5. Leveraging government tools to achieve gender equality objectives in Colombia

To achieve meaningful gender equality, governments must ensure that policies, regulations and other strategic tools of public governance are free of structural and systemic biases and stereotypes embedded in their baseline. Policy instruments are not neutral in application or impact. Research has shown that delivering social policy initiatives through the tax system can further marginalise low-income people, many of whom are women from ethnic minorities or people with disabilities (Bakker, 2011[1]). UN analysis has also demonstrated that most of the budget measures taken by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic lacked gender-sensitivity, and that only few of those gender-sensitive measures were designed to address women’s economic security and unpaid care (Zrinski, 2021[2]).

Applying a gender-sensitive lens to policies in areas such as infrastructure, budgets, regulations and procurement has the potential to improve gender equality outcomes. Indeed, it can help support women’s economic empowerment by redressing the structural inequalities that slow progress down. Governments are increasingly using such tools and decision-making levers strategically to promote more gender equal and inclusive societies (OECD, 2019[3]), especially in recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, which has exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities.

For example, regulatory decisions have played a key role in designing immediate, medium- and long-term responses to the pandemic, which increased the need for trusted, evidence-based, internationally co-ordinated and well-enforced regulation. Requiring countries to adapt regulations or introduce new ones, the COVID-19 crisis and recovery also offer the opportunity to reinforce a gender perspective in the regulatory policy cycle, including through gender analysis. Similarly, gender budgeting can facilitate informed decision making and mobilise public policies and resources towards transformative investments, with the aim of advancing the gender equality agenda and supporting recovery efforts that lead to a more equitable society. As part of recovery policies, public procurement can also be used to promote gender equality, by ensuring that women-led businesses receive timely information on procurement opportunities and can compete for bids on equal footing with ones owned by men (OECD, 2021[4]).

This Chapter analyses how gender impact assessments, budgets, public procurement and infrastructure are used as strategic tools to realise the government’s gender equality goals in Colombia. The following Sections analyse strengths and challenges and propose a series of actionable policy recommendations, as a way to increase the effectiveness of these tools and realise greater gender equality.

The 2015 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life (hereinafter, the 2015 OECD Gender Recommendation) calls for the integration of evidence-based assessments of gender impacts and considerations into various dimensions of public governance and across all phases of the policy cycle (OECD, 2016[5]). Gender impact assessments (GIAs) are a powerful instrument for delivering greater gender equality in all aspects of government policy. The COVID-19 crisis, forcing governments to take prompt action to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, has shed further light on the need to apply a gender analysis in policy development (OECD, 2022[6]).

GIAs have the potential to identify negative gender impacts on women and men from diverse backgrounds, allowing policy makers to adopt corrective measures to remove or counterbalance any unintended negative effects in a timely manner, as well as to build on lessons learnt and feed future policy development cycles.

However, GIAs can only be as effective as the quality of the data, evidence and analysis that goes into them. As laid out in the 2015 OECD Gender Recommendation, it is important to strengthen the evidence base supporting gender-sensitive policy making and governance, to promote data dissemination, increase the co-ordination among data collecting and producing bodies, and encourage collaboration with relevant stakeholders to develop better gender impact indicators. The move towards data-driven, innovative and digital governments, also accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, offers a window of opportunity to expand the availability of reliable and timely data on gender equality in different policy fields (OECD, 2022[6]).

This Section provides an overview of the scope for gender impact assessment in policy making in Colombia, while assessing the availability and use of data and information to support evidence-driven and gender-sensitive policy making and governance.

GIAs are widely used across the OECD to analyse policies throughout their lifecycle, to identify and evaluate their potential or actual gender-specific impact. There is no single blueprint for the process or methodology GIAs involve; indeed, a variety of approaches can be used to assess the gender equality-related impacts of a policy decision. While some countries have established requirements to undertake gender impact assessments as a separate analysis to accompany regulatory impact assessments (RIA), others have requirements to complete gender analysis as a component of a unique RIA. Box 5.1 describes different practices in GIA across the OECD.

In recent years, GIAs have gained momentum in decision making and are now among the most widely used tools for gender mainstreaming in OECD countries. A total of 26 out of 34 respondents to the 2021 OECD Survey on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance (hereinafter, the 2021 GMG Survey) report having a formal requirement for GIAs as of 2021, with at least 6 countries introducing/revising the scope of GIA requirements since 2017 (OECD, 2022[6]). Findings of the 2021 GMG Survey indicate that 20 out of 26 (77%) respondents have requirements to conduct ex ante GIA, and just 4 (15%) to conduct ex post GIA. Moreover, only 4 respondents (15%) reported having requirements to conduct continuous GIAs. GIAs can be conducted for a range of decision-making instruments, including those pertaining to policies, budgets and programmes. Figure 5.1 shows the types of decisions subject to GIA across the OECD.

Formal requirements to conduct GIAs do not inherently resolve implementation gaps. Despite recent progress, integration of GIAs into routine policy making across the OECD is limited. According to the 2021 GMG Survey, the most commonly reported challenges are the perception of GIAs as a tick-box exercise, the absence of binding requirements and the lack of expertise of policy makers. Notably, more than a quarter of respondents report that the lack of readily available gender-disaggregated data is a key barrier. To be truly effective, GIAs require robust mechanisms for checking their quality. Some OECD countries have introduced standards for quality of their GIAs, including optional training for civil servants and verification of application of GIAs by the central gender equality institutions and central governments (OECD, 2022[6]).

Colombia has no legal requirement to carry out ex ante or ex post GIAs. Public institutions at the national level do not conduct regular gender impact assessments in the development and/or evaluation of policies, programmes and projects. RIA, based on the framework provided by the National Development Plan 2018-2022 and the CONPES document 3816 of 2014, is carried out mostly for technical regulations and undertaken very rarely in the case of other subordinate regulations. The National Planning Department (DNP) establishes an annual agenda for the evaluation of policies and programmes, and some of these exercises may also include a gender focus. For example, in 2020, the DNP published the results of the impact assessment of the Free Housing (Vivienda Gratuita) programme, which also included an analysis of differential impacts by gender and of consequences on gender-based violence (GBV). Discussions with relevant Colombian stakeholders also revealed a common awareness in government entities of the need to make progress on this score.

Academia and civil society organisations, including NGOs and women’s groups, can be precious allies in gathering information on the potential or actual impact of government policies, and they should be consulted regularly (OECD, 2018[8]). More broadly, involving citizens and wider stakeholders in the policy cycle is fundamental in delivering better policy outcomes, strengthening trust in public institutions and reinforcing the democratic mandate for urgent and sometimes difficult decisions that need major buy-in (OECD, 2020[9]). Various mechanisms are already used in Colombia to consult citizens in the early stages of policy making, which could contribute to ex ante assessments of gender impacts of policy proposals. As laid out in Law 152 of 1994 establishing procedures for the elaboration, approval, execution, evaluation and control of the country’s development plans, all planning authorities at national, regional and territorial level are to ensure citizens’ participation in the analyses and discussions of their planning projects. In particular, as set forth by Article 342 of the Political Constitution, the Law also defines the composition and functions of the National Planning Council, which represents a space for social dialogue integrated by representatives of civil society and intervenes in the formulation of planning policies, thus also exercising some form of citizen control over public management. Line ministries in Colombia are also formally required to consult with stakeholders in the preparation of regulations. SUCOP (Sistema Único de Consulta Pública), a digital platform intended to centralise stakeholder engagement practices across all government entities, was recently introduced to facilitate the participation of the general public in the process of consultation during the rule-making process (OECD, 2021[10]). Such practices provide an important foundation for a sound knowledge base and building a gender approach in policy making, by bringing in the diverse views and needs of citizens.

With the support of UN Women, the DNP is working on a pilot programme to integrate a gender focus into evaluating national public policies and programmes in 2022. UN Women is developing an indicator and assessment guide to assist the DNP in conducting evaluations with a gender perspective. As exchanges revealed, the DNP finds it especially challenging to identify the issues and phenomena to be monitored through key indicators. The lack of information can also be an obstacle to identifying and understanding problems, an indispensable element for evidence-based decisions at all levels of policy making.

In the short term, Colombia could reinforce its public consultation practices by engaging with citizens and other relevant stakeholders to acquire a wider and deeper understanding of potential issues for women of diverse backgrounds. On this basis, line ministries could undertake needs assessments and analysis in their respective sectors and identify primary laws of potentially high impact on women to examine them against the objectives of the National Gender Equality Policy and in the National Development Plan. At this stage, the CPEM and the DANE, with the support of the OCM, could play a steering role in auditing the country’s data sources and publications to better understand existing gender gaps.

In the medium and in the long term, the government could develop a guiding framework for implementing GIAs, to ensure that all actors involved have the necessary knowledge, skills, capacities and resources to conduct meaningful and effective assessments. At this stage, following the example of an increasing number of OECD countries, the government could consider introducing a binding requirement to conduct GIAs for all policies, programmes, regulations and budgets, supported by criteria to ensure the quality and rigour of the analysis. A solid evidence base for gender-sensitive policy making should be built, improved and ensured over time. The following paragraphs provide details and analysis in this respect.

Data informs government action, feeds the policy-making process, and is crucial for delivering appropriate, evidence-based policy responses and outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of quality evidence for policy making, especially in the context of volatile, multidimensional and complex challenges (OECD, 2021[11]). Policy making and decision making supported by quality evidence and data can result in more effective public interventions and trust in public institutions and science (OECD, 2017[12]).

Gender-disaggregated data and evidence are an essential precondition for meaningful gender impact assessments at all stages of the policy-making process. Ex ante and ex post GIAs should rely on both quantitative data and qualitative insights – disaggregated by gender and other identity factors and drawn from various sources – to assess the prevalence of a phenomenon in the areas of a policy or legislative measure, as well as to systematically highlight the differences between women and men.

Across OECD countries, bottlenecks in generating and using data, however, are a significant barrier for GIAs and, more broadly, for implementing gender equality policies.

In responding to the 2021 OECD Survey on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance, Colombia reported various challenges impeding the systematic production, availability, accessibility, quality and use of statistics disaggregated by gender. In line with the responses of other OECD countries, these barriers include: i) the limited accuracy of existing data; ii) the lack of financial and human resources across the central level of government; and iii) a lack of co-ordination mechanisms between the national statistical office, the central gender institution and the line ministries. Similar gaps were also noted in exchanges with Colombian stakeholders across the government during the fact-finding mission.

Collecting disaggregated data is important for understanding the specific needs and experiences of diverse groups of people. The availability of disaggregated data allows policy makers to: explore unseen trends, identify vulnerabilities, detect challenges and pinpoint successful policies and strategies. The use of disaggregated data is also critical for policy makers who wish to assess the effectiveness of public services and adapt them to the needs of specific groups of society.

Several public entities in Colombia note particular limitations in the availability of gender data disaggregated by other characteristics, such as rural status, ethnic origin, disability, and migrant status. The scarcity of such data has been described as a key barrier to inclusive decision making at various stages of the policy cycle.

