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Lessons From Kumba Gender Budgeting Workshop 

By Azore Opio

There has been growing awareness in Cameroon that lessons learned from gender responsive budget, GRB, initiatives could provide a useful entry point to measure aid effectiveness, by ensuring that national and sector budgets are allocated and disbursed in a gender-equitable way.

It is in this light that some women’s groups recently brainstormed at the Women Empowerment Centre in Kumba, in their efforts to streamline public expenditure and budget processing in councils in the Southwest Region. The women and youth groups subsequently concluded that they need immense sensitisation using women-friendly communication media, and a watchdog needs to be activated to increase the participation of women.

They also observed that openness and willingness of council authorities and women representatives is necessary for success in GRB in the municipalities; synergy is needed between female councillors and female council staff, female MPs, and MINPROFF (Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family) for joint action on GRB. They also agreed that holding regular popular gender audits would increase the level of communication between the council and women groups; and that to master the council budget process, stakeholders need to be trained by the council.

Further lessons learned at the workshop included the transfer of local ownership, which requires the presence of a focal person at the council level; the need to motivate women to secure their effective participation, and the involvement or participation of MINPROFF officials as being critical for success.

The women also focused on the proper sensitisation of local authorities, which is more likely to allow for picketing if the objectives are clearly defined, asserting that women groups and MINPROFF staff need to be more proactive, assertive with appropriate negotiation skills for effective lobbying of locally elected officials and their collaborators.

The women recommended, among others, more pro-activeness on the part of women group representatives and meetings with council authorities on GRB issues, as they search and identify partners who could help elaborate gender responsive projects and submit to councils; women group representatives should ensure the incorporation of GRB activities in the council budget at the planning, execution, monitoring & evaluation stages.

The rationale for GRB is that it could improve the allocation of resources to women, mainstream gender into macro-economics and development, strengthen civil society participation in economic policy-making, enhance linkages between economic and social policy outcomes, track public expenditure against gender and development policy commitments, and contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.

It could also increase state-citizenship accountability and reduce corruption, increase transparency in the budget process through demand for information, challenge policy makers to think through the application of policies in relation to outputs and outcomes, be a tool for addressing gender discrimination, allow governments to comply to international obligations such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. The workshop was organised by MUDEC Group and partners with financial help from the EU.

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