Editor's Comment

Gender-responsive budget – a step to gender equality

COPPER BUDGET briefcase

THE fight against gender-based violence (GBV) should now be taken to a higher level.
The recent trend of killings where women are turning their anger on their husbands is a source of concern to all those who wish to foster peace among couples.
We may not know why the trend has taken a new twist but we want to say that we are concerned at the rate the incidents are going. In fact, we say there should be no incidence of such a nature at all.
Violence, in any way, does not pay. It is the aggressor who has to pay for inflicting violence against a victim, through the legally constituted means.
A number of interventions have been put in place by both government and non-governmental organisations to help stem the vice but all their efforts seem not to have borne any fruit. The vice seems to be on the increase.
It is, therefore, gratifying that President Edgar Lungu, out of his concern to take the fight against GBV to another level, has directed the Ministry of Finance to integrate gender-responsive budgeting principles in the national planning and budgeting process.
The President, who was speaking when he officiated at the commemoration of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in Kafue yesterday, said taking this approach in the budgeting system will help to address specific gender needs and enhance equal distribution of finances among women, men and children.
He further noted that a gender-responsive budget will help to draw attention to issues that have been ignored in the conventional budgeting and decision-making.
A gender responsive budget pays attention to the impact that a budget has on the different sexes because of their gender and it is also a breakdown and disaggregation of the main budget. At the most, it is a mainstreaming of gender.
We want to say that the directive by the President is a recognition of the gender equality commitments that Zambia has made in line with international conventions the country has acceded to.
Among these is the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Women, which seek the good of women in Zambia.
The directive is further a recognition of the gender gaps that still exist between men and women. In Zambia, it is not an exaggeration that gaps still exist and these are in favour of men, who at the most seem to be better advantaged against women.
This we see from everyday life where some wives choose to suffer ‘silently’ at the hands of brutal husbands because they do not have any source of income.
With gender-responsive budgeting in place, the needs of disadvantaged women are taken care of in that government, at the highest level, seeks to put into perspective the principles for achieving gender equality and empowerment.
A number of women depend on their husbands for everyday life and that is why most of them remain in their marriages even when they are abused.
A gender-responsive budget, as an answer to women empowerment, will seek to make such disadvantaged women financially stand on their own through some initiatives that government puts in place to empower them with.
With such initiatives, the nation will definitely see a push towards gender equality and equity and hopefully a gradual reduction in the number of cases of gender-based violence.
The gender-responsive budgeting principles should seek to come up with initiatives that will close the gap between men and women so that together they are able to foster development at an equal level.
One of the practical steps government has taken is the funding of sanitary towels for girls in school. We commend government for this initiative, which is rooted in this year’s budget, and we are confident that it will improve school attendance for girls.
The directive by President Lungu is a progressive move towards women empowerment and a long-time cry for women movements seeking gender equality and gender equity.

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