Gender Responsive Budgeting as Fiscal Innovation that is needed in Kenya

Speech by Dr. Richard Muko Ochanda, Consolation East Africa.

We at Consolation East Africa see Gender responsive budgeting (GRB) is a fiscal innovation. We consider it a “Problem solution concept” that has been transformed into tangible processes, resources and institutional mechanisms to assist providing the benefits of inclusion to marginalized populations. For this purpose we have taken it as an important agenda and promoted it in all the sub-counties of Nairobi. We have also documented the feedback from all the areas we have visited in our blog. The manual developed by NGEC, experiences from TISA and support from International Republican Institute have been quite helpful.

GRB applies “gender lens” to institutional mechanisms, propelling them to bring about desirable impacts and benefits through its processes. It is a socio-economic tool for transparency and accountability that analyzes budgetary policies, identifying their effects on gender development.

It has two inevitable dimensions: equity and efficiency. Efficiency is about optimal allocation. For example, if we were about 2000 people in this meeting, a bigger hall would have been sought. Allocating our meeting of 200 people to a bigger hall that is supposed to handle 2000 people and allocating those people to this hall meant for 200 people is considered an inefficient allocation. Some people would be having more space than they would need while others would be suffocating or have no space at all. Equity on the other hand, refers to making specific allocations for the weak in our midst. The weak include the aged, disabled and people not able to compete for opportunities equally with others. These people have to be enabled to get those opportunities and hence require special allocation.

The position of women in Kenya has always been very weak both historical, social, political and economic. Recognizing this anomaly, the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, sought to create a platform for equality between women and men. Various provisions focused on affirmative action, for instance, Article 27 (8) obliged the state to take legislative and other measures to ensure that no more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies are of the same gender. Additionally, Article 81 applied the same rule in elective Public bodies. The constitution affirmed that everybody is equal before the law through the provision, ‘every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.’ It further stresses that, ‘women and men have the right to equal treatment including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.”

The foregoing provisions in the 2010 Constitution impose various obligations that the state has to comply with. Some of these obligations include;
a) Enabling women and other marginalized groups to freely participate in mainstream society including leadership in politics.

  1. b) Reservation of certain positions for women and other marginalized groups by the government to prevent them from unequal political competition.
  2. c) Budgeting and budget implementation to cater for the needs of both women inter alia other marginalized groups and men fairly
  3. d) The concerns of men and women constitute an integral dimension in the design of policies and laws and administrative procedures

For all these to be achieved, there has to be some deliberate fiscal action in terms of equity based budgeting process. A budget that considers the unique needs of the special populations. A budget such as this, has a distributive and a redistributive dimension. It intends to pull those who are already in the “holes of despair” to the heights of dignity enjoyed by the rest of the societal members.

There has been a misnomer that GRB refers to making separate budgets for women. It is also wrongly interpreted as the earmarking of funds for gender development. On the contrary GRB helps in the analysis of the entire budget process through a gender lens to identify the gender differential impacts and to translate gender commitments into budgetary commitments. It has four specific components: 1. knowledge processes and networking, 2. Institutional mechanisms, 3. learning processes and building capacities, and 4 public accountability and benefit incidence. These four components of GRB will be analyzed in the context of Kenya.

The National Gender and Equality Commission has been the pioneer of gender budgeting in Kenya, and plays a significant role as is exemplified in its GRB guidelines of 2014. These guidelines are available on its website. The other commission that advances this is the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. The presence of these commissions here, shows their commitment in advancing this agenda. The onus remains on us CSOs to continue networking and advancing this agenda far and wide.

When looking at the existing fiscal institutional mechanism, a number of considerations arise. Does investing in public infrastructure prove to have more impact on the poor – especially women – than allocations designed through specifically targeted programs? Does economic growth, per se, translate into better gender – sensitive human development? Has the contribution of women to the economy been properly analyzed and fiscal services been designed to redress the capability deprivation of women in the unpaid care economy? These challenges push us to envisage a fiscal innovation that emphasizes inclusion instead of a status quo bent on exclusivity.

Let us look at 2014/2015 Nairobi county budget done by The Institute of Social Accountability (TISA). The recurrent expenditure was Kshs 18.7 billion, development expenditure was Kshs 9.03 billion, and emergency fund of Kshs 24 million. In doing a GRB analysis, we would use a likert scale to analyse it in a gendered continuum so as to derive the inter-gender weighted benefits in development, recurrent and emergency expenditures relative to men and women.   In analyzing deeper the recurrent expenditure 9.8% went to debt repayment, 0.1% was allocated to emergency fund. Operations and maintenance was allocated 24% while personnel emoluments was 66%. Only a good look at this data will enable us to critique objectively and enable a policy focus that will increase efficiency and equity.

At the national and county levels, various laws have been passed in the recent past promoting positive inter-gender considerations inter alia Sexual Offenses Act 2006, Children Act 2001, Gender Equality Act 2014, Anti Human Trafficking Act 2010, Marriage Act 2014, Protection Against Domestic Violence Act 2015 and County Governments Act 2014. Their proper implementation is a direct function of both efficient and equitable budgetary allocative considerations. At the national levels, the government has allocated schemes of economic empowerment, the onus remains on the counties to ensure that gender considerations are made prime.

Lastly, to end I would like to quote President Obama in his Speech to the Kenyan people. No team can succeed when it weakens half of its squad. On this therefore, all genders need to be treated equally-well so as we may realize the gains of well-balanced progress. Well distributed budgetary allocations will reinforce the gains made in bringing development, progress, unity and peace among the people. Elevation of both genders in Kenya in all spheres including on matters of budgeting is hence a needed fiscal innovation that will strengthen our leadership mandate in the region too.

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