News Releases

Do Households Matter in the 2018 Budget?

For Release Upon Receipt - October 4, 2017

St. Augustine

The Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, calls upon the members of the House of Representatives, as they embark on the 2017-2018 budget debate, to compel government to ensure the provisions of the approved 2017-2018 Budget protects households and advances gender justice in Trinidad and Tobago.

As the country engages in the many post-budget deliberations, and we await the heated debate in both houses of parliament, the IGDS calls on legislators to recognise that crucial to the national budgeting process is gender responsive budgeting which takes the needs of the household into account. The Institute insists that while government may be satisfied with intermittently quantifying men’s and women’s access to public resources, this is not sufficient. Necessary is the re-evaluation of indicators of success and the collection and allocation of public resources in ways that foster Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to local and international mandates for gender equality, equity, empowerment and justice for all.  At the IGDS’ Pre-Budget Public Forum – “Budget for Gender Justice: Make Households Matter to the House” on September 13, speakers established the need for multi-dimensional approaches to data collection. Reliable data, they explained, is critical to successful fiscal policy and thus research must reflect sufficient depth, breadth and disaggregation to account for the complex needs of citizens.

Panelists included Dr Marlene Attzs, Carolyn Seepersad–Bachan, Dr Keron King, Dr Oscar Ocho, and Dr Gabrielle Hosein, who chaired the discussion. Significantly, the Hon. Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, attended as a guest respondent, announcing some of government’s plans to centralise data collection for policy planning and explaining that issues of gender are addressed as inherent in government’s efforts to meet the needs of citizens. However, those at the forum agreed that gender responsive budgeting must be undertaken as both a process and an outcome of policy making, recognizing that such budgets do not necessarily respond to deliberate instances of gender inequality but to structural and systemic inequalities that have long plagued strategies to equitably distribute resources.

The panelists’ discussion was informed by preliminary research by the IGDS to track trends in budgetary allocations, expenditure, investments and projections within select sectors in Trinidad and Tobago. This research, designed to inform public conversation on the budget, is aimed at establishing the basis of a Gender Justice Scorecard to assess fiscal policy making in Trinidad and Tobago. Preliminary findings reflect a clear absence of necessary data to develop gender sensitive, evidence-based policy making in Trinidad and Tobago. The greatest challenge being that too many data sets fail to be disaggregated by sex, and too frequently, budgetary allocations to government ministries could not be relevantly and transparently connected to programming and project expenditure.

Focus of programming and project reports remains too generalised, accounting for administrative functions rather than measures of the outcomes of investments and the impact of those outcomes on target populations. The IGDS calls on policymakers to recognise that without details, actual and potential beneficiaries become invisible, along with issues that undermine benefits. Overly generalised data reporting does not effectively centre people because in its structure, it does not capture how programming and projects influence people’s lives. People exist primarily in the household and feel the effects of budgeting first in the household.

The Institute for Gender and Development Studies calls on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to focus their fiscal policy on one that fosters equitable, people-centred, and gender aware development. Gender responsive budgeting requires a clear, sustained commitment to mitigating negative outcomes consistent with increased market oriented efficiency in the economy.

Please see the list below with IGDS-affiliated persons who will be available to answer gender responsive questions related to the 2017-2018 post- budget deliberations:

Denise Demming – Mobile/WhatsApp: +1 (868) 761-9426;   Email:

Nicole Hendrickson – Mobile only +1 (868) 756-0151;   Email:

Gia Gaspard-Taylor – Mobile/WhatsApp: +1 (868) 683-4251; Email:

Hazel Brown – Mobile/WhatsApp: +1 (868) 686-7710 Email:




About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)