The national budget is not responsive to gender issues, irrespective of sex-disaggregated data available on social issues.
This was the view of Rosina Mubonenwa, deputy director in the ministry of gender equality, yesterday when she presented the ministry's stance and progress on a gender responsive budget (GRB) at a gathering organised by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) in Windhoek.
The event was themed 'Adapting To Fiscal Constraints, With Special Focus On The Budget and Gender.'
Mubonenwa said the budget is too general, and fails to explicitly state how it will address what the sex-disaggregated data on various social indicators shows.
The ministry is busy facilitating the mainstreaming of gender responsiveness measures in all policies to be implemented, but she agreed that most of the policies were drafted blindly, without any gender awareness.
Instead, all such data indicate is the money allocated to various projects, without going further on how it will address specific gender needs.
Sex-disaggregated data is information that includes both male and female participants, on the different experiences, needs, interests and access to opportunities and resources so as to establish an accurate picture of the local context. Mubonenwa thus called for all planning prior to budget formulation to be guided by the sex-disaggregated data available to ensure that the budget is gender-responsive.
More should also be done so that the data (sex-disaggregated) collected by institutions such as the Namibia Statistics Agency also ask why, instead of just collecting and storing.
The gender equality ministry has devised GRB tools, and they have been disseminated to various government ministries and agencies to assist them in implementing and budgeting gender-responsively, as opposed to the current gender insensitive type of budgeting.
Mubonenwa said the issue at hand will not only be solved by having a separate budget, but through equitably cutting the national cake to address gender needs.
On her presentation titled 'Gender Analysis and the Budget Paper', Ndapwa Alweendo, a research associate at the IPPR said to have a responsive budget, consistent gender analysis has to be done. She said the ministry of gender equality can use gender indicators such as the ratio of women to men promoted to senior levels in government or the private sector, and the number of women with access to healthcare.
These indicators will enable the government to assess the impact of their policies and legislation on gender-specific needs.
Alweendo added that the regular monitoring and evaluation of gender equality allocations and interventions are key to see how responsive the budget is. She reiterated that if one analyses the current budget, there is very little mention of specific gender projects, which indicate the vagueness in addressing gender-specific issues in the country. The eagerness of the government to have a responsive budget is not convincing, as only N$202 000 has been allocated to achieving gender-responsive budgeting, Alweendo stated.
The amount does not reflect the mammoth task involved in training people in various ministries, and to ensure a smooth implementation of the GRB exercise. She advised the public that they can also do their own gender analysis of the budget or any government policies, legislation and other documents by checking voices captured in the policies.