What you need to know:
- A legal framework ensuring national and county budgets are responsive to the gender needs is missing.
- Stakeholders are now calling on female MPs to push for review of the Public Finance Management Act (2012) to ring-fence allocations towards gender priorities.
- In Uganda, it is mandatory for Minister of Finance to issue a certificate affirming the budget framework paper is gender and equity responsive prior to submission to Parliament for approval.
- Female legislators advised to be strategic in pushing for gender responsive budgeting.
Money is at the core of achieving gender equality in Kenya. However, a legal framework ensuring national and county budgets are responsive to the gender needs is missing, risking the pace of achieving Sustainable Development Goals 5.
Development stakeholders are now calling on female legislators to push for review of the Public Finance Management Act (2012) (PFMA Act) to ring-fence allocations towards gender priorities.
In a September 16 Space of Women in National Resource Sharing and Budget Making Processes workshop Parliamentary Budget Office, director Ms Phylis Makau said PFMA Act which underpins budgetary allocations, lacks in provisions obligating government ministries, departments and agencies to engender their budgets.
Ms Makau, who has 30 years’ experience in public finance, exemplified Uganda whose PFMA Act demands of engendering the budget framework paper.
It is mandatory for Minister of Finance to issue a certificate affirming the budget framework paper as being gender and equity responsive prior to submission to Parliament for approval as provided in the Section 9(6(a-b).
Further, a certificate will not be issued if the framework fails to specify measures taken to equalise opportunities for women, men, persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups. This certification is done in consultation with Equal Opportunities Commission.
Gender responsive test
“Honourable senators, honourable members of the National Assembly, please go to the PFM law and sponsor an amendment,” she said during the workshop held at a Nairobi city hotel.
“There is no reason why we cannot amend the PFMA Act and include the certificate,” added Ms Makau in the forum jointly organised by Echo Network Africa (Ena), Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).
She said the fact that budget policy framework is reviewed on the basis of existing policy strategies means national and county budgets will fail in gender responsive test owing to explicit lack of budget engendering provisions in finance and budget legislations.
“In government there is no free lunch, somebody pays for it,” she said.
“As women, our work is to ensure, women don’t pay more. But as it is at the moment, the women are paying more,” she added.
Kepsa Foundation trustee Mr Sam Mwale challenged Kewopa to steer engendering of the national and county budgets.
“Begin to look at who writes the numbers and ensure women are represented at that level (of decision making,” he said.
He advised the female legislators to be strategic in pushing for gender responsive budgeting.
“Look at the players in the budget process…who makes the decisions? Who puts the numbers there? Who allocates the line items and how many are led by women,” he pointed out.
In Europe, Spain has succeeded in reducing gender inequalities through gender responsive budgeting legislation.
It is the most improved country globally in narrowing gender inequalities having risen 21 places to rank 8th out of 153 countries analysed in the Global Gender Gap Report (2020) by World Economic Forum (WEF).
It has an Organic Law of Effective Equality of Women and Men (2007), simply known as Equality Law.
Under this law, public administrations in the national, regional and local level are required to mainstream gender budgeting.
They have progressively addressed needs of men and women thus the rise in ranking.
The law explicitly provides for more gender-balanced political representation. It obligates public bodies and companies with more than 250 employees to develop equality plans. It also prescribes creation of gender units within all ministries to reinforce gender mainstreaming.