KOZHIKODE: In a decisive step aimed at achieving gender equality, 50 local bodies in the state opted for gender budgeting this year, with 35 of them already presenting their budgets. It’s for the first time that the initiative to maintain a gender perspective at all levels of budgetary process as well as to deal with income and expenditure with an ultimate aim of promoting gender equality has evoked such a positive response from civic bodies.
Though there is no documented model at present for gender budgeting, the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) has been giving support to prepare the budgets by holding awareness sessions and workshops, and assessing gender-related loopholes in conventional budgets and plugging them.
Twelve local bodies had prepared budgets at KILA itself. “This is only a baby step towards presenting a full-fledged gender budget,” said Amrutha K P N, coordinator of gender school for local governance at KILA. She said the importance given to gender in budgeting was confined only to the account side until now. “It never used to reflect in policy or structural levels,” she said.
The budgeting also attempts to lay bare the gender-unfriendly software being used for local governance. “There is a lack of gender-wise data in many segments. For instance, there is no option to know the gender of the property owner who pays the tax. The Sanchaya software has only the name of the owner. KILA will request the Information Kerala Mission which developed the software to make it gender-friendly so as to get gender-wise data,” Amrutha said.
Gender budgeting helped Pathanamthitta district panchayat introduce schemes such as a gender resource centre and a space for exhibiting artistic talents of the transgender community in its budget. “We had decided to streamline the activities of jagratha samitis at block and panchayat levels as per gender budgeting,” said Pathanamthitta district panchayat vice-president Sara Thomas.
Chathamangalam grama panchayat vice-president M Sushama said a series of meetings were held among working groups, grama sabhas, and communities such as transgenders, differently-abled and unmarried mothers to understand their grievances. “When we assessed the existing gender inequality, we found there is a disparity in wages given to women and less representation of them in cultural committees.
Similarly, there are fewer women in ‘Karshika Karmasena’ which is attributed to women’s ‘physical weakness’ to use agricultural equipment. So we included a scheme to provide agricultural equipment training to women. We prepared the gender budget after gauging all such issues,” she said.
THE 50 TAKERS
1 dist panchayat
8 block panchayats
22 grama panchayats
Benefit: Gender budgeting helped Pathanamthitta district panchayat introduce schemes such as a gender resource centre in its budget