Parliament task women leaders to define gender budgeting

Parliament on Tuesday tasked African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to set-out components of Gender Budgeting as means of shaping government fiscal policy directives.

Mr James Avedzi, Chairman of the Parliamentary select Committee on Finance, noted that the concept of Gender Budgeting is ambiguous.

He asked whether it is an infrastructure to facilitate women empowerment, access to health facilities, market and sources of potable water, “or mainstream gender sensitive policies, financial empowerment, and direct governmental interventions…”

Mr Avedzi was speaking during an interactive working meeting between the select Committee on Finance; Parliamentary select Committee on Health and AWLN, which is exploring the possibilities of mainstreaming Gender Budgeting into government’s fiscal policy for 2012.

The meeting also seeks to empower the parliamentary sub-committees on health, finance and gender as well as the women’s caucus in Parliament to engage with Government to honour commitments made to allocate specific budget lines in the national budget for family planning commodities and services.

Mr Avedzi asked the gender advocates to intensify public education and sensitisation on reproductive and maternal health on a holistic format dubbed: “Communication on reproductive health is a major problem.”

Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee expressed reservation about the focus of the AWLN leadership as government’s fiscal policy for 2012 is almost through to the final stage, making it difficult for an outsider to influence.

Dr Akoto a former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning urged African Women Leaders Network to organise gender budgeting educational workshop to update the technical knowledge of parliamentarians on the subject.

He called on the network to broaden the scope of members to include gender sensitive men, explaining that “the narrow definition of gender as feminist is a misconception as there are more gender sensitive men advocates whose input would enhance the network’s campaign”.

AWLN seeks to empower the parliamentarians on the paradigm shift, which is family planning , which is gradually moving from a public health issue to a developmental one in Ghana with compelling evidence that investing in the field  in addition to improving women’s reproductive health, would yield many benefits.

The network seeks to use existing avenues for meeting the need for family planning services and supplies, the role of family planning as a developmental tool to achieve in the short term a reduction in maternal and child mortality and in the long term realising the Millennium Development Goals.

AWLN is therefore undertaking policy engagement to be implemented from September 2011 to August 2012 and national collaboration on increasing Access to Family Planning.

AWLN will collaborate with the Ghana Health Service and NGO partners to organise Family Planning Week and set the stage for broader public engagement in advocacy.

AWLN’s overarching goal is to see that all development interventions on sexual and reproductive health, at the national, regional and international levels prioritise family planning as a way of safeguarding women’s health and contributing to their personal empowerment in Africa and are influenced by the collective power of African Women’s voices.

Source: GNA

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