Efforts have been made to improve the collection and use of data disaggregated by gender and other characteristics at the national level. In March 2019, the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) created a new “differential and intersectional group” at the managerial level to fill gaps in the collection of statistics with intersectional and differential approaches. Bilateral discussions have emphasised the critical role played by the DANE’s leadership in enhancing the collection of disaggregated data. The “differential and intersectional group” of ten professionals (a co-ordinator, four economists, a psychologist, an anthropologist, an administrative assistant and two external advisors), is now funded by DANE’s technical direction and is the official point of contact for UN Women, which has been supporting the government's efforts to close existing information gaps in gender statistics.

As explained in Chapter 4, the DANE regularly develops a National Statistical Plan, which is the main statistical planning instrument of the country and contains strategic guidelines for the production and dissemination of statistical information. Other OECD countries count on similar plans to organise their statistical activities. In Spain, for example, the National Institute of Statistics is responsible for drafting the National Statistical Plan which covers a four-year period and is approved by royal decree. The Plan specifies the statistics that have to be compiled during that period by the General State administration or by any other of its dependent bodies, as well as the statistics to be developed with the participation of the autonomous communities and the local governments. An ex ante gender impact assessment is also carried out during the preparation of Spain’s National Statistical Plan, taking into account the requirements set forth in the Organic Law 3/2007 on effective equality between women and men.

In 2020, following the stipulations of the National Statistical Plan (Plan Estadístico Nacional – PEN 2017-2022), the DANE published a guide on intersectional and differential approaches for the national statistics system, as well as for private and public companies in Colombia. The guide, which contains recommendations on ways to include differential approaches in data collection, is accompanied by an official legal resolution (1448 of 2020) mandating that entities take action in this regard. Box 5.2 offers further details on the guide.

Evidence shows that some OECD countries have put in place legal or binding requirements to ensure that all data collected and disseminated by the government is disaggregated. In Spain, for example, the Organic Law 3/2007 on effective equality between women and men includes a similar provision. All surveys and censuses now administered by the DANE that use individual people as the unit of analysis allow for disaggregation by gender and include specific questions or variables to this effect. These include the National Survey on Time Use (Encuesta Nacional de Uso del Tiempo, ENUT), carried out every three years, which allows for collection of statistics on the gender division of labour in Colombia. As reported in the responses to the 2021 GMG Survey, data disaggregated by gender in Colombia are collected in such areas as general public services, defence, public order and safety, economic affairs, housing and community, health, and education.

Scope remains, however, to enhance the collection of data with an intersectional approach. For example, as discussions revealed, information on the situation of rural women was extremely limited before 2010. Today, the entities attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Colombia report collecting data on rural women that is disaggregated by gender but that does not consider such characteristics as migrant status and age. Progress has been made since the Directorate for Rural Women was set up in the Ministry, but many statistical exercises still do not differentiate by gender. Estimates provided by the Ministry suggest that more than 20 programmes in the agricultural, fishing and rural development sectors still lack this disaggregation.

As noted in Chapter 4, line ministries and other public agencies in Colombia face significant limitations in the availability of human and financial resources dedicated to gender affairs. This has a significant impact on the readiness and use of relevant data and evidence for policy making. As a result, it is challenging to collect, analyse, apply and disseminate gender-disaggregated data in a timely manner, especially in the absence of legal requirements.

Needs assessments and information on the situation of women in their respective sectors is scarce in national entities. In 2016, a study led by the CPEM focused on the institutional arrangements for gender mainstreaming and incorporation of a gender perspective in planning and budget processes. It found that of 35 entities assessed at the national level, 19 (54%) reported having no competence for diagnoses on gender inequality, 12 (34%) did not use this type of assessment, and 4 (12%) provided no information on the subject (Proyectamos Colombia, 2016[14]). However, such good practices as the Ministry of Energy’s sectoral studies, which summon a range of stakeholders to gather gender-based data on the sector, could be replicated in other ministries or sectors with the help of CPEM and the DNP (Box 5.3).

Meetings made clear that data integration is a major challenge faced by the DANE. Integration of data from different sectors is fundamental, particularly in covering such topics as gender-based violence. Converting administrative records into statistical records requires a high level of specialisation and storage capacity, and the DANE could benefit from increased funding and capacity for such work. Investing in cross-cutting training would also be beneficial, to increase the number of professionals able to collect, manage and store data.

In general, as noted in previous Chapters, Colombia would benefit from strengthening gender mainstreaming at the national and subnational levels. Institutions with enough qualified personnel are needed to ensure the systematic production, availability, accessibility, quality and use of statistics disaggregated by gender and other variables. Similarly, subnational administrations (gobernaciones and alcaldías) could make further efforts to gather data and statistics on the needs of women (especially rural women) in each jurisdiction, and also on the beneficiaries of projects, actions and policies introduced by local authorities.

Line ministries depend significantly on the DANE as their main source of data. Although some ministries also produce data, national entities could benefit from further co-ordinated exchanges of information. Bilateral meetings have revealed that no centralised system currently exists to store administrative records on the situation of rural women.

This is also the case for data on violence against women, and the fragmented information systems on gender-based violence leave room for improvement. Previous OECD work (OECD, 2020[16]) recommended strengthening the alignment between the data and service processes of the DNP and the DANE. This could tackle regional disparities and improve women’s access to justice, in particular for victims of violence, and lead to appropriate planning and provision of legal and justice services. According to the DANE, entities’ reluctance to share information is one of the main challenges to accessing data on gender-based violence. The CPEM could play a bridging role in this respect.

Similar limitations are observed at the local level. Colombia could benefit from enhancing the availability of data disaggregated by gender and by other identity factors, and facilitating line ministries’ access to data. With due respect to issues of privacy, sharing data that has been collected by the DANE and by other entities should be encouraged, both horizontally and between national and subnational institutions, as a systematic element of the policy-making process.

Governments have increasingly come to realise that the budget process is a powerful tool for delivering on national policy goals. Dealing with horizontal policy objectives such as gender equality in the budget process offers an opportunity to influence government-wide policy making and deliver on outcomes in a way that might not otherwise be feasible.

The “power of the purse” is gaining recognition as a way of ensuring that gender equality be systematically taken into account in tax and spending decisions. Data from 2022 shows that 61% of OECD countries now practice gender budgeting (Figure 5.2).

Gender budgeting is not a separate budget for policies concerning women. Instead, it aims to incorporate gender equality concerns in the decision-making process by:

  • raising awareness that many budget proposals have implications for gender equality (whether or not their primary objective is gender-related);

  • encouraging the tabling of gender-sensitive budget proposals;

  • using the budget process to secure adequate resources for national gender equality goals.

The OECD publication Designing and Implementing Gender Budgeting sets out a framework for an effective and enduring gender budgeting practice. This includes the following elements:

  • strategic framework: the political commitment and governance arrangements for gender budgeting, including the legal framework, institutional roles and responsibilities and national gender equality goals;

  • implementation tools: the tools that are used to apply a “gender lens” at various stages of the budget process – ex ante, concurrent and ex post;

  • an enabling environment: the supportive elements that help ensure a more effective gender budgeting practice, including gender-disaggregated data, capacity building and parliamentary oversight (OECD, 2019[18]).

The following Sections outline the current state of play in gender budgeting in Colombia, considering each of these elements.

A strategic framework for gender budgeting outlines why it exists, what it aims to achieve and how it is implemented. In assessing the strategic framework for gender budgeting in Colombia, this Section considers how far gender budgeting is supported by political commitment and legal foundations, strong institutional arrangements and clear national gender equality goals.

A number of international and domestic forces have provided impetus for the introduction of gender budgeting in Colombia. At the international level, Colombia is party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and recognises that both the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Sustainable Development Goals aim for the inclusion of a gender dimension in budget decision making. As part of the 2013 Santo Domingo Consensus, Colombia, with a number of other Latin American and Caribbean countries, agreed to include gender as a cross-cutting objective in the allocation of public funds. In addition, in 2015, the OECD’s Public Governance Committee recommended that Colombia consider integrating a gender dimension into all phases of the budget cycle.

Gender budgeting in Colombia has several foundations:

  • CONPES 161 of 2013 states that the government should identify a methodology that adds a gender lens to the public spending process. It also asks government entities to incorporate a gender dimension into their annual planning and budget processes.

  • Law 1753 of 2015, National Development Plan 2014-2018, requires the DNP and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (MHCP) to design a mechanism that allows government entities to include a gender dimension in annual planning and budget processes.

  • Law 1955 of 2018, National Development Plan 2018-2022, sets out the requirement for a budget tracer for the equity of women. It also requires the DNP and the MHCP to prepare a report on allocations using information from the budget tracer, to be presented to Congress by the following April. The DNP must also use the budget tracer to identify projects relevant to gender equality in its Annual Operational Investment Plan. Furthermore, the law establishes gender units in government entities with responsibility for promoting gender-sensitive budgets and states that the DNP, the MHCP and the Central Bank should add a gender dimension to their macroeconomic models.

These legal foundations provide a strong basis for ensuring the sustainability of gender budgeting in the longer term. They also put Colombia on a par with the majority of OECD countries that also practise gender budgeting, and have a legal framework underpinning it (Figure 5.3).

Strong institutional arrangements with clear roles and responsibilities for key actors underpin the operationalisation of gender budgeting. In Colombia, Article 221 allocates responsibility for the budget tracer for women’s equity, the main gender budgeting tool, to the DNP (responsible for planning) and the MHCP (responsible for public finances).

In the DNP, responsibility for the budget tracer for women’s equity lies with the subdirectorate for gender, set up in 2013. The subdirectorate is responsible for incorporating a gender approach into planning, in liaison with the MHCP and the Presidential Council for Women’s Equity (CPEM). Although the subdirectorate sits within the Directorate for Social Development in the DNP, its work is transversal. It has three staff members, which, as mentioned in Chapter 4, limits its ability to provide guidance to all government entities on integrating a gender approach into planning.

In the MHCP, responsibility for the budget tracer lies with the Directorate of the General Public Budget. Four people on this team work on the tracer, although this is just one element of their work. As with the DNP, this limits the MHCP’s scope of action for implementing the tracer.

Both the DNP and the MHCP work closely with CPEM on gender budgeting. The report to Congress with information from the budget tracer is consolidated by CPEM, using information gathered by the DNP and the MHCP. This joint institutional approach facilitates a collective effort in implementing gender budgeting. Co-ordination has been strong to date, even though no formal co-ordination mechanisms are in place. This may partially be due to the budget tracer’s status as a new initiative, and over time, there is a risk that this co-operation may wane. An inter-agency working group could ensure that regular communication continues between the relevant entities. 30% of OECD countries that practice gender budgeting report having such a group (OECD, forthcoming[17]). An example is provided in Box 5.4.

