Women MPs cross party lines in Kenya to provide gender responsive budgeting
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association is an all-party caucus of women members of Kenya’s National Assembly. The association is changing the way Kenya’s legislature conducts its budget analysis. Their goal is to improve the socio-economic conditions and address the root causes of poverty among women and children, whose daily lives are disproportionally affected by low incomes and poor living conditions.
Kenya’s 2010 Constitution calls for the promotion of an equitable society and requires that government expenditures reflect this principle. Previous budgets in Kenya have not considered the impact of taxation and spending on both men and women and how policies can either increase or exacerbate inequality. Instead, past budgets have tended to marginalize women and children through token allocations.
With a grant provided by the USAID-funded Parliamentary Support Program, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association has developed Gender Responsive Budgeting Guidelines to address these deficits. The Guidelines assist Members of Parliament to analyze the potential impact of national budget allocations in ways that affect men and women’s quality of life. The women members worked with other members of Parliament and the Parliamentary Budget Office to apply Gender Responsive Budgeting guidelines to Kenya’s 2012/13 annual budget policy statement. They secured support for the consideration of gender provisions in upcoming budget debates.
Gender Responsive Budgeting analysis identified the need to fund cancer screenings to prevent diseases severely affecting women’s health. As a result, an additional $3.5 million was allocated to the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation to procure cancer screening equipment.
Other recommendations included requiring that the legislature develop gender disaggregated data for all government programs, create specific budget lines on gender programming in every Ministry, and integrate gender gap analysis in Parliamentary Budget Office procedures and reports.
Cecily Mutitu Mbarire is a Member of Parliament representing the Runyenjes Constituency in Kenya’s Eastern Province. She is also a member of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association. She says, “The training we received from USAID was very empowering in terms of buildingour capacity to implement the new Constitution. As a member of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, I appreciate the technical support I receive to look at things through a gender lens, to meet with stakeholders and to work better with our male counterparts.”
Kenya’s new Constitution endows Parliament with strong budget making powers. The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association’s efforts are helping to ensure that Parliament has the instruments it needs to allocate budget resources in accordance with the new Constitution’s vision for gender equity. The Gender Responsive Budgeting Guidelines are just one of four mechanisms for external oversight of public resource use that has been supported with U.S. Government assistance.