Gender-responsive budget needed – WAO

13 Oct 2023 08:56pm
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF

SHAH ALAM - Gender-responsive budget is needed as it is crucial to look for men, women, boys and girls and not just look at blanket sectors, urges Gender Budget Group.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) director Abinaya Mohan said Gender Budget Group which is part of the organisation, welcomed the RM720 million allocation for women in three specific areas for business and entrepreneurship tabled in the Budget 2024.

She said tax incentives to re-enter the workforce were good allocations but these were extensions from Budget 2023.

“There needs to be improved reporting on the success of past allocations so that we may be able to assess the efficacy of such allocations.

“We must work towards a gender-responsive budget that looks at the needs of men, women, boys and girls - not just at blanket sectors.

“For example, allocations for climate were specific in its target community, this is a good practice and is responsive. It is however not gender-responsive,” she told Sinar Daily when contacted.

Besides, Abinaya added that another example would be the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme as the allocations must have studied the needs of boys and girls, men and women who are accessing TVET.

“The pairing with GLCs and multinationals for TVET absorption could be far improved if it looked at the needs of the programme.

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“ Is there uptake by women to TVET programmes if so - are they given equal opportunity to apply to these training programmes?

“We know that there is a drop in women's participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“How would that then impact TVET’s focus on partnering with engineering and oil companies?” she questioned.

Commenting further, she said gender-disaggregated data is very important to achieving this and making allocations or policies that are long-lasting and impactful as well as improving the labour force participation rate.

“Improving the lives of women and youth and their access to entrepreneurship needs a wider look into barriers they may face.

“This would show that achieving empowerment is not as simple as an allocation, it needs a gender-responsive approach across ministries and programmes to remove barriers to access,” she said.

Besides, she said the tax exemption for child care was an important consideration for women hoping to return to the workforce or for those to stay there.

“However, it overlooks a huge proportion of women who fall outside the formal economic sector as many are from female-headed households where they do not qualify for tax exemptions because they are not taxpayers.

“Then allocations for SMEs and MSMEs should have considered a gender component as it would give a clearer picture of those who run SMEs and their needs including child care,” she said.

She added that the programmes under Baitul Mahabbah within the Home Affairs Ministry (KDN) wouldd require immense monitoring and reporting.

“As these require operational allocations and funding to ensure that there are enough childcare protectors and providers and to make sure that it responds to the needs of the children.

“As it is, we have a severe shortage of social workers, child protection officers and a lack of training for child protection.

“It is imperative that any implementation takes a rights-based approach and prioritises the right of the child,” she said.

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