Gender budgeting is most effective where clear national gender equality objectives have been laid out. As noted in Chapter 3, in March 2013, the Colombian government approved a National Policy on Gender Equality (CONPES 161) that aims to co-ordinate efforts across the whole of government to guarantee women’s equality and non-discrimination. It sets out seven fundamental gender equality goals. Five of these goals were used as a basis for setting the categories in the budget tracer for women’s equity. The other two are administrative goals, rather than policy goals (e.g. to promote gender mainstreaming by public entities).

While drafting this Review, the government of Colombia developed a new national public policy for gender equality (CONPES 4080), published in April 2022. The categories in the budget tracer for women’s equity are also likely to be updated to reflect the new goals contained in the policy.

The National Development Plan 2018-2022: Pact for Colombia, Pact for Equity also includes a chapter, “The Equity Pact for Women”, setting out specific targets for women’s equity, for which the Presidency of the Republic has allocated COP 5.4 trillion. These targets are broadly aligned with the goals for women’s equity in the National Policy on Gender Equality, although the direct read-across could be more clearly delineated, to help ensure policy alignment and ensure clarity of focus for the gender budgeting initiative.

Gender budgeting tools can be used to embed gender considerations in the overall context of the planning and budget process systematically. This Section reviews the gender budgeting tools used by the government of Colombia to bring a “gender lens” to the budget process. Three main tools are used for gender budgeting: i) the budget tracer for women’s equity, ii) gender budget statements to Congress, and iii) the integration of a gender dimension into the planning process. As noted above, the government of Colombia will also shortly be adding a gender perspective to evaluation.

The budget tracer for women’s equity was created through Article 221 of Law 1995, relating to the National Development Plan 2018-2022. Its purpose is to identify public funds being used to support women’s equity. It is able to show how much of the budget is allocated to the promotion of gender equality across different areas, and levels, of government.

The budget tracer has three stages. During the first stage, the user identifies actions, programmes or policies that help support women’s equity. In the second stage, the user identifies the resources associated with the activities identified in the first stage, and their source of financing. In the third and final stage, users identify the specific goal these resources target. The five possible categories are shown in Figure 5.4.

In addition, the user identifies whether the action helps achieve any additional goals, e.g. those set out in the NDP 2018-2022, the Sustainable Development Goals, or a sectoral plan.

The users of the budget tracer are policy managers at all levels of Colombia’s public sector. As with any budget tagging tool, it is important to ensure that users tag their activities accurately. The DNP and CPEM have been working with government entities to build capacity in this regard, but resources are limited. It has been helpful for DNP and CPEM to have gender “champions” to work with in some national entities, and it could be helpful to have such allies in every ministry, as well as within entities at the local level.

Of the 32 sectors and 190 entities in the Colombian public sector, 23 sectors and 40 entities reported budget allocations designed to help achieve equity for women in 2021. If sectors and entities do not report such budget allocations, it is largely because they have not identified relevant investments. This may evolve, as capacity is built in government entities and greater understanding is achieved of how a broad range of activities can impact women’s equity.

The vast majority of activities included in the tracer were investments (99.6% in 2021), with the remainder related to operating expenses. The total budget identified as contributing to women’s equity using the tracer over the period 2019-2021 is shown in Table 5.1.

In the period 2019 to 2021, the budget total identified as supporting women’s equity using the tracer has increased substantially. This is likely to be driven by better understanding among government entities of how to identify relevant activities using the tracer, as well as increased take-up of government programmes supporting women. As for how much was allocated to each category in the budget tracer, the majority of funding was allocated to “Economic autonomy and access to assets” (84.4% in 2021), with a further 14.9% allocated to “Life free of violence”.

A key benefit of the budget tracer is that it helps ensure that investments in women’s equity are not reduced or eliminated without due cause. If funding allocated to one of the five categories in the tracer is reduced, a mechanism flags that the change in funding must be checked by the DNP. The DNP checks that the reduction is justified and that the reduction for that activity is proportional to reductions in other areas.

The tracer is also being used by the Supreme Audit Institution to analyse how entities are spending their resources. It is particularly helpful to inform the institution of the funding being allocated to UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.

Overall, use of the tracer has raised awareness across the government of actions that are being taken to help close gender gaps.

The information from budget tagging in OECD countries is often presented in a consolidated gender budget statement. This is also the case in Colombia. Article 96 of Law 2008 of 2019 stipulates that the Budget Bill include an annex with information from the budget tracer on spending targeted to women’s equity. Published around July/August annually, it shows allocations for women’s equity for the upcoming budget year.

A second report must also be presented to Congress by April and includes information on allocations for women’s equity for the previous budget year. There have been two reports so far, one in 2020 and one in 2021 (see Figure 5.5). A third was due to be published in April 2022.

The reports have been well-received by Congress. The Commission on Equality, a bicameral commission in Congress, holds a special session at which the report is presented, with the DNP, MHCP, CPEM and relevant ministries in attendance.

A key challenge related to the publishing of these reports is that the allocations for women’s equity for the previous year are usually much higher than those programmed for the forthcoming year. This can cause confusion among parliamentarians, the obvious interpretation being that there has been a reduction in funding for activities to support women’s equity. In reality, the allocations are lower as a result of the reluctance of entities to tag activities as being relevant for women’s equity until the money has been spent. Hopefully, such hesitancy will be reduced in time.

These reports could be further elaborated upon as gender budgeting is developed. The Mexican gender budget statement for example, in addition to a gender allocations report, includes a general gender budget statement, a gender impact analysis of specific budget measures, a gender equality progress statement and gender impact analysis of the budget as a whole (OECD, 2019[18]).

Colombia has made concerted efforts to include a gender dimension in the planning cycle. Government entities are encouraged to undertake gender needs assessments to better understand gender gaps and needs in a given area. The findings are then used as a basis to identify objectives in relation to gender gaps, and indicators to track progress (see Figure 5.5).

Integration of a gender dimension into planning at the local level in Colombia has been particularly successful. As noted in Chapter 3, all 32 departments include a chapter on women or gender equality in their Departmental Development Plans. A key challenge now is to replicate this success at the municipal level, where progress is slower.

The long-term goal of integrating a gender dimension into the planning cycle is to improve the selection of performance objectives and indicators on gender equality for different budget programmes.

As gender performance objectives are embedded in government programmes, a gender perspective in evaluations should naturally follow. This ensures that programmes and policies are evaluated on how effectively they have met their gender equality objectives. Lessons from these evaluations can inform budget decisions on whether or not to continue funding certain programmes, or to make funding contingent on certain design changes.

As noted earlier, the DNP is working on a pilot programme to integrate a gender focus in the evaluation of national public policies and programmes in 2022. The goal is for at least one evaluation with a gender focus to be conducted each year. Colombia might like to consider Austria’s practice of incorporating a gender perspective into performance audits (see Box 5.5).

Gender budgeting is most effective where there is a supportive enabling environment. In assessing the environment for gender budgeting in Colombia, this Section looks at the extent to which there is clear guidance as well as training and capacity development for government staff, systematic availability of gender disaggregated data, appropriate IT tools, civil society engagement and a modern budgetary framework.

To increase openness and understanding on gender budgeting throughout the public sector, it is helpful to have details and instructions on the application of gender budgeting in the annual budget circular, as well as training and capacity development to help to institute practices over the long term.

In Colombia, instructions on how to use the budget tracer are provided in the Budget Circular. Specifically, officials are reminded of the duty to identify relevant allocations in the IT systems and use the budget tracers available to identify the focus of resources.

In addition, investment in training has been made, as well as capacity development for government staff on how to use the budget tracer for women’s equity. This has included workshops, online courses and face-to-face technical support sessions on gender-focused planning and budgets, as well as the use of the budget tracer, for different national administrative sectors. The lead agencies for the budget tracer have noted a need for further capacity development, particularly at the regional and local level. However, this is challenging to implement, given the limited resources available.

As noted in Chapter 4, having gender units in some ministries has been particularly helpful for developing capacity in the government. These units have been building knowledge that is then shared across the ministry. It has been suggested that setting up gender units as standard practice in each government ministry, as is done in Mexico, could prove helpful, improving government capacity for using the budget tracer. This would give line ministries points of contact for help or advice on use of the tool.

While line ministries should adopt the institutional structure that best fits their needs and activities, gender units in each ministry would help draw together the appropriate representatives from each government entity, providing a forum for discussion of key challenges and for sharing best practices.

As noted in the previous Section, gender-disaggregated data is key if governments are to understand needs for gender equality and for developing gender sensitive and evidence-based policies. In Colombia, it is particularly important for integrating a gender lens into planning and performance monitoring and budgeting.

In the area of budgeting, Colombia could look to Canada for inspiration. Canada has focused on improving the availability of gender-disaggregated data as part of its gender budgeting efforts (see Box 5.6).

Efforts to introduce gender budget tagging will test whether a country’s internal budget management systems and IT tools are fit for purpose. In Colombia, the DNP and MHCP developed technological tools to identify budget allocations to support women’s equity, using a special budget marker in their information systems.

The DNP registers investment projects through the Single Public Investment and Finance System (SUIFP), with entities identifying whether a project is relevant to women’s equity. For operating expenditure, the MHCP developed the Trace App, through which entities can report whether or not expenditure relates to women’s equity. CPEM consolidates the information from both DNP and the MHCP, using Excel.

Although the existing tools function well, there is scope for greater sophistication. Further developments could help to require that entities include relevant information. Any efforts to improve the sophistication of the IT tools should also consider the scope for integrating different IT systems in use across government, including local and national IT systems.

An open government approach can ensure that the policies and programmes advocated for in the budget proposal respond to citizens’ needs for gender equality and that gender budgeting does not lose contact with its feminist-inspired origins and critical perspectives.

Colombia’s government has engaged with civil society over the budget tracer for women’s equity. A civil society DataQuest event was held in March 2019, offering a forum to debate equality for women in relation to public spending in Colombia. However, there is still scope for greater engagement with civil society. To support this, the government hopes to publish materials on the budget tracer specifically for civil society, avoiding technical language.

The report to Congress on the budget tracer is a useful tool for engagement with civil society, as are the plans to upload information from the tracer to the open government portal.

Evidence from across the OECD shows that gender budget tagging should be supported by a modern budgetary governance framework that includes programme budgeting and strong links between planning and budgeting. In Colombia, programme budgeting has not yet been set up. Furthermore, there is a weak link between planning and budgeting and no culture of results-based management. Reforms to introduce programme budgeting and strengthen the link between planning and budgeting will help provide a more solid foundation for the application of the budget tracer and other gender budgeting tools.

Gender budgeting has only recently been introduced in Colombia, which benefits from a number of core strengths already in place. These include the strong strategic framework guiding gender budgeting efforts, including legal foundations and clear institutional arrangements. In addition, a formal set of gender equality goals is set out in the National Policy on Gender Equality, which provide objectives for gender budgeting.

The budget tracer for women’s equity is the core gender budgeting tool. It has a clear methodology in place, with good alignment between the categories in the tracer and the gender equality goals in the National Policy on Gender Equality. The rollout of the tracer has been steady so far, aided by training and capacity development provided by lead institutions. However, it has not yet been consistently implemented across different sectors and levels of government, and further institutional capacity at both the national and local levels will be required. Functionality for the tracer has been integrated into relevant IT systems in the DNP and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (MCHP), but further refinements could be made.

