ISLAMABAD: In close cooperation with the Women Parlimentarian Caucus (WPC), FES has developed a Strategy Paper on Gender Responsive Budgeting.
Niels Hegewisch, Country Director of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Pakistan said that,“there is no Social Justice without Gender Justice”. He further said that,“One of our main priorities here in Pakistan is strengthening gender equality and empowering women. We are proud for the contribution toward more gender equality we have presented today”..
After FES organized a successful Gender Budgeting Workshop in November 2022 with WPC, experts Marion Böker from Berlin and Elisabeth Klatzer from Vienna have returned to Islamabad to continue the valued cooperation. In the Islamabad, they presented their Strategy Paper to a wide range of parliamentarians, journalists, and members of political and civil society.
Dr. Shahida Rehmani, Secretary of the WPC, in her opening remarks said that: “To better understand public spending, we need to apply a gender perspective. Involving women in the budgeting process, ensures their perspectives and needs are taken into account when designing policies and programs.”
FES is a German political foundation that works to promote democracy, social justice, and international cooperation. In Pakistan, FES has been active since the 1980s and focuses on promoting democratic governance, gender equality, and economic and social development.
But what exactly is Gender Budgeting?
According to Böker, author of the strategy paper, it means “to apply the gender perspective to the budget and to realize equality of all genders, women, men and transgender.” Administrative budgets, such as the one developed by Parliament, allocate money to various entities, but not all benefits are distributed equally, and not everyone is affected in the same way if funds are used differently. For example, cuts to healthcare budgets can disproportionately affect women, as care work is typically done by women.
Dr. Elisabeth Klatzer has identified areas where Pakistan needs to take a more gender-inclusive approach to budgeting. One potential area for achieving greater gender equality is through the agriculture sector. New investments in farming can create opportunities to improve working conditions and pay for women, who are often employed in agriculture under poor conditions and low pay.
Syed Murtaza Mahmud, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Division added that, “I am thankful for this work, as strategies to enhance the position of women – in civil society as well as the workplace – is of utmost importance.”
Speaker of the National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said “Empowered women make impowered nations. Without strong women, democracy cannot work. I thank FES and the WPC for their valuable work and standing up for equality in the federal budget.”
The international consultants were amazed by the strong initiative of the WPC. After the event Elisabeth Klatze giving remarks said that “We are happy to have worked with such a creative, ambitious group, who is willing to take real action toward gender equality”.