Liberia: UN Women Concern about Women Sensitive Budget
MONROVIA – It is no secret that Liberian women face discrimination and marginalization in many ways. Deeply entrenched attitudes against women and girls, perpetuate inequality and discrimination against women in public and private life, on a daily basis. UN Women mindful of this fact has made it her mandate to shift the narrative by constantly engaging and supporting the national legislature through the budgeting process to use evidence-based analysis as a way of supporting the budget committee to take steps in ensuring budgetary allocations addresses gender gaps and ultimately issue around violence against girls, women and harmful practices.
On Thursday, July 8, 2021, with support from the EU UN Spotlight Initiative Program, members of the National Budget Committee participated in a presentation on gender analysis of 4 sectors (health, education, gender and youth and sports) with the aim of enhancing the capacity of the Budget Committee on gender-responsive planning and budgeting in other to ensure resources are allocated for women economic empowerment and to addresses violence against women/harmful practices (VAGW/HP) and gender equality issues within the national budget. Participated by 18 Budget Committee members including the committee on Gender.
The convening generated robust discussions with firm commitments on the part of the lawmakers. At the presentation, key among the findings is that none of the four institutions, (ministry of health, education, gender, children and social protection and ministry of youth and sports) had allocations to address specific gender inequality issues.
It also cautioned that the current method of line-item budgeting made it difficult to determine which budget lines support gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) implementation while at the same time noting that there was no disaggregated data in the budget plan. Importantly, the personnel expenditures accounted for 83% of total budgetary allocations for the four sector analyzed combined while non-personnel expenditures, including goods and services, capital and transfers account for 17%. This is an indication of limited or zero funding to address gender equality issues.
What stood out prominent was the current budget clearly undermines the Government of Liberia National Gender Policy in which the government committed to breaking away from its past and assured citizens that it will demonstrate high political will and commitment to eliminate all forms of gender based discrimination in order to achieve gender equality.
It is often said, that the value a country places on its society or citizens can be clearly seen by the nature of its budget as to who gets paid for what, and what percentage of the budget goes to who and for what purpose. On that note, the budget committee members, committed to making incremental effort through the FY 2021 budget which can be measured at the end of the budget cycle.
They also recommended the need for UN Women to engage the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning from the early stages of the budget preparation to make sure some of these concerns are address before the submission of the executive draft budget proposal to the legislature.