Information from the tracer is highlighted in a report to Congress, and this is an important accountability mechanism. It should also be noted that it is planned to present this information on the transparency portal.

Colombia is integrating a gender perspective into planning and performance setting, with plans to expand the gender budgeting toolkit and include a gender dimension in evaluations. This will be supported by greater availability of gender-disaggregated data and development of performance indicators on gender equality.

The tools adopted so far have helped to highlight the importance the government attributes to matters of women’s equity, but there are limitations. The tracer is focused at present on promoting allocations for activities that support women’s equity, but does not identify projects that negatively impact women’s equity. In addition, information from the tracer has improved transparency on the amount of money allocated to women’s equity, but is not yet influencing decisions on resource allocation, which has limited its impact of the tracer in its current form.

This Chapter nevertheless offers a path for action for gender budgeting and aims to provide a vision for it to become effective in mobilising government resources for progress on gender equality.

Public procurement refers to the many ways in which governments plan, source and manage the acquisition of goods, services and works, using a range of contractual arrangements and purchasing tools. It is a significant policy instrument, accounting for 29% of government expenditures and approximately 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the OECD area (OECD, 2019[22]). In Colombia, public procurement represents 11.5% of GDP.

The 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Public Procurement proposes concrete steps to encourage member states to evaluate the use of their public procurement policies and processes to pursue strategic objectives, including gender equality (OECD, 2015[23]). Governments are increasingly leveraging public procurement to pursue complementary policy objectives. In this context, gender-responsive procurement policies and practices have the potential to promote gender equality and encourage suppliers to support women’s empowerment, contributing to a whole-of-government response to tackle persisting gender gaps and vulnerabilities.1

Gender-inclusive public procurement involves the introduction of gender requirements and considerations into related policies and practices, in order to use it as an instrument to promote gender equality (OECD, 2021[25]).

Gender-sensitive public procurement could help Colombia meet its commitments to foster inclusion and sustainability under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Growing concern is reflected in the increasing attention paid to gender inequality by different international organisations. During its 2014 Brisbane Summit, the G20 committed to reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25% by 2025 (the 25 x 25 goal). Diverse policy actions, including public procurement policies, are being leveraged in G20 countries to move this commitment forward (OECD, 2021[25]).

The trends described above are moving countries to redefine the concept of value for money in public procurement, as a way to promote policy coherence. Such new concepts of value for money require specific tools and mechanisms and may involve the introduction of gender considerations and requirements into public procurement policies and processes, leveraging public procurement to improve gender equality (Burgi, 2017[26]).

This Section reviews the different tools and mechanisms Colombia is using to promote gender equality through public procurement, as well as the challenges that policy makers and procurement practitioners face in promoting gender equality through public procurement.

As discussed in Chapter 4, a sound institutional design is necessary for the promotion of the government’s gender equality agenda. A strong institutional set-up facilitates the strategic use of all government tools for gender equality purposes, and this Section focuses on its importance for fostering gender-sensitive public procurement.

Political commitment and leadership are always key elements in advancing innovative or disruptive policy measures. The OECD report Making Reform Happen: Lessons from OECD Countries notes that the different reforms assessed in the analysis all point to the need for strong leadership. If the government is not united around a reform proposal, it sends out mixed messages, and opponents are able, usually successfully, to exploit its divisions and resist reform (OECD, 2010[27]).

Strong leadership is all the more necessary because incorporating complementary policy objectives into public procurement adds to the complexity of the processes, which in turn encourages officials to resist reform. In many Latin American contexts, price considerations prevail over wider concepts of value-for-money.

The Colombian government’s central purchasing body, Colombia Compra Eficiente (CCE), has already enacted measures to incorporate gender considerations into public procurement. These are primarily intended to encourage the participation of women in the purchasing system and in suppliers’ staff. It is important, though, that these efforts be situated in the whole-of-government context. For example, gender-sensitive public procurement could be used as a tool in policy documents such as the update of CONPES 161 of 2013, which outlines national public policy on gender equality. CCE could be invited to join and actively participate in the committees and working groups that promote gender equality and mainstreaming in the whole-of-government, such as the CONPES 161 follow-up commission (Comisión Intersectoral de Seguimiento al CONPES 161). Moreover, gender-inclusive procurement could be used as part of the policy package the government is using to recover from the economic and social effects of COVID-19, recognising that the pandemic has hit women particularly hard (see Box 5.8 for an example from Spain).

The actions outlined in the previous paragraph would serve several purposes. First, they would raise the profile of public procurement as an arena for advancing gender equality, reinforcing the notion that contracting authorities should embrace gender-sensitive public procurement, leading to policy coherence. Second, they could empower CCE to lead and co-ordinate efforts to facilitate the adoption of gender inclusive procurement. This would motivate CCE to build on previous efforts and develop its expertise on gender policies. Different deputy directorates (subdirecciones) in CCE now have responsibilities for promoting gender equality. Third, by clearly indicating political commitment, such measures could potentially direct resources towards gender-sensitive procurement. This is important since, for example, the Department of Boyacá reports the lack of resources as one of the main challenges for gender inclusive procurement. More concretely, these measures would enshrine gender-inclusive procurement in Colombian policy, beyond the term of any particular administration in the jurisdictions of departmental or city governments.

OECD research has identified a common challenge to incorporating gender provisions in public procurement as the lack of a clear understanding about how it can be achieved. This lack of awareness of how to implement gender-related issues accounts for 38% of the responses captured in the OECD Survey on leveraging responsible business conduct (RBC) through public procurement (see Figure 5.7) (OECD, 2021[25]).

The need to raise awareness and understanding was also recognised by Colombian institutions in the fact-finding questionnaire for this review. Lack of interest and understanding by the different institutions was cited as one of the main obstacles for gender equality programmes and initiatives. Lack of a strategic framework to incentivise the commitment from the whole of government was another major limitation cited. Here again, an updated CONPES would be useful to tackle these obstacles and promote awareness of the strategic role public procurement can play in advancing the gender agenda.

The first question the regulatory or the strategic framework should address is whether public procurement is the right tool to improve gender balance. While public procurement is increasingly leveraged to achieve complementary policy objectives, governments should first assess to what extent it is the correct, and only, tool to promote gender considerations. Such assessment should bear in mind different elements. First, it should consider conflicting objectives and priorities. For example, a government may want to leverage public procurement to promote small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and gender objectives at the same time. Authorities will thus need to define which is the priority and how these two objectives will co-exist. Colombia is, to some extent, pursuing these two objectives in public procurement. Second, contracting authorities should analyse how far the capacity of the procurement workforce can support incorporation of gender-based considerations. Governments should also bear in mind the burdens created by the requirement that contracting authorities and suppliers incorporate gender objectives. Market engagement, for example, can be useful to determine if the supplier market can accommodate gender considerations (as will be discussed further below).

Figure 5.8 shows some of the main questions to ask in considering whether public procurement is the right approach for accommodating gender objectives.

As mentioned above, CONPES 161 of 2013 does not explicitly anticipate the implementation of gender-sensitive public procurement. The same applies to the National Development Plan 2018-22 (Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2018-2022 “Pacto por Colombia, Pacto por la Equidad”). As explained in Chapter 3, this National Development Plan (PND) includes the programme “Pact for Women’s Equality” (Pacto de equidad para las mujeres) aiming to i) design strategies for the equitable participation of women in the labour market to enhance their economic situation in environments free of violence; and ii) promote public innovation to improve gender equality in the labour market. In this sense, the government’s objectives are not only to increase employment opportunities for women, but also to implement strategies to improve working conditions and contribute to gender equality in all kinds of businesses.

The PND in its Section on effective public spending includes a goal to simplify and optimise public procurement, which in turn includes a strategy to develop a socially and environmentally sustainable procurement system. One of the strategies aims to include social and environmental considerations in framework agreements, but includes no direct reference to gender-sensitive criteria.

Currently, the instruments issued by CCE basically focus on increasing the participation of women in the labour market. CCE first issued Concept C-567 on 10 September 2020, establishing that public entities can set contractual obligations to materialise horizontal policies and that nothing prohibits contracting authorities from introducing requirements guaranteeing that contractors have a minimum percentage of women as part of the staff executing the contract.

It later issued a statement (Circular 004-2020 on 27 October 2020) inviting public entities to include social considerations to set a minimum percentage of women’s participation in contract execution. It aims to promote affirmative actions, by designating women as a group for special protection under the Constitution (sujeto de especial protección constitucional).

The concept and the statement described above were the first steps in advancing gender-sensitive procurement. In December 2020, the Legislative Branch issued Law 2069 to promote entrepreneurship in Colombia. Article 32 establishes that in line with sector analyses, public entities will include different requisites and grant additional points in procurement processes as affirmative actions to incentivise women-owned businesses (empresas de mujeres) and entrepreneurship. Likewise, Article 35 sets tie-breaking criteria, the second of which consists of favouring businesses from female heads of families, female victims of violence within the family, or companies where such women are majority holders. However, these gender-based benefits and advantages would only be enforced following the issuing of a regulating decree.

The regulating decree was published on 24 December 2021 (Decreto 1860 de 2021). It provides a concrete definition of women-owned businesses to facilitate the implementation of affirmative actions. Likewise, it establishes that women-owned businesses can receive up to 0.25 points, as established in the conditions and tender documents. It also establishes how to implement and validate the tie-breaking criteria relative to women heads of family or victims of violence within the family. CCE is currently reviewing international practices and assessing how implementation will work in practice.

In line with previous rules, CCE issued model template documents for the sectors of transport infrastructure and water and sewage. Annex 5 – Contract attachment (Anexo 5 – Minuta del Contrato) establishes contractual obligations for contractors, to ensure a minimum amount of female participation in the execution of the contract, promoting access to and equitable gender participation in the labour market. The suggested percentage is 5%, but it can rise to as much as 30% according to sector analyses and features.

Brief references to gender considerations in public procurement are included in the Guide for socially responsible public procurement (Guía de Compras Públicas Socialmente Responsables), issued by CCE. This establishes that social sustainability objectives include criteria to promote equality for vulnerable groups, such as women. It encourages a new definition of value for money that includes more than simply price considerations and is consistent with national policies and priorities. Concretely speaking, the Guide mandates public entities to incorporate evaluation criteria and measures to protect and encourage the participation of women in public procurement and opens up the possibility of adopting a differential approach to offer equal opportunities to men and women. Finally, it calls on public entities to establish a dialogue with suppliers to ensure they assume clear and concrete commitments, as well as to monitor compliance.2

Some experiences of this kind are seen at the subnational level, but progress varies by jurisdiction. The City of Bogotá, for example, issued a decree to establish affirmative actions to promote the participation of women in public procurement markets. Unlike the CCE rules, this decree adopted a gradual approach, as a way to encourage potential suppliers and contractors to hire women. It is not clear whether this approach originates in data from market analyses and engagement strategies indicating the capacity of suppliers to accommodate the percentage of women required to execute contracts. Such evidence would be helpful to assess whether the progressive requirements have been adapted to the current conditions of the suppliers’ staff. The decree mandates local contracting authorities to include in the terms of reference and tender documents the duty to hire and maintain a minimum percentage of women to execute the contract. The requirement varies by sector, as illustrated in Table 5.2.

