Monrovia – Members of the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on budget and Gender have concluded a day-long training workshop organized by the joint initiative of the United Nations system and the European Union in partnership with civil society organizations.
The workshop is intended to strengthen the Legislature’s budget and Gender committees’ capacity in Gender Responsive Planning, budgeting and monitoring to address violence against women and girls (VAWG), sexual gender-based violence (SGBV), harmful practice (HP) and promote women and girls’ Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).
The workshop provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate significant, concerted and comprehensive investment in gender equality and how it can make a transformative difference in the lives of women and girls, as well as contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The national budget is a fundamental indicator of what government proposes to do and what objectives it pursues.
It presents the government’s financial plans for an upcoming period and is a comprehensive statement of the priorities of the nation.
In Liberia, the role of the Legislature in the budgetary process hinges on the existence of effective committee structures, which are considered the engine room.
The Gender Responsive Budgeting Program Specialist at UN Women Liberia, Straven H. Willie said a strong parliamentary committee system is a precondition for efficient parliamentary involvement and input in the budget process.
“As a result, there is a growing concern that the formulation of the national development plan and national budget are biased against women and girls because the allocation of funds and actual expenditure to implement the development programmes are undertaken without much consideration to their specific needs which are determined by their productive and reproductive roles and molded by the prevailing socio-cultural traditions,” Straven discloses.
He said it enhances parliamentarians’ knowledge in Gender Responsive Planning, budgeting and monitoring to address VAWG, SGBV/HP and promote women and girls’ SRHR; strengthen the capacity of parliamentarian in Gender Responsive Planning, budgeting and monitoring to address VAWG, SGBV/HP and promote women and girls’ SRHR and recommend policy options to ensure budget allocations and expenditures are gender-responsive.
Speaking earlier, UN Women Country Representative to Liberia, Marie Goreth Nizigama said gender responsive planning and budgeting has both intrinsic and instrumental relevance.
She said gender responsive planning and budgeting is critical for eliminating gender inequalities and its application will bring significant improvements in social, educational, health and economic indicators of Liberia.
“With the facts, tools and enhanced capacity, legislative committees can review, monitor and assess the budget and can make meaningful suggestions that can change the lives of women and girls in Liberia,” she said.
Liberia has signed and ratified many international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and International Human rights treaty, yet, the country lags behind in development indicators.
The UN Women boss, however, commended the legislature for passing the domestic violence act, saying, “While we commend the passing of the domestic violence act this week, there is now a need for strong commitment from the government for its implementation.”
She disclosed that the economic rationale for promoting a gender-responsive planning and budgeting also emanates from efficiency and equity perspectives, and the fact that gender-responsive policies are designed to steer the economy towards the desired developmental agenda.
“I hope that your valuable engagement in this workshop will better equip you with information and tools in being a champion in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Liberia,” she concluded.