Towards Inclusive WASH Policy-Making: A case study of exploring barriers to adopting gender responsive budgeting (GRB) in the water and sanitation sector in Cape Town

This study investigates different potential barriers to adopting a Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) approach that aims to address gender inequalities in the WASH sector. The study explores the perspectives of civil servants, local politicians, and civil society representatives through semi-structured interviews, shedding light on the challenges faced in intensifying gender equality perspectives at the local government level in Cape Town, South Africa. Specifically, the study highlights the impact of lack of transparency, limited multistakeholder cooperation, and restricted gender equality awareness as key obstacles.

Drawing on Feminist Democratic Theory (FDT), and Postcolonial Feminism, the study reveals that these challenges affect the entire policy cycle. Notably, the research uncovers new complexities in relation to transparency, multistakeholder cooperation, and gender equality awareness across the input, throughput, and output stages of the policy process. While previous GRB research has predominantly focused on theoretical aspects and the policy process’s output stage, this study delves into the input and throughput stages as well.

By examining these stages, the study exposes underlying norms related to gender, race, and socioeconomic status as well as structures related to culture and history, thereby adding layers of complexity to the identified challenges. By comprehending and analyzing these underlying structures and norms, policymakers, politicians, and civil society can effectively confront the barriers, thus increasing the prospects for adopting an inclusive GRB approach.