The instruments described above constitute the current framework in Colombia for advancing gender-inclusive procurement. Of the countries that replied to the OECD Survey on leveraging RBC through public procurement that have a framework for strategic objectives in public procurement, 57% include gender-related considerations (see Figure 5.9).

A framework is always a good start, and Colombia should build on previous achievements to require more female participation in the staff of suppliers and contractors. This could help fulfil the objective set in the PND to improve working conditions for women. For example, the current framework could be reviewed to amplify the various mechanisms and tools incorporating gender considerations in public procurement. Figure 5.10 illustrates the tools available applicable throughout the public procurement cycle.

In line with the previous figure, CCE could launch initiatives to expand requirements for women’s participation to include equality in salaries for men and women, as well as to extend the conditions to the supply chain beyond tier 1. Similarly, it could incorporate a gender perspective into needs analyses. This would mean assessing how procurement operations can impact gender equality and how differences in roles, activities, needs, opportunities and rights/entitlements affect men and women in certain situations (see Box 5.9 for the experience of Belgium).

At the same time, it would be beneficial to engage the market in gender-inclusive procurement. Market dialogue for gender inclusive procurement can be useful to i) identify potential bidders and solutions with positive impacts on gender equality; ii) build capacity in the market to meet gender-equality requirements and special gender-based needs; iii) inform the design of the procurement strategy, tender documents and contract, so that gender equality criteria are relevant, achievable and non-discriminatory; and iv) provide feedback to suppliers after the procurement process.

As noted in previous Sections, efforts should also be made to apply a gender lens to impact assessment of procurement operations. This may include assessing how potential procurement under consideration can incorporate gender provisions, as well as the projected impacts on women and men once the procurement opportunity has been carried out. The Swedish checklist for contracting authorities on gender impacts offers a practical illustration of this practice (see Box 5.10).

Moreover, CCE could take initiatives to account for gender-specific risks. This would help identify adverse social impacts, including risks to gender equality, linked to different purchasing categories in relevant value chains. It could also help identify events or conditions that may prevent the planned procurement from meeting gender-related objectives and anticipating mitigation measures.

Finally, it could consider adopting ex post evaluation of gender objectives in contracts. This practice provides insight into what worked and what did not, but to be effective, it requires collection of performance data to build a baseline for future contracts.

The initiatives to implement tools to adopt gender-inclusive procurement should be coherent with the overall policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women and bear in mind the efforts, concerns, and potential overlaps of a variety of stakeholders. Consultation and co-ordination with stakeholders can also facilitate acceptance of the measures to be implemented and mobilise resources to fulfil plans.

Key stakeholders include public procurement and gender-mainstreaming policy makers, as well as the contracting authorities. These authorities will have to manage implementation directly and will thus be more knowledgeable about the challenges they face in terms of, for example, capacity and resources. As noted above, market engagement strategies are key for engaging businesses and understanding their capacity, to ensure that gender-equality requirements do not become barriers to participation. A gradual approach, like the one used by the City of Bogotá, allows the supplier community to grasp the policy objective relative to gender equality and accommodate its working staff accordingly. Citizens and civil society organisations (CSOs), particularly those specialised in gender issues, may also provide input with research and data previously collected. Finally, control and audit authorities may contribute by collecting data and analysing the performance and progress towards implementing gender-sensitive procurement, for example through performance audits. CCE has no power to monitor or control implementation of the policy, and oversight bodies could thus contribute by leveraging their mandates. Figure 5.11 provides an illustration of the wide array of stakeholders to engage to increase success.

Because gender-inclusive public procurement is an emerging practice in Colombia, the implementation process will need to be supported systematically. First, CCE, as the central purchasing body, could take the lead in developing awareness-raising and capacity-building workshops and seminars. These events would be useful to convey a strong message about the objectives behind the policy, the potential benefits, the challenges, and how the policy fits in the whole-of-government gender equality strategy, as depicted in the PND and CONPES 161. A shared understanding is critical for ensuring organisational buy-in, mobilising resources and aligning expectations.

Second, CCE could analyse the extent to which capacity in the procurement workforce is adequate to implementing gender-sensitive procurement. Sample surveys, focus groups and the organisation of a task force involving several contracting units may be useful for this purpose. Then, CCE could design seminars and other training activities, including online modules, to close the capacity gap and analyse both national and international experiences. It is particularly important that the officials in charge of support tools (i.e. Solución en línea and the JOTA chat) be adequately trained and ready to provide support to procurement agents looking for answers.

Third, CCE could leverage its experience drafting guidelines and practical manuals to develop a guide focused on gender-inclusive procurement. CCE has already developed a guide for socially responsible procurement, as noted earlier, but its content on gender-sensitive procurement is limited on how to implement the policy and the different tools available. During the virtual fact-finding mission, CCE officials noted that such manuals would be updated once the decree project regulating Law 2069 was approved, as occurred in December 2021. As new tools are incorporated, CCE could facilitate their implementation with “how to” guides and updates to the existing guidelines. Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality – Procurement Principles and User Guide and Spain’s Guide for the Inclusion of Gender Equality Clauses in Contracts, Subsidies and Public Agreements provide good examples (see Box 5.11).

Last but not least, it is worth noting that support activities and materials should be developed not only for public entities and agencies, but also for the supplier community, to understand gender-sensitive procurement and what is expected from them.

In the fact-finding stage of this review, Colombian authorities recognised that the collection of data, monitoring and evaluation of the gender-sensitive procurement policy is a challenge. They attributed this to the following factors:

  • limited technological capacity;

  • insufficient financial and human resources to compile data;

  • limited knowledge and understanding on the part of data producers about gender equality issues;

  • lack of awareness of the need to compile gender-disaggregated data;

  • co-ordination issues;

  • lack of indicators to steer data collection disaggregated by gender.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are typically used by OECD countries to collect gender-disaggregated data. For example, e-procurement tools present advantages such as the capacity to collect real-time data and operate with other digital tools, such as tax or social security systems. CCE already collects some gender-disaggregated data, but further systematisation is required. For example, CCE has developed a dashboard for keeping track of specific data, such as participation gaps between men and women by department, and salary gaps. It has already set up an e-platform that has proved useful for collecting and systematising the data, the e-procurement system SECOP. The Chamber of Commerce also has a suppliers’ registry (Registro Único de Proveedores, RUP), which may be useful for collecting information on the performance of gender-sensitive procurement requirements and policies.

However, CCE first needs to define which data would be useful to monitor and evaluate gender-inclusive procurement. CCE could start by defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and assess the possibility of collecting the necessary data to track such indicators. KPIs not only measure aggregated procurement performance, but also prove helpful in assessing specific procurement process performance and providing grounds for procurement officials to guide future procurement decisions. KPIs could refer to the gaps in gender remuneration in supplier companies, the percentage of supplier companies led by women (empresas de mujeres) and the percentage of women shareholders or in senior/executive positions in supplier companies. Such indicators would support the previous recommendation to adopt an approach more extensive than simply tracking women’s participation in the labour force. Good KPIs should be relevant, clear, measurable, objective, achievable and limited (see Box 5.12).

Once KPIs and the data necessary to track them have been defined, CCE would need to assess where this information could be sourced and how to collect it. Questions might include whether SECOP or RUP would be better suited to such data collection and whether these platforms could be connected with others containing relevant databases. CCE is currently working, for example, to interconnect its systems with Confecámaras’ databases, to extract information from the Consolidated Business and Social Registry (Registro Único Empresarial y Social, RUES).

Notably, CCE has already undertaken relevant data collection exercises and analyses that can be built on. In early 2021, it carried out an analysis using a dashboard synthesising the dynamics of public procurement by ministries between 2018 and 2021, with data on the total value of contracts and the share of participation between men and women. Figure 5.12, for example, shows the distribution of contractors by gender for different ministries, as well as the median value of contracts by gender.

In August 2021, CCE published a report, “Differential Gender Analysis in Public Sector Contractors” (Análisis Diferencial de Género en los Contratistas del Sector Público). Its objective was to analyse the trends in the procurement of service providers by gender over the period 2018-2021. It aimed to determine whether improvements have been made in the share of participation and the salary gap between men and women. Data used for the analyses come from SECOP. The main conclusions are the following (Colombia Compra Eficiente, 2021[34]):

  • The share of women’s participation in the public procurement market has increased, but the rate per company of women’s contracts is lower than that of men;

  • The median salary for men is higher than that for women for all the years under analysis.

  • In general, more contracts are awarded to women, but for suppliers in the highest income bracket (above COP 8 million), more contracts are awarded to men.

  • Some sectors have traditionally had a higher share of women’s participation (i.e. social inclusion, education, health, and social protection), while in others, women’s participation has increased (i.e. defence). On the other hand, some sectors have a preponderance of men (i.e. sports and transport) and in others, men’s participation has increased (i.e. foreign affairs).

These data can be extremely valuable in targeting public policies toward specific sectors (i.e. those with the lowest rates of women’s participation) and evaluating their impacts. Conducting such analyses, CCE is on the right track for producing data that may encourage further gender-sensitive public procurement.

A common misconception about infrastructure is that it is gender-neutral, but several arguments must be weighed against this idea. First, men and women have different infrastructure-related needs and concerns and hence may not benefit equally from infrastructure investments. Second, infrastructure planning, design and execution are sectors usually dominated by men (e.g. the construction sector). In Colombia, female participation in the labour force in 2019 in the construction sector was about 5%, compared to an average of 8.8% in a sample of 27 European countries (Lozano Maturana and Luque Medina, 2020[37]).3

OECD countries are increasingly incorporating a gender lens into the public investment process and the planning and execution of infrastructure. Governments are increasingly deploying tools to identify the gender-specific impacts of infrastructure decisions and to ensure shared benefits for men and women alike. Likewise, there is a trend to review infrastructure frameworks to ensure equal consideration for men’s and women’s needs.

Greater consideration of gender equality in infrastructure frameworks is also visible in international fora. For example, the G20 Quality Infrastructure Investment Principles (QII) call for infrastructure that is inclusive and enables the economic participation and social inclusion of all (Principle 5). Likewise, the OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Infrastructure calls on adherents to develop a long-term strategic vision that actively contributes to the achievement of sustainable and inclusive development, in line with long-term policy objectives, including national and international commitments on environmental protection, climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions, human rights, social inclusion, gender equality, regional disparities and urban-rural connectivity (OECD, 2020[38]).

This Section aims to review the tools and mechanisms Colombia uses to promote gender-sensitive infrastructure, as well as the challenges that both policy makers and infrastructure officials face in promoting a gender lens in developing infrastructure.

