Leah Emily Minoza, executive director of the Davao City-based Women’s Studies and Resource Center (WSRC) said Gender and Development (GAD) budget, which is supposed to be five percent of a local government unit’s allocation is even hardly implemented. Worse, it is mostly being used for purposes other than for gender programs.
By DANILDA L. FUSILERO
KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato – Local government units (LGUs) are supposed to spend five percent of their budget for Gender and Development (GAD) but in a recent workshop conducted by the Social Watch-Philippines’ Gender Sensitive Budgeting in Magpet and Tulunan towns it was found out that the allocation has mostly been used for purposes other than for gender programs.
Leah Emily Minoza, executive director of the Davao City-based Women’s Studies and Resource Center (WSRC), told Davao Today that results of gender audits and assessments showed that such incidence of budget misappropriations hinder gender mainstreaming.
Gender mainstreaming refers to the globally accepted strategy set forth by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to ensure the goal of promoting gender equality, or the work of fulfilling women’s human rights to enable them to equally contribute and benefit from development.
One way of ensuring this is through mandating LGUs to set apart, at least five percent of their regular budget for the year, for gender development programs, or the so-called Gender and Development (GAD) budget.
WSRC’s Minoza said GAD is one of the success indicators for gender mainstreaming but regrets that it is still not fully, if not properly implemented by LGUs.
In fact, she said other LGUs and agencies are using GAD allocations for other purposes such as infrastructure, supplies and even salaries and honoraria for Barangay (village) Health Workers or BHWs.
GAD budgets, especially in the barangay level were also found out to be diverted to augment operational budget of the barangay LGUs or tapped to fund the services of volunteers.
“The GAD budget should be intended to improve the social relations among male and female and elevate the participation of women in the decision-making processes,” Minoza said.
One factor, she added, could also be “male office head’s low appreciation of gender mainstreaming.”
Often, this and the lack of a “vigorous women political movement” as well, Minoza said, hinder the implementation of gender mainstreaming programs in government agencies and institutions across the country.
This sentiment is echoed by Ruby Padilla-Sison of the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) in North Cotabato.
“It is a must for the local executives and legislatives to appreciate first gender situation and relations before they can efficiently implement a genuine gender mainstreaming program,” she said.
Sison also urged LGUs and government agencies to draw a workable strategy on how to efficiently implement and manage the GAD budget.
Sison cited cases where the construction of waiting sheds and honoraria for female volunteers was charged to the GAD allocation.
Sison said that the GAD budget should be used in programs that will increase the capacities of women and improve or advance fair relationships among sexes in communities, offices and workplaces. “This is our initial gain in claiming our rights, we should not allow them to divert this to other purposes,” she said.
Lope Barbadillo, provincial officer of the Social Watch-Philippines’ Gender-Sensitive Budgeting project said, this problem poses a challenge to the women sector to be more involved in keeping watch how their respective LGUs implemented their GAD budgets. (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)Gender Issues