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Call for gender responsive budgeting

The trinidad Guardian / Former Minister of Public Administration, Carolyn Seepersad Bachan made a call for Gender Responsive Budgeting at a pre-budget forum held by the Institute of Gender Affairs (IGDS), UWI.

Noting the potential for measures and initiatives deployed to address the economic crisis to unfairly pass the burden of care to the most vulnerable households, it is important that expenditure for social development programmes reaches the “Most in Need” and facilitates empowerment towards decreasing dependency on the state. In this regard, there must be improved mechanisms to increase the impact of desired outcomes and more effective design of entrepreneurial programmes that will lead to the graduation off social programmes in the shortest possible time frame.

Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) is not about whether an equal amount is spent on women and men, but more about the different ways women, men, girls and boys access social delivery services and contribute to the society and economy. GRB is part of the budgeting process in many countries and has been used as part of the performance based budgeting and Institutional Reform Programmes.

At the forum, Ms. Seepersad Bachan presented the findings of an analysis conducted by IGDS on expenditure for fiscal years 2015-2017 for the network of social services and subventions to partner organizations including established Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). However, by Government not providing the data disaggregated by sex, the analysis could not provide an understanding of how gender differences influenced forms of vulnerability and the likelihood of moving out of vulnerable situations; shaped abilities to access services and impacted on the conversion of project opportunities into advancement.

For example, given the longer life expectancy of women, the majority of the 90,800 pensioners are elderly women. Post-60 lived realities require most of these women to assume significant care giving roles. However, the gender blindness of the Senior Citizens Pension Scheme does not facilitate an analysis of the extent of this pension to accommodate caring for younger family members and the possible negative impact on their ability to access the necessary health care. Similarly, for the emerging and increasingly vulnerable group of older men who never formed cohesive family units, to what extent has this pension accommodated ongoing support typically sourced within family units?

On the contrary, the Gendered assessment of the Adult Education programmes for the out of school population revealed that in comparison to men (698), three times as many women (2,096) were desirous of self improvement. However, further disaggregation of data into men, women, boys and girls accessing the different types of tuition for CXC exams, NEC courses, Primary School Leaving Certificate and Literacy is required to gain insights into male and female dropouts and whether similarly positioned men are less likely to access assistance. This would also facilitate further analysis of issues pertaining to boys’ ability to complete education including lack of proper guidance, their ability to cope with curriculum or the need for supplementing families’ income, in addition to the impact of teenaged pregnancy and care responsibilities at home on girls’ access to such programmes.

GRB will also provide an understanding of the impact of the interchanging roles of men and women on social delivery programmes as in the case of the emergence of single father homes.

To strategically address the needs of the most vulnerable there must be the development of more accurate poverty profiles in order to facilitate the better targeting of poverty reduction intervention.

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