On gender responsive budgeting/planning? Or something else?

During my visit to Bhuj in November, I was asked by the Setu Abhiyan to share my experiences in Gender responsive budgeting/planning in Finland with the Setu staff –and I was delighted to do so. This I hope, was the first encounter, of many to come, as I hope to be visiting Bhuj again over the next few years, allowing me to learn from the work that Setu offices do in participatory planning and budgeting in different parts of Kutch district.

When I entered the meeting room, I soon realised that the setting was somewhat uncomfortable, yet familiar, for me: here was I, a white female academic from the global North entering a room full of Kutch (?) men: a situation that immediately gives me (neo)colonial connotations that I wanted to address first: who is the teacher and who knows.

Tackling this question, who knows and teaches and who learns, using the example of gender budgeting was a great opportunity for me. Because I was initially introduced to participatory planning, citizen’s activism, and gender equity and justice questions, not in Finland or global North, but in fact in India, learning from the many women’s groups, feminist movements and advocacy campaings. Each of which that were part of a wider global movement trying to understand the impacts of economic globalisation, structural adjustment programs and their impacts on women’s everyday lives. And importantly, seeking alternative economic models and possibilities for empowerment and focusing on collective learning trying to understand the ways in which economic processes connect us all in our everyday lives, globally.

How to make such connectedness visible in global North? I usually ask my students, or any audience, a simple question: what did you eat for breakfast, or what clothes are you wearing today? What journeys have the food items, or clothes made before you’ve purchased them? In fact, even some of the essential Kutch products -such as cotton, groundnuts, or other consumables, are most likely to be found in the everyday consumption in the Finnish households. Knowledge of such connectedness has over the years become easier, thanks to internet, social media but also tireless work by number of civil society organisations that connect beyond national borders. I also think that the awareness of the production and consumption chains is increasing, thanks to many years of advocacy on the topic.

Over the past 10-15 years I have taken part in number of initiatives that aims at increasing understanding of ’gender budgeting’, but also more generally of economic literacy skills in Finland – both which I think are important for us as citizens. Here I would say the most important has been the collective nature of such initiatives: I am not an economist and in order to understand complex economic processes, or their societal and political consequences, requires multiple perspectives and creation of knowledge that no one can do alone. Increasingly, those of us who produce such knowledge have to think about accesssibility: in which format and in which language we produce it so that non-experts can also take part in the discussions. I believe this in simplicity, is the basic idea of campaigns for economic literacy, that bears transformative possibility for change.

Some of these past initiatives have included producing advocacy materials of the importance of gender budgeting during the municipality elections for candidates, activists, voters, and municipality bureaucrats, but it also included organising collective learning events on economic literacy – part of this is my own recognition of wanting to learn more and combine forces to gain new knowledge.

Of those experiences gained in Finland, but having had chances to hear of the experiences from elsewhere in Europe, some of the key lessons are:

1. Challenges to gain momentum and maintain stamina of people in key decision-making (of the state government, municipality government)

2. It is important to connect beyond national borders – but challenge is that each context has its own specificities (ways budgets are drawn, what are the limits of budgeting via legislation)

3. Gender (often simply translated, problematically, into differences between men and women, or girls and boys) as a stand alone category are not sufficient How come? I give you one example

In the Finnish context there has been decades long focus on how to ”engender” or ensure that the planning processes consider impacts (and positive results) for gender equality. One concrete (and important) step is to demand gender disaggregated data and statistics that can then be analysed and used as a basis of decision-making (for example of completion of primary education, or usage of public services).

Yet, as this map (above map) tries to illustrate, challenges of accessibility cannot be only explained by gender. Here the map tries to illustrate how remotedly located village (which is a home for a indigenous ethnic group called Skolt Sami) lacks most of the basic services that a urban citizen would have available for them:

The big map in blue illustrates how long distance a person living in the capital of Helsinki would have to travel, if it was Sevettijärvi, to access: post office (118km), ATM (139km), pharmacist (148km), bank (168km), hospital (476km) and a railway station (476km). The small map shows the location of the village Sevettijärvi on the Finnish map.