As discussed in previous Chapters, in 2013, CONPES 161 set a broader approach to extend gender mainstreaming into economic and political empowerment of women. Since then, one of the government’s priorities has been strengthening the institutional framework for gender mainstreaming, for example by creating specialised offices or units in key public entities at the national level. This strategy of establishing “champions” for a specific subject matter has been successful in other policy fields.

As shown in Chapter 4, the CPEM plays an advisory role to the government in the area of gender equality policy. The Gender Subdirectorate in the National Planning Department (Departamento Nacional de Planeación, DNP) helps develop gender equality policies and mainstreaming a gender approach in broader policy fields, particularly public investment policies.

Certain entities have already established dedicated teams to promote gender balance in the infrastructure workforce. For example, the National Infrastructure Agency (Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura, or ANI) established, through Resolution 1708/2019, a gender mainstreaming team (Equipo de Trabajo para la Equidad de Género) made up of representatives from each of its six vice-presidencies and one from its presidency. This team’s work focuses on strengthening the participation of women in decision-making roles in the agency and adopting corporate guidelines to ensure gender equality in the infrastructure workforce. ANI has successfully achieved gender parity in executive roles and in the Board of Directors. While these achievements are important, it should be recognised that they do not automatically translate into adopting a gender lens for infrastructure. Political commitment and specific tools are also needed to support implementation.

Likewise, inter-institutional teams are working on gender mainstreaming in infrastructure. The Ministry of Transport, for example, is leading a cross-sector team (Comité Sectorial para la Coordinación e Implementación de la Política Pública Nacional de Equidad de Género en el Sector Transporte) with the participation of national and subnational entities, including ANI. The team includes one representative from each of the transport sector entities. It was established in 2019 through Resolution 2830 and meets every few months.

While all these initiatives (i.e. “champions”, institutional teams, inter-institutional task forces) represent important steps, they appear to be fragmented and missing a clear mandate that provides guidelines on their roles, structures and interactions. A central body or function could also help achieve consistency and policy coherence, not only through the support of previous initiatives, but also by adopting the tools recommended in this report.

Recent reforms are creating momentum to increase the participation of women in the labour force involved in the execution of infrastructure. For example, Law 2069 of 2020 (the Entrepreneurship Law, which is fully reviewed in the previous Section on public procurement) established bid preference mechanisms to support the participation of women-owned businesses (empresas de mujeres) in public procurement markets. However, its implementation is still under way, since the decree regulating it has only recently been issued.

The Colombian government recognised the differentiated effects of COVID-19 on women, particularly as concerns access to jobs and economic opportunities. A decree issued in October 2020 by the president to all the ministries, administrative departments and entities of the national executive branch recognises an unemployment rate for women as 26.2%. Presidential Directive 11 (Directiva Presidencial 11) introduced a number of measures to mitigate the impacts of the crisis on women, in line with the country’s economic recovery plan, Compromiso por Colombia, namely:

  • a mandate to increase the participation of women in the construction workforce across all projects to be undertaken by the Ministry of Housing, Cities and Territories;

  • a mandate for the Ministry of Transport to promote women’s participation in the infrastructure labour force in the context of 5G infrastructure projects and PPP infrastructure projects more broadly;

  • a mandate to increase the participation of women in strategic projects undertaken by the Ministry of Energy in renewable energies, oil and gas;

  • a mandate to Colombia’s central purchasing body (Colombia Compra Eficiente, CCE) to adopt tools to increase the number of women-owned businesses providing goods and services through public procurement;

  • the mandatory implementation of the gender budget tagging system, Trazadores Presupuestales para la Equidad de la Mujer, to monitor the implementation and results of these measures.

To achieve the last point, the government should anticipate the measures necessary to evaluate the impact of the Directive’s mandates on gender equality and participation in the infrastructure labour force.

The measure related to women’s participation in the context of 5G and PPP infrastructure projects is quite concrete, which should allow for clear assessment of its achievements. The new 5G infrastructure contracts include requirements for concessionaires to ensure that women make up a minimum of 10% of employees hired during the preconstruction and construction phases in operational jobs (i.e. co-ordinators, technical aides, machinery drivers, supervisors and workers). Likewise, at least 30% of the executive roles in the operation and maintenance phases must be performed by women. Notably, these requirements apply directly to the concessionaires and indirectly to subcontractors. Concessionaires must also conduct stakeholder engagement to identify skill gaps in women in communities where infrastructure projects will be developed and ensure adequate training to facilitate the onboarding of female labour, particularly in local communities. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a monetary penalty.

If it is successfully carried out, the 5G infrastructure will set a new benchmark for gender-sensitive infrastructure in Colombia. An ANI assessment found that only 13% of the labour force in 4G infrastructure projects were women. Just 6% of the women in this group performed highly skilled jobs, and the remaining 94% were employed to provide office maintenance and canteen services. In an interview conducted in March 2022, the CPEM reported that 5G requirements had already created 60 000 jobs for women.

As noted in the previous Section, political commitment and leadership are always key elements for introducing innovative or disruptive policy measures and have been identified by the OECD as critical for successful reforms.

As underlined in Chapter 3, incorporating a gender subsection in the National Development Plan (Plan Nacional de Desarrollo, or NDP) was an essential step in signalling political commitment for the gender agenda in public investment. It highlighted the government’s political will to mainstream gender considerations in public investment and other policy areas, as well as to align long-term infrastructure plans with gender mainstreaming policies, a challenge in 71% of OECD countries (see Figure 5.13). It also has the potential to increase DNP’s leverage in requesting public entities across levels of government to adopt clearer and more ambitious gender mainstreaming targets.

Despite the achievements to date, the OECD team learned during its fact-finding mission of a reluctance to address gender issues in infrastructure planning and delivery, particularly from line ministries, thanks to a lack of awareness of the relevance of the gender perspective in infrastructure investment. So far, DNP’s Gender Subdirectorate has not participated in formulating any sectoral infrastructure plans. This is attributed to lack of political will from line ministries and inadequate co-ordination mechanisms.

The CPEM, DNP, ANI and line ministries related to infrastructure, and in particular, their heads, could be more vocal in promoting the benefits stemming from gender-sensitive infrastructure (Lozano Maturana and Luque Medina, 2020[37]) and (OECD, 2021[40]):

  • transport infrastructure reduces the time allocated to domestic activities, which are mainly performed by women (following prevalent gender stereotypes), freeing time for economic activities and hence contributing to productivity;

  • infrastructure improves mobility, which leads to greater access to well-remunerated jobs;

  • the construction sector is one of the main engines for creating jobs. A gender lens can lead to equal job opportunities for men and women;

  • building infrastructure that is safe and free of violence removes barriers to economic opportunities for women, who are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, including by reducing commuting times;

  • achieving a critical mass of all genders in infrastructure planning and decision making can increase representation of diverse perspectives and concerns, and promote the women’s empowerment agenda;

  • gender-sensitive infrastructure makes it possible to tackle different dimensions of poverty, including time poverty, poverty gaps and the digital divide.

Stronger political commitment could increase the number of entities using the budget tagging system. About 50 out of 200 public entities at the national level now report their activities under the system, but ANI, for example, does not use it, because there is no legal requirement to do so. Likewise, only a limited number of entities at the subnational level have adopted the system. Greater adoption could lead to upgraded co-ordination between, for example, the CPEM and the DNP, to ensure consistency in introducing gender-sensitive infrastructure. So far, their co-ordination has been mostly ad hoc and related to specific initiatives.

As described in Box 5.14 and Box 5.15, specific sector initiatives demonstrate the kind of political leadership required and could be a source of inspiration.

  • The Ministry of Mines and Energy, jointly with DNP, issued guidelines to mainstream gender considerations in the sector. The guidelines provide tools and best practices across the different stages of the infrastructure cycle.

  • The Ministry of Transport, as head of sector, led the drafting of the National Public Policy on Gender Equality for the Transport Sector. It has also led the efforts to link women to the execution of infrastructure works for public transport systems.

Lack of gender-disaggregated data is a major obstacle in OECD countries to adopting a gender lens in infrastructure decision making. As shown previously, Colombia is not alone in its pursuit of data to steer planning and decision making in infrastructure. In the context of COVID-19, more than half of OECD countries reported that a lack of readily available gender-disaggregated data made it difficult to incorporate gender considerations in policy responses addressing the crisis. A lack of data-driven targets and weak oversight can also limit consideration of gender issues in infrastructure development (OECD, 2021[40]).

Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be established for all the stages of the infrastructure life cycle. Gender-related KPIs could be adopted at the project design phase to assist monitoring of the implementation and operation of infrastructure contracts. Integrating gender-inclusive indicators in gender-blind projects can still allow governments to make them more inclusive, by keeping track of contributions to gender equality goals and adopting corrective measures throughout performance, if needed.

Obtaining key data and evidence to inform decision making is critical for increasing awareness and achieving a “demonstration effect” showing the relevance of adopting a gender perspective in infrastructure investment. Good data would also help in building KPIs, monitoring and accountability. Gender equality goals have a greater chance of realisation if they are supported by robust monitoring and evaluation.

As noted above, the need for gender related data in Colombia was identified as a challenge in the OECD fact-finding survey and in interviews during the fact-finding mission. The Ministry of ICTs (MinTIC) reported that the main obstacles to the availability, access, quality and use of gender-disaggregated data and statistics include: the lack of awareness of the need to compile this data, limited co-ordination mechanisms to determine which data to collect, and lack of indicators to steer the collection of gender-disaggregated data. ANI is building a set of sustainable indicators to assess transport infrastructure projects. One of its components is designed to evaluate gender equality targets established in 5G contracts. Likewise, the Ministry of Energy and the DNP suggest indicators and guiding questions to diagnose gender gaps in the mining and energy sectors, which can be useful for producing data and incorporating gender considerations in energy infrastructure planning and appraisal (see Table 5.3). A whole-of-government initiative to produce and collect data on gender-sensitive infrastructure had not been undertaken, but recent implementation of the budget tagging system could prove useful.

The NDP 2018-22 brought a new sense of awareness to the need for gender-budgeting practices. In response to this mandate, as explained previously, the DNP and the Ministry of Finance have co-led the gender budget tagging system in recent years. In fact, the adoption of the gender budget tagging system has raised awareness and made it possible to collect relevant data.

The purpose of the tagging system is to identify and track budget allocations of investments and expenses with a direct impact on gender equality. The aim of the tagging system is not to single out projects whose sole beneficiaries are women, but to identify projects that, even if targeted to a broader end-user group, have a direct impact on closing gender equality gaps.

The gender tagging system aims to cover the entire public investment cycle, starting from the diagnosis and planning to the budget allocation and to execution. So far, most of the work has focused on raising awareness, training the public workforce and working directly with public entities to identify ongoing projects that can be tagged under this system. Going forward, the goal is for entities to conduct this process on their own, before allocating resources to public investment and expenses.

