In a positive step towards gender equality, the Gender Budget Group (GBG), led by Engender Consultancy and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Malaysia launched a gender responsive budget-in-practice (GRBiP) programme – a collaborative pilot initiative for two key ministries on 4 July.
The GRBiP programme, held from 4-6 July 2022 at the MoF, was a three-day workshop aiming to build ministry capacity towards ensuring a national budget that leaves no one behind. This programme was also supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Yayasan Sime Darby.
As we enter an endemic phase and as Malaysia recovers from the devastating impact of Covid, it is critical that a gender-responsive approach be made central to all rebuilding efforts.
Gender-responsive budgeting notes the differences in situations, roles, contributions and needs of all segments of the community, including women, men, girls and boys – and seeks to address the lived realities of these different communities and strata of society.
At its core, gender-responsive budgeting and gender mainstreaming efforts acknowledge the discrimination and disadvantages faced by women, especially as it intersects with other identities such as ethnicity, disability and minority status. It aims to reduce disparity in access to resources and opportunities by considering various challenges women may face in achieving equality.
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In recognising the impact of gender-responsive budgeting on women and marginalised communities, efforts have been made to incorporate this approach in strengthening recovery and facilitating reforms towards sustainable socioeconomic resilience for all in Malaysia.
In its pre-Budget statement on 3 June, the MoF expressed its commitment to gender-responsive budgeting, and in preparation for the national Budget, the MoF’s annual Budget circular to ministries outlined gender analysis as a key requirement to improve resource distribution as well as to uphold our national commitment to gender equality.
“The budget circular (Pekeliling Perbendeharaan 1.3) seeks to ensure gender analysis in the operational and development budgets improving resource allocation. It is about ensuring provisions of equality, equity and opportunity for all by recognising and targeting different needs. We need to step up where women are achieving lower outcomes by utilising a gender lens to provide equal access,” expressed Johan Mahmood Merican, deputy secretary general of the Treasury (Policy) at the GRBiP workshop launch.
To this end, the GRBiP programme is timely in bolstering the ministry’s work in its implementation of Budget 2022 allocations and in preparation for Budget 2023. It aims to help ministries deepen their understanding of gender-responsive budgeting processes and its application to improve gender outcomes in budgets, policies and service delivery. It especially focuses on building ministry capacities in gender-mainstreaming as well as in responding to the MOF’s annual Budget call circular.
This was echoed by Omna Sreeni-Ong, co-lead of the Gender Budget Group, “[GRB and the GRBiP Programme] encourages the cross-cutting inclusion of a gender perspective in policies and national programmes; thereby translating government’s commitments for gender equality into monetary commitments. We are cognisant that operationalising GRB requires ongoing capacity building in all areas of budget formulation, implementation, monitoring & evaluation, and impact assessment; that it is a long-term process that needs an integrated approach and importantly, engagement with multiple stakeholders – particularly the voices of women and other disadvantaged groups.”
The training programme kicked off with an e-gender-responsive budgeting workshop by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, followed by two full days of learning with the gender focal points, finance, monitoring and evaluation, policy and programme implementation divisions as well as statisticians of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives.
This will be further complemented by a pertinent gender data and Budget 2022 scrutiny component in August to support effective implementation that will benefit all in Malaysia.
The Gender Budget Group and the MoF are confident that this collaborative effort will raise our collective capacity in advancing gender equality. – GBG/WAO