Currently, the questions of equity and equality in basic social and health care services is being debated in Finland, as the current government aims at reforming the whole of the system. From those complex debates, one thing is clear, it is not sufficient to analyse and predict the impacts based on gender only, rather one needs to focus on geographical and income inequalities, just to name a few. What does the priviatization of such services do, especially when it is being marketed and promoted via the language of freedom to choose. How viable such remote places, such as Sevettijärvi village, will be in the future and what does it do for the rights of the indigenous groups, and their livelihoods?

More generally, the challenge of gender budgeting initiatives has been that they:

• Often focuses on ”soft” topics, but big infrastructure or macro economic issues that impact everyday lives are left out

• What to do in a case where there is very little space to change things: examples from highly indebted municipality that has to cut budgets, or as in the case of Finland where many of the services are implemented by laws: what if the law creates forms of inequality? Budgeting is too late stage to interfere and the focus should be elsewhere

• Which specific groups should have attention? Who are the most vulnerable and least resilient or capable for demanding their rights? How to deal with conflicts of interest? Or politicization of interests?

• Will the more powerful and more vocal have most say? In what ways does participatory approach reiterate what the most vocal, and often most resourceful/powerful want?

There are also challenges. Sometimes the budgeting experience ends up reinforcing stereotypes: what is considered as ”natural” becomes supported by the budget – how could a goal of a social change (such as wellbeing and quality of life for all) and budgeting support one another? Focus on the unpaid domestic labour (cooking, raising children) is a case in point.

How can research support gender budgeting initiatives? Over two years, some of my colleagues have produced short articles, opinion pieces and events for bureaucrats and experts on ”gender gap” in economic decision-making and budgeting. Their efforts have resulted in 45 analyses on specific topics that have directly aimed at supporting politicians and civil society organisations, but also to gain media coverage on such topics such as gendered care responsibilities, municipality budgeting and social and health care services, gendered parental responsibilities and working life equality and impacts of austerity measures (budget cuts) to that of gender equality. Such texts have indicated that cuts to municipal day care budgets are most likely to affect low-wage women whose participation in the labour market is dependent on the day care system, or that under-budgeting for shelters is a structural discrimination against women who face gender-based violence.

A major lesson however of the seminar in Bhuj was that compared with that of the Indian municipalities, and in particular the 74th amendment, is that in Finland there is no mandatory process for ward/citizen’s participation in annual planning and budgeting. This leads to situations where expert knowledge dominates over the experiential one. Furthermore, as our municipal election system is not based on wards/neighbourhoods, councillors do not directly engage with those who elected them, but are seen as informal representatives of the neighbourhoods where they themselves live in. This for me, is a democratic deficiency, that may potentially create situations in which those with biggest voice, best connections and perhaps economic situation have more negotiation power than others.

I look forward to hearing how the planning process for the ward plans in Bhuj proceeds, and I look forward to visting Bhuj again.

With warm regards from Vantaa, Finland,

27 December 2017 (sent for Gujarati translation)

Marjaana Jauhola


Kenen rauha? Turvavyöhykkeen ulkopuolelta

Maanantaina 21.8. klo 18 Tikkurilan kirjastossa pidetyssä “Kenen rauha? Naisaktivisti Zubaidah Djoharin runoja Acehin rauhasta” videokeskustelussa keskityin Scraps of Hope – tuotannon videoihin, joiden lähtökohtana olivat runoilija Zubaidah Djoharin kaksi runoa kokoelmasta “Building a Boat in Paradise” (2014).

Zubaidah Djohar esiintyy Helsingin yliopiston Tiedekulmassa keskiviikkona 1. marraskuuta.

