Gender responsive budget essential tool to empower women: NA Speaker

ISLAMABAD           -          Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that effective budgeting for gender is one of the most effective ways to ensure that women’s needs and rights. He also said that legislators in Pakistan have been working to increase women’s participation in the budgeting process and to ensure that gender considerations are integrated into development planning and implementation. He also stressed on the need to ensure that gender responsive budgeting is integrated into all levels of government and that it is effectively implemented and monitored. He expressed these views while addressing the launching ceremony of “ Gender Responsive Budgeting Report” organised by Women Parliamentary Cacus ( WPC) and FES in Islamabad. The Speaker also appreciated the efforts of Dr Rehmani’s efforts to launch today’s summary paper on Gender Responsive Budgeting in Pakistan. He said that the party he belongs to have been the staunch believer of women emancipation because empowered women make empowered nations. He said that his party has always provided unwavering support to promote meaningful participation of women in politics and always advocated the fact that, without them, no democracy is a true democracy. He urged all participants to support the implementation of gender responsive budgeting in Pakistan. Women’s Parliamentary Caucus has launched the summary paper on “Gender Budgeting in Pakistan”. The purpose of summary paper for Women’s Parliamentary Caucus is to put forward key strategies and methodologies for implementation of Gender Budgeting in Pakistan. This paper will serve as a source of inspiration and guidance for further work, especially for WPC but also for other institutions interested in promoting a coherent approach in Gender Budgeting work including civil society. Dr Shahida Rehmani, in her inaugural remarks, said that WPC has been working dedicatedly to institutionalize the gender budgeting process. This strategy paper is the first step towards the process. She highlighted that to better understand the public spending, we need a gender lens to analysis it. In addition, involving women in the budget-making process can ensure that their perspectives and needs are taken into account that policies and programmes are responsive to their needs. Dr Rehmani also highlighted that in Financial Budget for FY2022-2023, majority of the financial amendments were from Women MPs. Dr Rehmani concluded her speech by reiterating that investing in women and girls is not only a moral and social obligation but mandatory for true empowerment of women. “There is no Social Justice without Gender Justice”, said Niels Hegewisch, Country Director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Pakistan. In close cooperation with the Women’s Parliamentarian Caucus (WPC), FES has developed a Strategy Paper on Gender Responsive Budgeting. After FES organized a successful Gender Budgeting Workshop in November 2022 with WPC, experts Marion Böker from Berlin and Elisabeth Klatzer from Vienna have returned to Islamabad to continue the valued cooperation. In the Marriot Hotel of Islamabad, they presented their Strategy Paper to a wide range of parliamentarians, journalists, and members of political and civil society. Dr. Shahida Rehmani, Secretary of the WPC, highlighted the importance of Gender Budgeting in her opening remarks: “To better understand public spending, we need to apply a gender perspective. Involving women in the budgeting process, ensures their perspectives and needs are taken into account when designing policies and programs.” According to Marion Böker, author of the strategy paper, it means “to apply the gender perspective to the budget and to realize equality of all genders, women, men and transgender.” Administrative budgets, such as the one developed by Parliament, allocate money to various entities, but not all benefits are distributed equally, and not everyone is affected in the same way if funds are used differently. For example, cuts to healthcare budgets can disproportionately affect women, as care work is typically done by women. Dr. Elisabeth Klatzer has identified areas where Pakistan needs to take a more gender-inclusive approach to budgeting. One potential area for achieving greater gender equality is through the agriculture sector. New investments in farming can create opportunities to improve working conditions and pay for women, who are often employed in agriculture under poor conditions and low pay

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