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Today, ENGENDER Consultancy (ENGENDER) and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) held the “Gender Lens on Budget 2021” roundtable event, supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
The roundtable featured six experts addressing different aspects of gender responsive budgeting. Janet Veitch, Chair of the UK Women’s Budget Group, and SUHAKAM Commissioner Dato Dr. Madeline Burma, addressed the more overarching aspects of gender responsive budgeting, including the need for every government leader to be a gender sensitive leader.
YB Teo Nie Ching, former Deputy Minister of Education, talked about the need to incorporate a gender perspective in education, as well as the need for women to play a bigger role in government, particularly in Parliament, to ensure that their perspectives and priorities are vocalised and accounted for.
Dr. Sharifah Syahirah, Senior Lecturer at KUPTM, discussed women’s political empowerment, while Dr. Sivananthi Thaneniran, Executive Director of ARROW, zoomed in on women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, citing the need for taking a rights-based approach to these issues in the national budget. Yap Lay Sheng, Senior Research and Advocacy Officer from WAO, talked about violence against women and the necessary measures the national budget must take to combat it, also highlighting gender equality as a cross-cutting social, political, and economic concern.
“Today’s roundtable event is part of the inaugural cycle of coordinated civil society advocacy, monitoring, and analysis of the national budget,” said Omna Sreeni-Ong, Founder and Managing Director of ENGENDER. “ENGENDER and WAO view this as just the beginning of a larger campaign to build capacity around gender responsive budgeting and promote greater public awareness and participation in the budget process.”
The ongoing civil society advocacy, monitoring, and analysis around the national budget will be coordinated by ENGENDER and WAO as part of the project, “Engendering The National Budget: Empowering Civil Society Advocacy in Gender Responsive Budgeting in 2021.”
“Participation in the national budget process should be viewed not only as a right of citizens, but as a critical part of our civic duty,” said Sumitra Visvanathan, Executive Director of WAO. “Too often the budget process is viewed as something far removed that only policymakers should deal with, but the national budget is a reflection of our priorities as a country and of our fulfillment of political and social obligations.”
ENGENDER and WAO’s advocacy around the budget includes articulating the need for specific budget allocations that take into account the varied benefits on and impacts to men, women, boys, and girls.
During the recent Parliamentary debate on Budget 2021, an allocation of RM 21 million was made for domestic violence ‘local social support centres,’ as well as the MySTEP allocation for short term social workers and medical officers.
“The budget allocation made for domestic violence shelters is an example of how the government can respond to the needs and realities of women on the ground in Malaysia, and ensure that adequate resources are being allocated,” said Lay Sheng of WAO. “These allocations must be made across the board, from healthcare, to education, to the care sector, and their impact analysed to ensure that our national budget is meeting the needs of all communities and individuals.”
About Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Since 1982, Women’s Aid Organisation has provided free shelter, counselling, and crisis support to women and children who experience abuse. We help women and their children rebuild their lives, after surviving domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and other atrocities. Learning from women’s experiences, we advocate to improve public policies and shift public mindsets. Together, we change lives.
Call the WAO Hotline at 03 7956 3488 or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058 if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse. For more information, visit wao.org.my.
About ENGENDER Consultancy
ENGENDER is a social enterprise focussed on advancing the empowerment of women and gender equality, with core services in the areas of gender analysis, strategic advocacy planning, and monitoring and evaluation. We collaborate with communities, private sector, civil society organisations and government to draw on our collective learning and experience, and co-create strategic solutions to bring about transformative, sustainable impact to the lived realities of women and men, girls and boys. For more information, visit www.engenderconsultancy.org.
For more information, please contact:
Natasha Dandavati, Head of Campaigns
Rusni Tajari, Senior Advocacy Officer