Kokoelmassa on yhteensä 30 runoa ja sen englanninkielisen käännöksen on tehnyt Heather Curnow. Zubaidah käy paljon Acehissa (ml. maaseudulla) lukemassa runojaan. Naisten lauluilla, runoilla ja suullisella perimätiedolla on ollut tärkeä rooli erityisesti aseellisen konfliktin kokemusten jakamisessa kolmen vuosikymmenen aikana, mutta Zubaidahin runot osoittavat runouden merkityksen myöskin rauhan ja sen kokemusten jakamisessa. Zubaidah on kiertänyt runojensa kanssa niin Acehin maakuntaa, Indonesiaa ja hänet on kutsuttu lokakuun lopussa Belgiaan Europaia Festivaaleille.

Indonesialainen kulttuurin ja antropologian tutkija Amrih Widodo Australian valtion yliopistosta toteaa runokokoelman alkusanoissa ”todellisen rauhan etsintää runoudella”, että:

“Djohar tuo suorasukaisesti esille sen, miten naisten sodan kokemukset on marginalisoitu, unohdettu ja normalisoitu laajasti juhlittun Helsingin rauhansopimuksen uusliberalistisen ja developmentalistisen logiikan.

Djoharin runot tuovat esille acehilaisten naisten kehot, kuinka ne kertovat itse oman tarinansa, Djohar esittääkin, että kidutetun, raiskatun äidillisen kehon kautta toisenlainen konfliktin naishistoria avautuu silmiemme eteen. Tämä tarina kertoo parantumattomasta kehosta, joka kannattelee muistoja tapahtuneista arjen rutiineissa rauhan aikana.

Huolimatta tuskallisesta ahdistuksesta, raivoisasta itkusta ja ajoittaisesta epätoivosta, yleinen sävy kokoelmassa on tuoda esille resilienssi ja toivo paremmasta Acehista. Zubaidah vaatii runoissaan useaan otteeseen käsittelemään historian haavoja, lainaten Chakrabartyn käsitettä levottoman menneisyyden väärinymmärrykseen julkisessa keskustelussa.”


Tässä vielä kokonaisuudessaan Zubaidah Djoharin kirjoittama johdanto, ”turvallisuusvyöhykkeen ulkopuolelta”:

Kukaan ei voi olla tyytymätön rauhaan. Voimme hengittää vapaasti ilman pelkoa aseiden räiskettä, voimme matkustaa vapaasti ilman aseellisen konfliktin uhkaa. Voimme pyyhkäistä hien otsaltamme seuratessamme tyttöjen ja poikien leikkiä koulunpihalla. Voimme jopa istua rentoutumaan kahvilaan jutellen ystäviemme kanssa. Rauha on kaikille kuuluva perusihmisoikeus.

Tästä huolimatta, rauha voi menettää merkityksensä jos sitä juhlistetaan ylenmäärin, juopuneena onnellisuuden huumasta. Tässä huumassa unohdamme vastuumme toisistamme, ja toistemme kyyntelten pyyhkimisessä. Kun emme enää kiinnitä huomiota menneisiin tragedioihin, saati että muistaisimme niitä, olemme äkillisen ja selittämättömän muistinmenetyksen lyömiä.

Mitä me muistamme mustimmasta historiastamme? Turvonneet nyrkit luotien esteenä; naistemme kohdut revittyinä ja verta vuotavina? Tuleeko tästä se oppi, jolla omaksumme rauhan? Tuleeko tästä kehityksen suunta maassamme? Me emme saa päästää näiden tarinoiden tulla osaksi nättiä historiallista kansanperinnettämme, tai näännyttää niitä osaksi raportteja jotka arkistoidaan. Ei ole tarvetta itkeä kauaakaan, kun hyvinvointi kukoistaa kuin pelto jota emme ole vielä puineet.

Kolme vuosikymmentä historiaa ei ole helposti unohdettavissa. Tähän historiaan kuuluu verta, kyyneliä ja lastemme tulevaisuus. Tämä ei ole jättänyt jälkeensä ainoastaan turhautumisen, mutta myös palaneet jäämät ihmisarvosta. Tarvitaan vastuullisuutta, totuuden julkistamista ja ihmisyyttä vastaan tehtyjen rikosten myöntämistä. Tämä on avain rauhaan joka vaatii tutkintaa ja sen päättämistä, ennen kuin juhlinta voi alkaa.

