Source: The Herald
Loud ululations capture the moment and joy reflected on the people's faces. The local authority has just announced that it will invest in constructing a borehole for the community.
Living in an arid area, the women have to travel about 3km to the nearest water source. In joy, the women clap and ululate at this development.

This is the first borehole to be dug and this is a life-changing moment for them. This borehole has just opened endless possibilities.

It is not only a source of water, but to them, it has provided the resources and facilities needed for them to perform their roles effectively, such as producing more vegetables from their garden farming, as well as clean water for their families.

One can be effective in performing their responsibilities when they have the necessary resources.

This comes in recognition of the need to mainstream gender in budgets, which is important as it analyses how ministry or local council spending addresses the specific priority needs and interests of women and men, girls and boys, recognising their different roles and responsibilities in society.

The budget is the core instrument with which governments are able to set plans and policies in motion, allocating resources towards identified priorities. Targeted resource allocation has a significant impact on service delivery.

If citizens are provided with adequate resources they can be able to perform their responsibilities in society successfully.

Gender responsive budgeting is a tool and a process that can be employed to mainstream gender in the national budget.

It is a good governance policy tool, which can be used to analyse how governments use budgets to translate policies into commitments in terms of expenditure on public priorities like water reticulation, health and education. A budget is therefore a powerful tool to meet the needs of the poor and marginalised.

According to the 2015 Human Development Report, 35,1 percent of parliamentary seats in Zimbabwe are held by women, and 48,7 percent of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education compared to 62.0 percent of their male counterparts.

For every 100 000 live births, 470 women die from pregnancy related causes; and the adolescent birth rate is 60,3 births per 1 000 women of ages 15-19. Female participation in the labour market is 83,2 percent compared to 89,7 for men.

It is the task of government and other stakeholders to improve these indicators, and the national budget can play a role to close these gender gaps.

Gender inequalities can be addressed by gender responsive planning in areas of education, health and market participation as these benefit poor men and women most.

A gender budget analysis, for example, might find that cuts in spending on agriculture fall most heavily on poor women farmers. Restoring the agriculture budget could increase household incomes, raise agricultural production and improve the quality of life for all villagers.

By permitting better-targeted and more efficient use of government resources, gender budgeting benefits men and women alike.

The artificial separation of public work (market and government) and private (household and community) work cheats women of the rewards they ought to get for their labour and results in a misallocation of resources.

Gender responsive budgeting is sensitive to these invisible roles women and men play in production, particularly the roles which do not enter the market and are not computed or reflected in the national statistics but do contribute to the national wealth like caring for the young and old, food processing and socialisation.

Gender responsive budgeting does not seek to create new budgets for women but is a general budget that is planned, approved, executed, monitored and audited in a gender sensitive way.

It, however, incorporates affirmative action expenditure intended to uplift the status of marginalised groups like women and the disabled. In this way, gender budgets redress past inequalities.

Gender responsive budgeting is a national priority and is included in the National Gender Policy adopted (2013 - 2018). The policy includes the adoption of a gender sensitive economic policy planning and budgeting approach in order to achieve gender justice and inequality in socio-economic areas.

In this regard the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon Patrick Chinamasa, in his 2016 Budget Statement highlighted that, "Notwithstanding resource constraints, the 2016 Budget prioritises women empowerment projects and programmes, especially in view of the fact that 52 percent of total population are women."

The expectation is therefore that resources will be allocated towards implementing programmes that touch on strategic issues highlighted in the Zimbabwe Constitution, the National Gender Policy, Zim-Asset and regional and international gender equality commitments.

This should be the case for the anticipated 2017 budget.

By Yolanda Ndlovu

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