. Selva Ramachandran, the UNDP Resident Representative

The launch event featured presentations on various topics, including the Gender Equality Seal for Public Institutions, Philippine progress on SDG 5, gender-responsive budgeting, and gender-responsive tax reforms. These discussions underscored the critical need to address gender equality issues within economic systems to achieve sustainable development.

 EQUANOMICS represents a crucial step towards mobilizing financing for gender equality globally. The partnership between UNDP and BLGF, bolstered by support from the Department of Finance and the Philippine Commission on Women, signifies a concerted effort towards realizing gender-responsive economic reforms in the Philippines.