What you need to know:
- Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia said women and men want equal opportunities politically, economically, socially and culturally to maximize their potential and enjoy quality of life.
- CS noted that women leaders should train their focus to resource allocation and support from female and male political and policy leaders.
- Prof Margaret Kamar said things must change by having women get involved in budget-making and revenue sharing processes.
- Meeting proposed that women be involved in the ‘baking’ and sharing of the national cake.
Women in Kenya are significantly underrepresented in decision-making positions on budget and resource allocation.
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa), Common Women Agenda (Cowa), Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa), Kenya Pipeline, and Eco Network Africa thus organised a workshop dubbed ‘Women’s Space in Resource Sharing and Budget Making’.
The workshop, attended by women leaders in politics, private sector and civil society, discussed the space of women in resource allocation; public finance management; budget process and gender responsive budgeting.
To overcome the challenge, there was consensus on the need to focus on legislation.
Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia, who is behind the Cowa movement, said women and men want equal opportunities politically, economically, socially and culturally to maximize their potential and enjoy quality of life.
She noted that gender equality is a global concern as outlined in global women conferences such as Mexico 1975, Copenhagen 1980, Nairobi 1985 and Beijing in 1995.
She added that the Sustainable Development Goal 5 and Agenda 2063 are specific to the development of women and youth.
“The reason for not achieving much in gender quality push as expected ranges from negative cultural values, patriarchal practices, prejudice and stereotypes, poverty, discrimination, exclusion, lack of knowledge, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and poor and weak leadership in women’s movements,” said Prof Kobia.
The CS noted that women leaders need to re-think their approach in the pursuit of their agenda on greater equity for all.
“Although women remain significantly underrepresented in decision-making positions in relation to budget and resource allocation, it is important to look beyond the numbers and focus on what women leaders can accomplish while in their current positions” she said.
Prof Kobia observed that women leaders should train their focus to resource allocation and support from female and male political and policy leaders.
Senate Deputy Speaker Prof Margaret Kamar said things must change by having women get involved in budget-making and revenue sharing processes in the country. She noted that the discrimination against women in the process dawned on her during the recent stand-off on revenue sharing formula in the Senate.
The deputy speaker said she was shocked to see that nominated senators, majority of who are women, are not allowed to vote in such crucial national matters.
“That is the worst situation you can put a human being in. As women, we want to speak louder and bring change. We do not want nominations any longer but rather, we want one man one woman senator in every county to bring equality,” she said.
Kitui South MP Dr Rachel Nyamai said those in government, National Assembly and the Senate must plan with women in mind. The Parliamentary Land Committee chairperson added that those responsible for implementing government policies and projects should be gender sensitive.
“During evaluation of those policies and projects, we should always check whether what was planned for women has been done,” said Ms Nyamai.
The MP added that the number of women in Parliament has improved gradually, giving them an opportunity to champion their agenda, and look at the budget from a woman’s perspective.
She, however, decried the few number of women in the Budget and Finance committee.
The lawmaker stressed on the need to push for at least 30 per cent of chairpersons of committees in the National Assembly and Senate to be women.
She appealed to women to form groups and make proposals to the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary and the government on what they want incorporated in the budget.
Institute of Economic Affairs chief executive officer Kwame Owino said women parliamentarians should make sure the budget on social expenditure like education, health among others, is not cut to service the country’s huge debt.
He noted that women leaders have a duty to ensure wastage and corruption in the public sector is reduced by adding their voice.
The economist gave an example of maternal mortality rate for 2018 which shows that for every 100,000 live births, 324 mothers lost their lives. A thing he said should make women leaders ensure every shilling that goes out of public coffers goes to make lives better.
The workshop devised a raft of resolutions to bring women at the centre of budget-making and resources sharing.
It proposed that women be involved in the ‘baking’ and sharing of the national cake, which includes generating revenue and resources while being beneficiaries of the same.
The participants also resolved to guard and push for the full implementation of Article 43 of the Constitution on health, agriculture, water, housing and social security.
Economic stimulus package
On public finance management, the women leaders want rights enshrined in the Constitution prioritised to ensure men and women benefit equally.
They also resolved to guard against any cuts to spending on social expenditure and Article 43 rights due to mounting debt and pressure brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also proposed is a policy framework around the Economic Stimulus Package and Credit Guarantee Scheme by the government to have a protected quarter for women.
The workshop resolved to root for the setting aside of two per cent of the national budget to gender responsive programmes in all sectors including government ministries, and ensure every policy framework brought in Parliament has gender disaggregated data to help in identifying any gender gaps.
On legal framework, Kewopa was tasked to pursue an amendment of the Public Finance Management Act on gender responsiveness similar to what Uganda and Rwanda have.