Women-led CSOs have a crucial role to play in gender responsive budgeting processes and this fact has been the motivating force behind the project led by Association Fenomena in Serbia. Association Fenomena led an initiative in 2013 that is contributing to strengthen the role and engagement of women's organizations from less developed areas in Serbia to influence local policies and advocate for local GRB processes. It worked with eight women’s CSOs from seven towns/municipalities in western, central and southern Serbia (Novi Pazar, Kraljevo, Kragujevac, Užice, Kruševac, Niš, Leskovac).
The targeted municipalities focused on a wide range of sectors and issues that pertain to women’s needs and demands. For example, in Prijepolje and Novi Pazar, the focus was on gender analysis of funds allocated to sports to address women’s needs and assess and to address whether women and men are benefiting equally from current budget allocations. In Kraljevo, a gender analysis of municipal budget assessed aspects of transparency in budgeting processes, including budget preparation, implementation and reporting. In Kragujevac, a gender analysis of budget allocations for welfare services addressed the needs of survivors of VAW.
Leveraging the existing potential and experience of Serbia’s women-led CSOs, Fenomena brought a common agenda to influence local policy and GRB processes more effectively at the targeted sub-national level. The approach also accounted for the need to develop the capacities of the network to demand and monitor financing for gender equality as a common concern of western, central and southern Serbia.
These efforts are contributing to increased accountability of the local government in targeted areas to increase financing for gender equality by promoting gender-responsive planning and budgeting. The project strengthened advocacy skills of women's organizations on gender responsive investments and financing in their respective municipalities. The project built crucial partnerships among local actors and strengthened networks of women organizations from targeted towns and municipalities. It brought together local authority representatives including finance officers; local gender equality council representatives and stakeholders from the national level such as the Ministries of Finance and Labour, Employment and Social Policy and the Gender Equality Directorate.