Experts and stakeholders have called for enforcement of policies on gender issues, which should be implemented across all tiers of government in the country.
Governments were also urged to establish efficiency units to monitor budget implementation; while Gender Responsive Budgeting should be legislated as an act of parliament and mainstreamed in all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria.
These calls formed part of the recommendations contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a training of Local Government Stakeholders on Gender Budgeting held recently at Um-Neak Hotels, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The training was geared towards mobilisation of citizens at the grassroots, particularly, women for effective and responsive delivery of fiscal attributes that enhances the empowerment of women through (participatory) gender responsive budgeting, fiscal equity and economic justice for vulnerable sections of society, among others.
The workshop, which was organised by the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group with support from Oxfam in Nigeria, drew participants from different Local Government Areas and MDAs from the following States, Enugu, Lagos, Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom State.
The communiqué was jointly signed by: Agatha Okike from Enugu State; Uduak Brown from Akwa Ibom State; James Osain – Bayelsa State; Nwoke Cordelia Nneh – Rivers State; Bakporhe Ogheneovo – Delta State; Adetola Adefunke – Lagos State; Celestine Okwudili Odo – Oxfam in Nigeria, and Dr. George-Hill Anthony – Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group.
Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke was in attendance and declared the workshop opened after a keynote speech, which encapsulated some aspect of Akwa Ibom State Government’s efforts towards gender responsiveness through the State’s fiscal governance and budgetary architecture, which the State Legislature under his leadership plays a critical role.
He assured the participants that Akwa Ibom State Legislature was open to suggestions and contribution from individuals, Civil Society Organisations and development partners geared at stimulating the development in the Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria, in general. He commended the organisers of the workshop for considering Akwa Ibom State as host of the event.
During the training, six papers were presented on various topics with practical group work on development of (gender responsive) action plans for the grassroots. The papers included the following: ‘Strategic Leadership and Influencing through Oxfam’s 5 Pathways of Change: Perspectives on Strategic Partnership and Financing for Development’; and ‘Mainstreaming the SDGs into the Local Government System: Approaches for Effective Delivery at the Grassroots’.
Others included ‘Development Opportunities for the Local Governments through Effective Engagement at the Grassroots: Using the FADAMA Project as a Case Study’; ‘Gender Roles within the Perspectives of Fiscal Justice’; ‘The Context and Challenges for Gender Equity in Nigeria’s Fiscal Architecture: Way Forward for LGAs in Nigeria’, and ‘Monitoring, Tracking and Evaluation of Gender Responsive Envelopes in the Budget: Approach and Method’.
Among the recommendations at the forum, stakeholders urged that: Government budget at all levels should be made to be people centred from the formulation to implementation stage; the Local Government should be recognised among actors expected to play a key role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals programmes; while some successes of the FADAMA project should be replicated in the Local Governments Areas for the enhancement of development blueprints at the grassroots.
According to the participants, societal roles assigned on gender, should be opened and not limited to the traditional responsibilities among men and women; fiscal policy should be formulated to promote gender equality and discourage gender biases; proper monitoring, tracking and evaluation of government programmes and projects, as it affects, Gender Responsive Budgeting should be put in place; while public mobilisation/ awareness on gender responsive budgeting should kick-start from the grassroots.
To them, there is need to create an effective monitoring, tracking and evaluation mechanism to ensure proper flow and usage of funds and grants meant for Gender Responsive Programmes (GRP); and there is need to encourage projects and programmes that will help in bridging the gaps between rural and the urban dwellers.
“There should be enforcement of policies on gender issues and should be implemented across all tiers of government. Government should establish efficiency unit to monitor budget implementation; and Gender Responsive Budgeting should be legislated as an act of parliament and should be mainstreamed in all MDAs”, the forum advised.
NDEBUMOG and Oxfam further expressed willingness to partner relevant government MDAs in the planning and implementation of a Gender Responsive Budgeting tools and templates. Participants also commended the sponsors and organisers for this impactful training, being; the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group with support from Oxfam in Nigeria and called for more of the trainings in future.