Story by Elina Omwoha
On 14th March 2015, 40 residents of Njiru participated in a Gender Responsive Budgeting workshop facilitated by Consolation East Africa. The training addressed the challenges faced by women in their various escapades. The challenges were in participation in public interest processes, political leadership, pushing for political accountability and having low skills and capacities.
Facilitators and participants discussed about their experiences of championing for GRB in their respective sub-counties. The workshop also featured other topics such as Gender and human rights, Women and Political leadership, Budget cycle and Social Audit.
The gender responsive budget was introduced by Millicent Agutu, who defined gender responsive budgeting as
“a deliberate government planning, programming and budgeting that contributes to the advancement of gender equality and the fulfillment of women’s rights.” GRB aims at strengthening the capacity of the government to embed gender perspectives into all its governance processes. Gender on the other hand was defined as; the state of being male or female with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological.
GRB is not only confined to governance issue but it should also be seen as a human rights issue. Human rights are considered as basic entitlements calling on governments to provide and protect them. Human rights are inalienable and do include right to life, right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of media, freedom of religion and economic and social rights (food, education, clean and safe water and social security). These rights and those that include gender based rights are entrenched in the constitution in its bill of rights chapter and in the various affirmative action provisions. These are as follow:
- The Kenyan constitution provides for the enactment of legislation for the protection of matrimonial property with special interest on the matrimonial home, during and upon the termination of the marriage.
- The Constitution maintains a one third requirement for either gender in elective bodies giving women of Kenya at least 1/3 minimum in elective public bodies, of which we are still far from, due to the fact that in Kenya we do not have a woman governor, a senator and most MCA’s are nominated and worst is the position of women representatives held by men-women representatives.
- The new Kenyan Constitution accords the right to health including reproductive health to all.
- Kenyan women are able to pass on citizenship to their children regardless of whether or not they are married to Kenyans.
- The new constitution assures that parental responsibility shall be shared between parents regardless of marital status.
- That the workshop was to address the empowerment of civil society and more so towards women who the patriarchal structure embody as ‘’beasts of burden. ‘This is perceived as the unique requirement of women in the wider society.
- That gain for women derived from the current constitution includes; life in relation to the right of abortion when and if the life of the mother is in danger, child and parental responsibilities, entitlement to property like land inheritance from the parents, social and economic infrastructural rights among others.
- That the general rights of children include; freedom from slavery and forced labour, socio-economic development, entitlement to a culture and language attached values.
Discussion: What hinders women from political leadership?
This section was facilitated by Edna Wanjiku, who involved the women into the discussion by asking them the above question. Some of their replies were:
- Lack of sharing information regarding public meetings.
- Most time and cash is wasted on household chores and budgeting.
- Lack of skilled leadership.
- Negative attitude towards other women who are striving to get at the top.
- Inadequate ability to participate.
- Poverty, including lack of thinking abroad and lack of jobs.
- A lot of responsibilities at home.
- Inadequate knowledge of their Constitutional Rights.
- Lack of independent mind.
- Lack of basic information on politics
- Limited financial resources.
- Lack of mentorship policies.
- Diverse priorities and politics is not one of them.
The budget cycle was facilitated by Elina Omwoha who took the members through the procedure of budget making in Kenya. She explained that the procedure for the subsequent year budget starts immediately after the budget has been read on June. The budget cycle starts on August, where the fiscal strategy paper is passed by the 30th August. From 1st September to 28th February, the Ministries make the collection of priorities and make the estimates regarding the needs of the citizens. In March 30th, and April the estimates that have been produced by the Ministries are then tabled in the County assembly whereby it is then taken to the citizens for approval. From April to early May, here the second round of negotiation process of the budget and if the agreement cannot be reached, the Ministry of Finance reports the details to the economic committee of cabinet for further review. The Ministry of finance then completes the consolidated budget plan and submits it to the Minister, who in turn presents it to the cabinet. By June, the Minister of finance presents the finalized budget to the National Assembly for their review and approval.
The social audit part was presented by Edna Wanjiku who also involved the trainees in the discussion; she started by defining what social audit means: it is the monitoring of the usage of fund and it helps in reducing likelihood of misallocation and corruption. Social Audit is made by a social auditor who is best drawn from the members of the committee.
She asked the participants to identify some of the social audit improvements within the area and they included; roads, bridge, schools, doctor’s houses, road electricity and idle field has been improved and secured and now used as a market. Social Audit was has the role of preventing abuse of money, corruption and to ensure transparency
Going back to the community
This section was conducted by Stephen Kaka who asked a number of questions randomly to the women/participants. He asked what they have learned from the training and how they are going to impose them, the responses included:
- They have known and understood their rights
- They will share whatever they have learned with other women.
- To form groups for them to get funds to develop themselves, including forming themselves in groups such as uwezo, women empowerment and youth empowerment groups.
- Others requested for another training to be conducted soon and include persons with disability
Other suggestions/issues that the women raised included;
How to get fund for the elderly and what criteria do they use?
One woman needed to know what procedure she could follow to reclaiming her vegetables that have been eaten by the animals of the neighbour.
Cow dung to be used for making bio gas and charcoal (youths to form groups and do the work). Additionally, they should also use animal horns to make ornaments and other jewelries such as earrings.