The implementation guide for the budget tagging system prepared by the DNP includes practical tools for public practitioners to mainstream gender considerations throughout the investment life cycle, with a strong emphasis on the strategic planning stage. The guide puts particular emphasis on the following steps to mainstream gender considerations throughout the planning phase:

  • Gender-sensitive needs assessment: use of key gender-disaggregated indicators and cross-sectoral data to get a better sense of invisible gender gaps in public investment. Guiding key questions and examples are provided to ensure a gender-sensitive needs assessment.

  • Gender-focused objectives: definition of gender equality objectives that provide a clear idea of the baseline and targets to achieve. Guiding key questions and examples are provided for the adoption of gender-focused objectives.

  • Gender indicators: definition of indicators that will make it possible to measure the impact of public investment on gender equality. The guide provides guiding key questions and examples of gender indicators.

Data collected through the tagging system not only provides information on the public resources devoted to closing gender gaps, but also allows for collection of qualitative data, including insights on the type of projects tagged and their implementation.

To collect information on gender-sensitive public investment, the DNP set up the Unified System for Public Investments and Finance (Sistema Unificado de Inversiones y Finanzas Públicas, SUIFP). This integrates the processes relative to each of the public investment stages and follows investment projects from design to delivery, facilitating alignment with government programmes and public policies. Additionally, the budget tagging system led to the design of a tool for collecting qualitative information on action to close gender gaps, promote gender equality, their links with public policies (i.e. NDP, gender equality and sectoral commitments) and funding sources (Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2021[44]).

The Colombian government could create a task force on gender-sensitive infrastructure to collect data from a set of pilot infrastructure projects on the impact of the five categories described in the gender tagging system, which are also aligned with the Public Policy for Gender Equality. The categories are: economic autonomy and access to assets, participation in leadership positions and decision making, health and sexual and reproductive rights, education and access to new technologies, and women free of violence. The second report to Congress on implementing the budget tagging system recognises the need to increase the production of gender-disaggregated data (Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2021[44]). Iceland’s experience putting together a working group on gender-disaggregated data could be illustrative (see Box 5.16).

As for the category on participation in leadership positions and decision making, entities in charge of infrastructure projects could trace women’s participation in managerial roles throughout the life cycle of a sample of infrastructure projects. The data collected could shed light on the extent to which women’s participation has increased as a result of requirements such as those set in 5G contracts and the adoption of gender-related objectives as part of infrastructure projects. For instance, entities could measure how many projects explicitly consider objectives related to improving women’s access to job opportunities.

Similarly, for the category on economic autonomy and access to assets, infrastructure entities could measure the correlation between the impact of infrastructure projects in shortening commuting times and women quitting their jobs, and then compare this correlation with one for men. The evidence suggests that longer commuting times increase the probability that both men and women may quit a job, but the effects seem to be greater for women. Women who have an hour-long commute are 29.1% more likely to leave their current jobs than if they had a 10-minute commute, compared with 23.9% for men (OECD, 2021[40]) (see Figure 5.14). Data collected from specific infrastructure projects could help determine the strength of this correlation in Colombia and provide elements to prioritise infrastructure that reduce commuting times as a way of facilitating women’s access to jobs.

Likewise, more qualitative data collected through consultation, perception surveys or focus groups could provide useful feedback for gender-sensitive infrastructure planning and decision making. Chile, for example, relied on this more qualitative approach to assess gendered transport infrastructure needs (see Box 5.17).

Collecting all these types of data would serve several purposes. First, it would be useful for infrastructure officials to learn about good practices in incorporating a gender lens. Second, it might indicate specific areas of the organisation or stages of infrastructure projects for which awareness and training are necessary. Third, the feedback loop may be useful for challenging widespread misconceptions. For example, a set of projects successful in achieving the target of participation of women in the construction stage will provide evidence that such a requirement is not only achievable but desirable, and even perhaps that the threshold should be raised. Such data would be useful for revising current objectives and indicators. Finally, the collection of data in itself will help develop expertise in gender equality issues. The exercise of collecting and analysing information could be part of a dedicated annex in reports to Congress on gender-sensitive infrastructure.

This strategy would require awareness raising and training so that it could be replicated elsewhere. Officials participating in the first pilot exercises could coach those in other institutions who might replicate the strategy. As noted above, more entities would also need to commit to the budget tagging system and other data collection techniques.

The second report to Congress on implementing the budget tagging system explicitly recommends that entities “develop, monitor, and evaluate coaching processes and gender-related training for planning and financial units, as well as officials in charge of design and delivery of investment projects”. Consequently, to facilitate the drafting of such a report, the Ministry of Finance and the DNP produced a series of support material, including (Consejería Presidencial para la Equidad de la Mujer, 2021[44]):

  • a guide for the inclusion of gender approaches to the planning cycle and the use of the budget tagging system;

  • a gender approach in the planning cycle and use of the budget tagging system;

  • sector guides for gender-sensitive planning and budgeting (Trade, Industry and Tourism; Mines and Energy; and ICTs);

  • participative budgets following a gender approach;

  • methodology for the diagnosis of the implementation of gender budgeting in four entities of the national government;

  • information analysis and knowledge sharing for the design of a methodology for gender budgeting.

In co-operation with the CPEM and the Ministry of Finance, the DPN organises workshops and provides training to public officials from multiple public bodies at the national level. The DNP reports that such training has helped increase understanding of the complexities across sectors and identified specific sector needs. Guidelines for incorporating a gender lens in public investment have been prepared in collaboration with the ministries of Energy; ICTs; Housing, Cities and Territories; Transport; and Environment.

As described in the Section on political commitment, a reluctance to address gender issues in infrastructure planning and delivery has been noted, particularly from line ministries. The innovative nature of this dimension of infrastructure governance, and a corresponding lack of awareness and need for upgraded capacity, may explain such resistance. Training and support materials should be part of the strategy to foster gender mainstreaming in infrastructure by creating awareness and capacities.

In Colombia, the methodology for the identification of investments and expenses with a gender impact has been developed so far through data mining (mostly using databases with information on public contracts). However, as explained above, the process of diagnosis and identification does not include formal methodologies for assessing gender impacts (e.g., gender impact analysis, techniques to complement cost-benefit analysis). The quality of the data thus presents a challenge for the tagging system and other methodologies for assessing gender impacts stemming from infrastructure. It would be useful, for example, to develop a repository assessing the gender impacts of a sample of infrastructure projects in different sectors (i.e. transport, communications, mining, energy) to help in the appraisal of future projects. However, this also requires a formal methodology for ex post assessment.4

The government has established the foundations for systematic collection of data through the gender budget tagging system, but moving forward, it will be necessary to identify how the data can be used to derive insights for planning and appraisal, and leverage more qualitative information. The results from the tagging system are summarised in a report that is presented to Congress regularly, but it is not clear how the DNP (and public entities in general) can reuse the data to derive insights and identify gender impacts at earlier stages of the decision making in public investment.

The government also faces the challenge of making progress on infrastructure projects better aligned with public policy priorities, such as gender equality. As in any other country, resources are limited and prioritisation is always a concern. One tool commonly used to prioritise public investments in OECD countries is cost-benefit analysis (CBA), but it is generally agreed that this should be complemented by other tools that incorporate qualitative criteria and the contributions of the projects to the achievement of policy goals, which can be hard to monetise. Failing to use such complementary tools can lead to overlooking gender considerations in project prioritisation and appraisal. Moreover, the timing in the application of such analyses is also important so that they can genuinely contribute to decision making and avoid a “tick-the-box” approach.

Gender-disaggregated impact is relevant at every stage of the infrastructure investment cycle, but it is particularly important to analyse it in the early stages, so that the findings and conclusions can inform the appraisal, selection, design and planning of the project. Early intervention allows for measures to mitigate risks. If such considerations are not incorporated in the initial phases, they will be challenging to incorporate as the project is executed. Without early intervention, projects may require significant adjustments to their budget and calendar, and risk jeopardising delivery of the infrastructure on time, on budget and at the quality expected. Table 5.4 shows how gender impacts should be considered through the different stages of an infrastructure project.

Different tools could be adopted to facilitate gender-sensitive infrastructure at early stages of the investment cycle. For example, an emerging practice in OECD countries is to carry out ex ante evaluations to assess impacts on gender equality of proposed infrastructure projects, such as gender impact assessments (GIAs). As explained above, GIAs allow governments to learn about invisible biases or assumptions about the potential impact of projects on women and men, which can inadvertently influence the selection of a project over another without considering its negative impacts. The assessments are designed to highlight the potential impacts in terms of relative distribution of resources, opportunities, constraints and power in a given context or project, fixed in the corresponding budget proposal (see Box 5.19 on Canada) (OECD, 2021[40]).

The findings and risks identified in the GIA should inform an action plan to tackle them. The analyses and feasibility studies could spot specific concerns for women such as time poverty, access to economic opportunities and jobs, commuting times, safety, and gender-based violence. The City of Vienna, Austria, is mainstreaming gender considerations in feasibility studies for transport infrastructure (see Box 5.20).

An additional tool is requiring cost-benefit analysis to apply a gender lens during project appraisal and selection. This could consist on analysing social externalities of infrastructure projects with differentiated impacts on men and women. Here again, costs and benefits throughout the life cycle of the infrastructure should be considered, as well as cumulative impacts and synergies with different infrastructures and policies.

The government of Colombia could introduce gender impact assessments (GIAs) as a strategic tool to achieve its gender equality objectives. The following recommendations are proposed to outline a way forward to progress in this respect.

  • Consider adopting a staged approach to promote the systematic use of GIAs:

  • Engage in broad-based public consultations with communities and gender experts to support accurate identification and understanding of potential issues to women of diverse backgrounds, taking into account intersectional identity factors.

  • Develop evidence-based sector specific needs assessment and analysis in each line ministry to outline policy issues in relation to gender equality. The example of the Ministry of Energy can provide a good foundation. Engaging key governmental stakeholders (e.g., CPEM, OCM, DANE, DNP) and non-governmental stakeholders would be an important part of this process.

  • Identify major primary laws with potential high impact on gender equality and analyse them against the objectives set up in the National Gender Equality Policy and in the Transversal Pact for Women of the National Development Plan 2018-2022.

  • With the leadership of the DANE and of the CPEM and the support of the OCM, consider undertaking an audit of data sources and publications available to understand gender inequalities in the country, including through an intersectional perspective.

  • Develop a guiding framework (including methodology, guidelines, and other relevant documents) for GIA implementation and ensure that government actors have the knowledge, capacities and resources to use GIA effectively.

  • Introduce a binding legal requirement to systematically conduct GIAs for all policies, programmes, regulations and budgets accompanied by a clear quality control criteria and ensuring that the analysis is undertaken early enough to inform policy development. The CPEM could provide support to line ministries responsible for undertaking GIAs, by offering guidance and gender expertise.

  • Consider strengthening the evidence base for gender-sensitive policy making by enhancing the use of statistical data in designing, planning, implementing and delivering gender-related public policies and services. The capacities of institutional actors (line ministries, the CPEM, DANE, Congress, courts and other data producers) should also be reinforced.

  • With respect to the monitoring of the situation of rural women, consider taking action to improve the exchange of data between national entities and to promote the characterisation by gender of some statistical exercises.

