Parliamentary gender bodies can exercise oversight and accountability



  • Are relevant parliamentary entities mandated, resourced and supported to scrutinise implementation of the government’s gender equality agenda?



Gender mainstreaming is essentially a form of parliamentary oversight. Without sufficient capacity and proper mandates for gender mainstreaming, however, the benefits of oversight (i.e. improved policies and processes) will not materialise. TIntegrating a gender perspective into existing oversight mechanisms improves the effectiveness of policy initiatives, can help pinpoint potential inequitable outcomes, and identify inclusive and innovative responses.

  • Importantly, oversight mandates can include powers for gender equality mechanisms to review and propose recommendations for amendments to budget bills:
  • Evaluating government budget plans from a gender perspective (ex ante gender budgeting);
  • Reviewing government/public expenditures from a gender perspective (ex post gender budgeting);
  • Issuing a gender report or statement as part of the budget bill.

Core functions of gender committees also include monitoring the implementation of gender equality legislation and ensuring that laws do not directly or indirectly discriminate against women and girls, as well as monitoring adherence to international gender equality obligations, such as CEDAW and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).



  • Integrating a gender perspective into existing oversight mechanisms, such as public hearings, scrutiny of government initiatives and questions to Ministers;
  • Empowering gender mechanisms to scrutinise budget bills and implementation;
  • Building the capacity of gender-mandated bodies, and parliament more broadly, to apply gender budgeting principles;
  • Implementing gender analysis as part of the review of budget bills by parliament.



  • Limited mandates of gender bodies to scrutinise government performance and policy implementation;
  • Restricting mandates of gender bodies to only scrutinise gender-related policy;
  • Ignoring gender as a criteria in assessing government performance or evaluation of policy implementation;
  • Uneven capacity building of parliamentarians and staff to review budget bills from a gender perspective.




The Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women oversees the governmental Status of Women Canada, as well as all government bodies that conduct work related to the status of women. The Committee, chaired by a member of the Official Opposition, is formally mandated to scrutinise government gender policy, programs, expenditures decisions and performance of these bodies. It also produces reports on specific topics, including the implementation of gender-based analysis at the federal level. Each fiscal year, the Committee reviews the main and supplementary estimates of the Status of Women government agency.

Furthermore, other parliamentary mechanisms are mandated to oversee government performance from a gender perspective as a whole. The Committee on Public Accounts requires all federal departments and agencies to report on the use of gender analysis in the development of policy and legislation. The Office of the Auditor General, an independent institution, also exercises oversight by reviewing the Canadian government’s gender mainstreaming performance.


The Lower House of the Swedish parliament ensures that gender is a key criterion in the formulation and oversight of the national budget. It has drafted a set of guideline whose methodology is based on gender-responsive budgeting tools and practices as a means to scrutinise revenue and expenditure legislation, so that the Committee on Finance can assess the impact of resources on women and men. For example, the Committee reviews the gender-specific breakdown expenditures in all sectors and conducts gender-disaggregated data analysis of the incidence of both direct and indirect taxes on men and women. Parliamentary bodies also engage in a gender-disaggregated data analysis of the impact of user charges or fees (such as court fees) on women and men. In addition, financial audits of expenditures and compliance must be assessed from a gender perspective. The gender budgeting findings are attached as an annex to the formal budget bill.