Warm greetings and a Happy New Year from ZWRCN! Here is an update of our work and accomplishments for the month of December 2015. The year 2015 was busy for ZWRCN and several milestones were accomplished.
Building the Capacity of Murehwa Council Officials to address Gender Equality issues in Council Budgets
In the year 2015, under the Gender, Economic Policies and Public (GEPPF) programme, ZWRCN conducted a series of capacity building initiatives for councillors and council officials. In this regard ZWRCN recently commenced work in Murehwa district in order to continue its gender responsive budgeting work. On the 5th of December ZWRCN held a gender responsive budgeting training for the council officials in Murehwa. This was aimed at equipping the council officials with a good understanding of the rationale for mainstreaming gender in policies and budgets as well as an appreciation of the role of councillors in budget oversight. The training also included the highlighting of an action agenda on critical milestones for 2015.
The training was a success in that, the key results were really positive. These included a commitment, through a range of agreed steps, to ensure gender mainstreaming in the 2016 local budget, identification of critical information and capacity gaps as well as the identification of key issues to strengthen budget oversight.
On the same day, ZWRCN also held its first Gender Budget Action Committee (GBAC) Training in Murehwa district. The meeting was well attended with almost all social groups being well represented. To mention but a few, these included the elderly, PLWHIV, people living with disabilities, the youth, religious groups and children. It is amazing to note that Murehwa has a very vibrant group of people that are willing to work with the council in order to improve service delivery in their community.
The meeting was mainly aimed at training the newly formed GBAC on gender responsive budgeting as well as the role of parliament. The training was conducted in partnership with SAPST. The new GBAC committee is ready to work and contributed significantly during the inception meeting which is a positive sign for ZWRCN.
Kwekwe Communities Mobilised to Undertake Budget Advocacy
ZWRCN has also been working in Kwekwe and on the 2nd of December 2015 a training workshop was conducted for the Kwekwe Gender Budget Action Committee (GBAC). The training was very fruitful as most GBACs professed that it was a real eye opener for them. They indicated that most of them were not aware of some of the roles of parliament. They testified that after the training it was now easy for them to advocate for their issues knowing exactly where to go and how to approach the government officials.
Earlier in the year, the Kwekwe GBAC had identified their key budget advocacy issue for the 2016 district budget. They advocated for access to infrastructure for informal traders. So on this particular meeting they also presented their research findings to the community as far as this issue was concerned. The results will form the basis of their advocacy plan which includes a position paper to be presented to key decision makers.
Civil Society Actors Commit to Advocate for, Track and Monitor a 2016 Gender Sensitive Budget
On the 26th of November 2015, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. P.A. Chinamasa, presented the 2016 Budget to the Parliament, and it was crucial for the civil society organisations to come together and discuss how they could push for women’s issues to be fully addressed in the budget.
In the National Budget Statement for 2016, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. P.A. Chinamasa, stated that, “the 2016 Budget prioritises women empowerment projects and programmes”, and that the thrust of the budget is on carrying forward the various women empowerment projects and programmes in line with the Zim Asset objectives on value addition and poverty eradication. Despite this, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development was allocated $13.713.000, which is a very small increase from the 2015 allocation which stood at $13.352.000 and is less than 1% of the total budget. Therefore, ZWRCN invites gender equality and women rights activists to engage in a discussion on how to move forward in order to get a more gender sensitive budget in future.