  • As the conversion of administrative records in statistical records requires a high level of specialisation and storage capacity, consider setting up systems to facilitate those operations within the DANE.

  • Consider investing in cross-cutting training to increase the number of professionals able to collect, manage, and store relevant disaggregated data and statistics across the government.

  • Consider improving data integration and exchange of information across line ministries.

  • Continue promoting the collection and dissemination of data disaggregated by gender and other characteristics on a systematic basis. Efforts should be made to ensure that all administrative records and statistical data that have individual people as a unit of analysis present disaggregation by gender.

  • Consider establishing a centralised system to store all data and administrative records on women at both national and subnational level and make them accessible to line ministries, taking into account privacy matters.

A staged approach to further developing gender budgeting in Colombia recognises the limited resources that are available, and the importance of embedding practices over time as institutional capacity grows. Recommendations are presented for actions in the short and medium-long term.

  • Continue to support broader use of the budget tracer for women’s equity by providing support and guidance tailored to specific sectors and levels of government. Further gender expertise could, for example, be provided by the CPEM on a regular basis.

  • Strengthen institutional capacity at a greater pace by dedicating greater resources to the teams responsible for the tracer in the DNP and in the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (MCHP). Institutional capacity could also be strengthened by systematically embedding gender “champions” in each government ministry, and entities at the regional and municipal level. In addition, a central platform to co-ordinate the work of these gender champions will provide a means for them to discuss challenges and share expertise.

  • Take forward measures to support improved selection of gender performance indicators as part of the planning and performance measurement cycle. It could do this, for example, through integrating gender indicator options into the government’s “product catalogue” instrument for formulating investment projects.

  • Take measures to strengthen the availability of gender-disaggregated data. This will support existing gender budgeting practices, and lay the foundation for the expansion of the approach to gender budgeting in Colombia in the medium and longer-term.

  • Further develop the methodology for the budget tracer so that policies that have positive, negative, or neutral/unknown impacts on women’s equity can be identified. The introduction of gender impact assessments, both for projects with a negative impact on gender equality and those whose impact on gender equality is unknown, will help give a better understanding of these impacts and help establish how they might be mitigated through policy redesign. A vision for this development is shown in Figure 5.15 below.

GIAs are the most common tool used by OECD countries implementing gender budgeting. The provision of impact assessments alongside budget proposals will also help the MCHP assess which budget allocations should be prioritised to achieve gender equality goals set out in the National Policy on Gender Equality most effectively.

  • Consider the introduction of programme budgeting, as well as strengthen the link between planning and budgeting. Improvements to the budgeting framework in Colombia are central to the development of gender budgeting over time.

  • Consider the creation of an inter-agency group on gender budgeting, including key stakeholders in the DNP, the MCHP and the CPEM, which could help bring together the implementation partners and ensure regular co-ordination as Colombia’s approach to gender budgeting is reinforced. The series of actions set out above are intended to be mutually supporting. Implementation will undoubtedly need to take place over several years. Putting such a package of measures into effect will require clear leadership.

The measures taken so far have already produced results. For example, CCE reports 50% growth in the participation of women in Colombia’s E-Marketplace (Tienda Virtual del Estado Colombiano, TVEC) from January 2020 to December 2021. Out of 45 framework agreements (Acuerdos Marco de Precios, AMP) and demand consolidation instruments (Instrumentos de Agregación de Demanda, IAD), there were 104 015 women linked to suppliers, of whom 36 933 (36%) were heads of households. A total of 2 932 women were members of the boards and 117 were legal representatives of companies. Furthermore, from 2018 onwards, women’s participation in services contracts grew by 34.5%.5

These numbers indicate positive trends upon which CCE and contracting authorities can build. The following recommendations aim to support those efforts and facilitate the adoption of a wider approach towards gender-inclusive public procurement.

  • Strengthen leadership commitment to incorporate a gender lens in public procurement. Colombia has already established some basic measures to promote gender-sensitive public procurement, but stronger leadership would help to achieve deeper and sustained progress.

  • Expand the scope of the regulatory and strategic framework for gender-inclusive public procurement beyond simply encouraging the participation of women in the staff of suppliers.

  • CCE could launch initiatives to:

    • widen the requirements for women’s participation to also include equality in salaries paid to men and women, as well as to extend the conditions to the supply chain beyond tier 1;

    • incorporate a gender perspective into needs analyses;

    • engage the market for gender-inclusive procurement;

    • apply a gender lens to impact assessment of procurement operations;

    • take into account gender-specific risks.

  • Facilitate the implementation of the tools and mechanisms to incorporate gender considerations in public procurement through stakeholder engagement.

  • Facilitate implementation of the tools and mechanisms to incorporate gender considerations in public procurement through support activities (i.e. capacity building, manuals, etc.) that could be provided by the CPEM as appropriate.

  • Anticipate data needs to allow CCE to be able to evaluate implementation progress.

  • Monitor the impact of recent reforms to support more gender-responsive infrastructure:

    • The Colombian government has implemented major reforms to promote the participation of women in infrastructure decision making. However, no clear system is in place to monitor the impact of these reforms, ensure progress towards initially set targets, and review the policy if needed.

    • Gender equality objectives have the greatest chance of being realised if they are supported by robust monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

    • Integrating gender-inclusive indicators into gender-blind projects can encourage governments to make them more inclusive, by keeping track of their contribution to gender equality goals and adopting corrective measures subsequently if needed.

  • Adopt formal methodologies to integrate gender considerations during the infrastructure project planning and appraisal process:

    • Particularly in the early stages of the infrastructure life cycle, it is key to understand gender disaggregated impacts in order to incorporate these considerations into the overall investment programme, as well as into the design of each specific infrastructure project.

    • Colombia could consider using ex ante evaluations to assess the likely impact on gender equality of proposed infrastructure projects.

    • Gender impact assessments can allow governments to learn about invisible biases or assumptions about the possible impact of projects on women and men, which can inadvertently influence the selection of one project over another without awareness of its negative impacts.

  • Use data to increase awareness and promote political consensus on the benefits of implementing a gender perspective in infrastructure investment:

    • Attaining political consensus from the legislative branch and key implementation agencies (e.g. ANI) on mainstreaming gender considerations in public investments is a key challenge.

    • Obtaining key data and evidence to inform decision making is key to increasing awareness of the relevance of a gender perspective in infrastructure investment.

    • Partnering with the private sector, academia and civil society could provide relevant data that are properly defined, measured, collected, analysed, synthesised and presented for decision makers and the public.

    • As broad expertise in collecting, connecting and interpreting quality data might not exist across all sectors and levels of government, capacity building will be a key enabler of data-driven approaches.

  • Develop a strategy to ensure that data collected through the gender tagging system, consultation, pilot projects and other means can be reused for planning and investment decision making:

    • The gender budget tagging system aims to fill a void in quantitative data generation and collection. The gender budget tagging reports are publicly available and regularly presented to the Congress. However, there is no clear strategy on how this information can be reused to inform strategic planning and project prioritisation.

    • More qualitative data collected through consultation, perception surveys or focus groups could also provide useful feedback for gender-sensitive infrastructure planning and decision making.

  • Promote co-operation between relevant line ministries/agencies with the DNP and the CPEM:

    • While co-operation between the CPEM, the DNP and national line ministries has increased, progress varies across sectors, agencies and levels of government. More efforts are needed to ensure that co-operation happens on more than just an ad hoc basis.


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[25] OECD (2021), “Promoting gender equality through public procurement: Challenges and good practices”, OECD Public Governance Policy Papers, No. 09, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/5d8f6f76-en.

[4] OECD (2021), Towards gender-inclusive recovery, https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=1094_1094692-vsm1fnncha&title=Towards-gender-inclusive-recovery.

[16] OECD (2020), Gender Equality in Colombia: Access to Justice and Politics at the Local Level, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b956ef57-en.

[9] OECD (2020), Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/339306da-en.

[38] OECD (2020), OECD Recommendation of the Council on the Governance of Infrastructure, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0460.

[39] OECD (2020), OECD Survey on the Governance of Infrastructure.

[18] OECD (2019), Designing and Implementing Gender Budgeting: A Path to action, https://www.oecd.org/gov/budgeting/designing-and-implementing-gender-budgeting-a-path-to-action.pdf.

[3] OECD (2019), Fast Forward to Gender Equality: Mainstreaming, Implementation and Leadership, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/g2g9faa5-en.

[22] OECD (2019), Government at a Glance 2019, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/8ccf5c38-en.

[7] OECD (2018), Gender Equality in Canada: Mainstreaming, Governance and Budgeting, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264301108-en.

[8] OECD (2018), OECD Toolkit on Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality, OECD, https://www.oecd.org/gov/toolkit-for-mainstreaming-and-implementing-gender-equality.pdf.

[32] OECD (2018), Public Procurement in Nuevo León, Mexico: Promoting Efficiency through Centralisation and Professionalisation, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264288225-en.

[12] OECD (2017), Agenda: Governing better through evidence-informed policy making, https://www.oecd.org/gov/Agenda-Governing-better-through-evidence-informed-policy-making.pdf.

[5] OECD (2016), 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Gender Equality in Public Life, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264252820-en.

[23] OECD (2015), “OECD Recommendation of the Council on Public Procurement”, https://www.oecd.org/gov/ethics/OECD-Recommendation-on-Public-Procurement.pdf (accessed on 10 November 2017).

[24] OECD (2015), “OECD Recommendation of the Council on Public Procurement”, https://www.oecd.org/gov/public-procurement/recommendation/.

[27] OECD (2010), Making Reform Happen: Lessons from OECD Countries, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264086296-en.

[17] OECD (forthcoming), 2022 Survey on Gender Budgeting.

[14] Proyectamos Colombia (2016), Respuesta Institucional en la Implementación de Estrategias para la Transversalización del Enfoque de Género (Institutional response regarding the implementation of gender mainstreaming strategies), http://www.equidadmujer.gov.co/oag/Documents/propuesta-transversalizacion-genero.pdf.

[35] Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2020), Workplace Gender Equality Procurement Principles | WGEA, https://www.wgea.gov.au/what-we-do/compliance-reporting/wgea-procurement-principles (accessed on 7 February 2022).

[2] Zrinski, U. (2021), Who benefits from public spending? Gender responsive budget policies support inclusive societies, https://blogs.worldbank.org/governance/who-benefits-public-spending-gender-responsive-budget-policies-support-inclusive.


← 1. For example, women have been disproportionately affected by the economic and social consequences of COVID-19.

← 2. Colombia Compra Eficiente (2018), Guía de Compras Públicas Socialmente Responsables, https://colombiacompra.gov.co/sites/cce_public/files/cce_documents/cce_guia_cp_socialmente_responsables.pdf (consulted on 31 January 2022).

← 3. The 27 countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the Slovak Republic.

← 4. Notably, the government is working on incorporating a gender perspective in policy evaluation, based on a guide developed with UN Women.

← 5. Data provided by CCE.

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