By ALPHA NUHU
On June 14, Tanzanians from all walks of life – particularly women and the marginalized sections of the society — paid great attention to the government’s 2018/19 budget speech as it was being presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Dr Philip Mpango.
People were eager to hear whether the 32.5 trn/- budget reflected the fiscal policies and administrative procedures structured to address gender inequality in a society in which some people live in luxury while others languish in grinding poverty.
Women and men were drawn to analyse the subject of gender budgeting whose major purpose isto promote accountability and transparency in fiscal planning; to increase gender responsive participation in the budget process, by undertaking steps to involve women and men equally in budget preparation and to advance gender equality and women’s rights.
And truly, the budget lived up to their expectations and aspirations – reflecting what government intends to do to uplift the status of women and vulnerable groups in the society.
In recent years, effective implementation of gender budgeting in the country has seen political commitment matched with a technical capacity for gender mainstreaming.
In this case, engaged leadership is of particular importance to ensure that gender equality is integrated into the planning and budgeting processes and that public budget revenues and expenditures benefit women and men equally.
In order to put in place an effective implementation of gender budgeting, some common elements should be present. These are analysis of budgets and policies from a gender perspective; linking gender budgeting to overall gender equality objectives; restructuring budgets and amending policies and integrating gender perspectives throughout the budget cycle, among others.
In Tanzania, the Gender Budgeting (GB) or Gender Responsive Budget (GRB) initiative was initiated by the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) in 1997 with the purpose of mainstreaming gender in the national budget.
Established in 1993, TGNP has for the past two decades focused on the practical promotion and application of gender equality and equity objectives through policy advocacy and mainstreaming. It focuses on macroeconomic policies and planning with a focus on budget processes to address gender equality as well as women’s empowerment through training, information, lobbying, and network building.
Since then, the GB initiative has gained ground in the country in despite challenges here and there. Now, the Fifth Phase Government is pushing to transform the economy to make the country attain a middle income status by 2025.
The government’s push for economic transformation is to ensure that the majority women constituting more than 50 percent of the country’s population and the poorest sections of the society are helped to fight the scourge of creeping poverty.
From the late 1990s, gender budgeting is increasingly used in by different actors (ministries of finance, line ministries, NGOs, gender advocates and universities) to assess impact of government expenditures on citizens, women and men, and to transform budget programmes to target priority needs and close gender gaps.
Under the President’s Office, women, the elderly and children and other marginalized groups of the society are covered to enjoy the fruits of their country’s independence.
Recurrent grant funds are now being allocated to pro-poor sectors of education, water, health, roads and agriculture to try to bring all Tanzanians into the mainstream development process of the country.
Since an important part of gender budgeting is analysing the impact of budgets on women and men, it is also considered to be an important part of monitoring how the budget is working towards meeting gender equality goals in the country.
Researchers and gender advocates spearheaded by NGOs such as TGNP Mtandao consider gender budgeting to be a mechanism for establishing whether the government’s gender equality commitments translate into budgetary commitments.
Applying gender budgeting therefore makesthe government accountable for its gender policy commitments. The civil society and the media, too, have played a critical role in monitoring and holding the government accountable for its budget.
In recent years, we have seen increased participation in the budget process achieved by establishing a practice of public consultation and participation in budget preparation, or of public participation in monitoring the budget.
Slowly and slowly, gender budgeting is becoming a condition for sustainable and inclusive growth in Tanzania achieving gender equality through tremendous socio-economic benefits. Several studies have shown that reducing gender inequality hasmany positive effects and leads to higher growth rates, healthier children, improved labour productivity and a more responsive government.
Gender responsive budgets, and related policies, will contribute towards achieving gender equality and will simultaneously improve the population’s welfare and lead to more sustainable and inclusive growth and employment.
Studies confirm that between 6.3 million and 10.5 million additional jobs in 2050 will be created through improvements in gender equality by addressing gender segregation in educational choices and increasing the participation of women
Todate the impact of government budgets on the most disadvantaged groups of women is a focus of special attention in Tanzania’s policies to achieve inclusive economic growth in a country witnessing a huge population boom.
Right from the day Tanzania Mainland attained its independence from Britain in December 1961, the Father of the Nation,Mwalimu Julius Nyerere preached love to all human beings and wanted them to be treated equally and without any discrimination. He was particularly guided by the need to give priority to the community against the individual. For him, the rights of the majority – the community and their rights were his priority and not the individual.