Ranskalainen filosofi Paul Ricoeur on esseessään ”figuring the sacred”/pyhän kuvaaminen muistuttaa meitä muistamisen moraalisesta velvoitteesta. Muistaminen ei ole ainoastaan muistikuvan kirkastamista. Se on paljon enemmän. Muistaminen on polku tietoisuuteen historian veloista joita emme ole vielä sopineet sodan uhrien kanssa. Tämä on tehtävä selväksi. Ensiksi pääsyä tietoon, menneisyyden tapahtumien toteaminen, ja tehtyjen rikosten myöntämistä. Tällä tavalla emme ainoastaan estä historiallista muistinmenetystä ja sokeutta menneen todellisiin tapahtumiin, mutta se mahdollistaa ettemme teurasta viattomia uhreja toistamiseen.

Sillä estämme myös heidän elämän tarinoidensa vähättelemisen – näyttämällä, että nämä tarinat kannattaa kertoa.

Canberrassa elokuussa 2014
Scraps of Hope  -lyhytdokumenttisarja non-stop -näytöksinä Tikkurilan kirjastossa su 27.8. saakka kirjaston aukioloaikoina ja Tikkurilan Muuntamossa (Asematie 3b) la 26.8. klo 10-16.

Building a Boat in Paradise -kokoelmaa on ostettavissa 10€ (+postituskulut) hintaan (marjaana.jauholaa(at)helsinki.fi). Kirjan tuotot vähentämättömänä acehilaisen naisjärjestön Balai Syura Ureung Inong Acehin rauhantyöhön.

Etnografisesta kaupunkitutkimuksesta etnografisesti Tikkurilassa

Tässä ensimmäinen postaus Tikkurilasta, jossa työskentelen seuraavat viikot (14.-27.8.) yhteistyössä Tikkurilan kirjaston musiikki-osaston ja Vantaan Muuntamon kanssa. 

Näillä kaupunkitilaan sijoitetuilla työpäivillä on tarkoitus tuoda etnografista, ja feminististä, politiikantutkimusta lähemmäs elettyä ja koettua arkea. Työskentelytapa sopii minulle, sillä olenhan samaan tapaan tehnyt töitä Banda Acehin kaupungissa viimeisten 11 vuoden ajan tutkiessani Suomessa tutuksi tulleen Acehin rauhansopimuksen elettyä ja koettua arkea. Kaupunkitilassa työskentely, hengailu, keskustelu ja kirjoittaminen ovat olleet osa tutkijanarkea.

Aikataulutettuja tapahtumia on seuraavasti:

Lyhytdokumenttielokuvia (yht. kesto 94 min) 14.-27. elokuuta
Tikkurilan kirjaston aukioloaikoina, musiikkiosasto (1.krs)

Ma 14.8. klo 18-20
Aceh calling – globaali punksolidaarisuus

Ma 21.8. klo 18-20
Kenen rauha? Aktivisti Zubaidah Djoharin runoja Acehin rauhasta

La 26. elokuuta klo 10-16
Elävä kirja: tapaa tutkija työssään
Muuntamo, Tikkurilan tori, Asematie 3b
Esitykset ja keskustelu: 10-12, 12-14, 14-16

Lisätietoa lyhytdokumenteista ja etnografisesta kaupunkitutkimuksesta

Turning the gaze at European post-war project

Edit: on 8 Nov 2016 added first paragraph which was not part of the original written talk but improvised on spot
Keynote on Gender and Conflicts at Power Structures, Conflict Resolution and Social Justice Symposium 13-14 October 2016 EU-India Social Science and Humanities Platform (EqUIP) – please check against delivery.

Before I move on to my prepared talk, I want to add: although I am now located in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki I have not studied a single module/course of so called Western-campus-taught Gender/Women’s Studies. Rather, the induction to me was Indian feminists and women’s organisations that I got to know when I lived in India 1999-2001. I want to raise this point here in the context of the discussion started at this symposium earlier today of the need to decolonialize academia. I want to encourage you all with this example: we can actually do quite a lot ourselves by reaching out to “alternative archives”. This learning process has been very informative for me and I can see traces of that in my research, and teaching.

