KUALA LUMPUR: Four years ago when then deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the government would move towards a gender-sensitive budget, there was an air of expectancy.
The pledge, however, did not materialise.
Budget 2010 was announced and with it came the moans and groans of disappointment, which have steadily gained momentum, said MP Fuziah Salleh.
Representing the Gender Budget Research and Advocation Group, Fuziah raised the issue of speeding up a gender responsive budget (GRB) under the national budget and Malaysia Plan.
The Kuantan MP urged the Finance Ministry to expedite the process of implementing GRB in a substantive way when preparing the Budget 2011 under the 10th Malaysia Plan.
“We are seeking to increase awareness, appreciation and capability of the ‘Gender Focal Point’ and ‘Budget Review’ among officers who are entrusted with implementing the GRB.”
Fuziah was speaking to reporters when forwarding the group’s memorandum to Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Husin in Parliament yesterday.
“Secondly, we also want to ensure that ‘gender-segregated data’ is used as the basis for analysis and decision-making,” she said.
Fuziah added that the group was also asking the ministry to immediately set aside allocations for the two proposals.
“The group also wants the ministry to ensure there are sufficient allocations in future national budgets until the GRB is successfully implemented in all ministries,” she said.
Ministry to set up focus group
GRB budget involves preparatory processes, implementation, monitoring and ongoing rectification.
Responding to the memorandum, Awang said the ministry will set up a focus group to speed up gender responsive projects under Budget 2011.
He said a gender responsive budget, however, need not necessarily mean additional allocations will be given to women and men separately.
“It would pay more attention to groups that require them, such as the disabled, senior citizens and single mothers,” said Awang.
According to a 1998 Commonwealth Secretariat report on gender budgeting, countries can evaluate gender budgeting in terms of dollars and cents.
Describing gender budgeting as an important feature of a country’s development and value system, it noted: “The budget reflects the values of a country — who it values, whose work it values and who it rewards.”