‘Budget emphasises on gender equality’

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, July 24:

Dr Shanker Sharma, vice-chairman of National Planning Commission (NPC) has said the budget has emphasised on broad-based growth through promotion of gender equality and social inclusion. “The budget has incorporated a term ‘gender responsive budget’ giving special emphasis on the issues of women, children and socially excluded communities,” he said, addressing an interaction on analysing budget 2005-06 through gender perspective, organised by South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Nepal chapter, in the capital today. Although it is not possible to address all the problems being faced by women, children and other disadvantaged groups immediately, prioritisation of programmes based on medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) will surely benefit these groups at large, he said. “The budgetary allocations will increase every year under gender responsive budget programmes,” Dr Sharma said, adding that increased allocation for education and health is also in response to promote gender equality and enhance access of women to the fundamental needs. Citing preliminary findings of millennium development goals (MDGs) report, he informed that Nepal is on track of achieving target of gender equality by 2015. The government has allocated Rs 395.3 million budget for the programmes for women, children and social welfare, which is 24.50 per cent increment, in comparison to the revised estimate of last fiscal year.

Rajendra K Khetan, vice-president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) presented a working paper analysing the budget in terms of social inclusion and women empowerment. “Taking a gender responsive budget initiative and the government’s commitment towards the promotion of gender equality is a positive note. But the budget do not specify a special package to realise the programmes,” he said. Despite a number of initiatives taken for mainstreaming Dalits, Janajatis, suppressed groups and women in the past, achievements have always been unsatisfactory. This has not only propelled social discrimination and widened gap but also fuelled the ongoing conflict in the country, he added.

Khetan also suggested using techno-financial instruments to support and uplift socially backward groups and women, which will promote gender equality as well as ensure social inclusion. “There should be a proportionate representation of women and other disadvantaged

groups at the law making to implementation levels,” he added. He pointed out the need of structural changes with a sense of equitable at first and then equality in resources and benefits to all section of the society. “The government’s documents should clearly spell out pro-women and pro-poor policies, while encouraging their participation at every level developments.”

Commenting on the paper, Dr Chandra Bhadra said that reservation for women in certain category is a must for women empowerment and to ensure positive discrimination. “The budgetary programmes should clearly spell out such initiatives.” Bidhya Bhandari, president of All Nepal Women’s Association, however, argued that the implementation of budget is not possible when there is no people’s representation from top to bottom of executive bodies.