At this particular moment in time, being one of the European keynote speakers at this event, is particularly painful, but I would also say extremely important: turning the gaze towards Europe, Europeaness and the potential violence that these ideas entail.

The painfulness stems from the inability of European leaders or European public, along with their global partners to deal humanely the catastrophes that have been unfolding in front of our eyes for years now. Ironically, the European Union (EU) was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize “for over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” and how this contribution is in stark contrast with the realities of post-war European project, such, as

1. Crises that has been unfolding in Syria for too long – the recent broken cessation of hostilities agreement, attacks on humanitarian aid convoys, hospitals and life line services – it truly breaks my heart participating and negotiating the principles and ACTIONS to be taken in the development of the Finnish 3rd National Action Plan on the implementation of UNSCR1325 – when at the same time, so little hope is visible for Syrians in and outside of Syria

2. Building the fortress Europe, and resulting as a crisis of humanity – the inability to address the catastrophe on the shores of the European union in particular related to migration policies and the return to national self-interests and reinforcing the European Union’s external border with a severe humanitarian cost.

3. Gendered Political Economy: Cedaw committee’s reports on Greece in particular, are alarming: the aftershocks of the 2008 financial crises, especially in the Eurozone, that are felt as new structural forms of gender violence: austerity measures that have brought along with them new forms of gender conservatism and discrimination – measures that have been at the heart of the demands of the troika of IMF, European Central Bank and European commission have been at the forefront – making demands to cut social and health services (major employment sector for women) – but also new restrictions to women’s rights such as sexual and reproductive rights as the recent cases from Spain, and Poland, illustrate

4. Growth of populist right wing politics, Islamophobia and racism and violence that takes form – just to give you a few examples from Finland – campaigns to “close borders” and “protect white Finnish women from brown men” entering Finland as asylum seekers from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries in crises.

5. Sexual politics of peace/post-war reconstruction through images of ‘good and respectable women’: Inability to address history of gendered violence in conflicts internally – I use here 1) the case of “German brides” in Finland, and the demonization of Finnish women who fraternized with German soldiers, and 2) how post-war reconstruction in the aftermath of WWII/Finnish Lapland has meant several decades long oppression of the only indigenous people – Sámi people – in the whole of European Union. 

In the words of Skolt Same activist, theatre director Pauliina Feodoroff: Skolt Sáme world ended after the 1930’s. We Skolt Sámi in three post-Second World War countries of Russia, Finland, Norway live in the spatiality and temporality of apocalypse. Hydropower, nuclear weapons, forced displacements of villages in the name of development, mining activity and cultural change accelerated by wars and displacement have been total: fast and extremely fatal, encompassing all spheres of life. Another Sámi feminist scholar Rauna Kuokkanen (Kuokaanen 2007, Knobblock and Kuokkanen 2015) has suggested that indigenizing the Finnish postwar history writing reaquires mourning of loss and victimhood, without which it is impossible to visualize the future and reabuild oneself and reconstruct the debate in Sámi terms: deal with the question of settler colonialism, conflict between indigenous and post-war recovery market economies, and indigenous political agency.

Let’s have a pause here.

Afore mentioned crises are all taking place simultaneously with another set of global agenda making, i.e. the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and the consequent 7 other resolutions adopted between 2008 and 2015 also known as women/gender, peace and security agenda.

A recent International Affairs journal’s special issue (March 2016) dedicated to the theme made the following observations:

– WPS agenda is not uniform, in theory, concept or practice

– WPS/UNSCR1325 agenda is most successful at a policy document and resolution level – but not as being translated into various fields of ‘practice’

– Although celebrated as a comprehensive agenda to address gendered conflicts, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction processes, the implementation, and planning for National Action Plans by the member states has been selective: giving stronger focus on violence prevention and protection (from gender and sexual violence) than on women’s participation in peace and security governance.

– Narrowing down the agenda has ambiguous/paranoid political implications: there is a clear need to focus on conflict related sexual violence, however, losing the focus on participation risks losing the critical significance of articulating women as agents of change in conflict and post-conflict environments AS both right-bearers and rights-protectors

– The focus purely on the conflict-related sexual violence closes the feminist scholar’s observation of the ‘continuum of violence’ – in fact, the peace processes, peace settlements can be dangerous fruits for new forms of gendered discrimination in legal, political and economic spheres.

– Special issue editors Laura Shepherd and Paul Kirby make suggestions: an alternative would be to making the links between sexualized violence and participation visible: and in fact pay attention to how sexualized and gender-based violence inhibits women’s (or more widely those subjectification to Gender-based violence) participation in formal and informal politics. Secondly, it would require acknowledgement that WPS agenda cannot be advocated and implemented without more comprehensive focus on reparation and development, connecting protection and prevention of violence to the questions of rule of law, economic, political, social rights and holistic wellbeing


– Focus on the UNSCR1325, or implementation is on foreign policy oriented, and UNSCR1325 has therefore become a tool for country-branding

– In the case of Finland, this has led into a severe construction of a myth of “achieved gender equality” – that can be experts elsewhere through gender knowhow and expertism – which remains completely unable to tackle domestic intersections of gender with other social inequalities and oppressions, or the aforementioned crises

– in advocating implementation of UNSCR1325 through peace mediation, humanitarian assistance at the same time when the government has in fact cut down its development aid budget, made several revisions that harden the policies towards refugees and asylum seekers and have allowed continuous growth of neo-nazi, racist movements that not only pose verbal but also physical threat to those opposing them.

I suppose the big (research) questions that I have in mind while wanting to juxtapose these parallel phenomena and political processes, is the following:

1. what happens to the feminist and gender theorising and/or activism on peace & conflicts when they become institutionalized into regional, or state-focused foreign policy agenda – that may become handmaidens or essential part of nationalist, populist, and racist agendas?

2. Following from that, is the following question: What new feminist conceptual and analytical tools do we need to study the lack of policy coherence between interior, migration/refugee, humanitarian, development, trade (arms trade in particular), allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of the linkages, often silenced, between policy agendas – that have gendered effects.

It is these times that set up a test for Europe, or European states as “promoters of ideas and values” – juxtaposition that is made in comparison to focus on military and economic power. Normative power Europe is in crises, if it cannot deliver the same normative basis of human rights, humanity and principles of wellbeing to people who are being subjected to right-wing politics, guarding and closing borders.

Thirdly, it is necessary to ask the fundamental question of the discriminative threat of the wording in Lisbon Treaty that establishes the aim of the European Union to “to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples”. Who counts as ’its peoples’? Who is left out from this notion of European well-being? Using sociologist Gurminder Bhambra’s words: ”such social theorists of European crisis fail to address the colonial histories of Europe. This failure enables to dismiss Europe’s postcolonial & multicultural present” (Bhambra 2015)

Finally, these questions, the divide between the “policy talk” and “implementation” and increasing definition of concepts and terminology to serve specific groups and their entitlements in the face of crises that are global, and that require global, not nationalistic solutions. How do we translate them into theoretical-methodological discussions that go beyond ‘discourse’ as texts and speeches and focus on structures, and embodied materiality. What is the real gendered cost of the fortress Europe, or any other attempt to construct post-war/conflict states and identities – and how should we address them?

Non-Linked References

Bhambra, Gurminder K.. 2015. Whither Europe?. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 18(2), 187-202. 

Knobblock, Ina and Kuokkanen,Rauna ‘Decolonizing feminism in the North: a conversation with Rauna Kuokkanen’, NORA—Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 23: 4, 2015, pp. 275–81.

Kuokkanen, Rauna ‘Saamelaiset ja kolonialismin vaikutukset nykypäivänä’, in Joel Kuortti, Mikko Lehtonen and Olli Löytty, eds, Kolonialismin jäljet: keskustat, periferiat ja Suomi (Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2007).

Image credits: Cristiano Salgado, Expresso, Portugal