Arab Mayors Discuss Gender Mainstreaming in Local Budgets
Kayan-Feminist Organization presents its project, “Gender Equality in Local Budgets” to the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities
At a meeting of the National Committee of the Heads of Local Authorities, held on September 19th 2012, Kayan-Feminist Organization presented its “Gender Equality in Local Budgets” initiative. The invitation is in line with an earlier decision of National Committee’s to extend its cooperation with Kayan and to support the initiative.
Ms. Rafah Anabtawi, Coordinator of the Department of Community Work at Kayan, began the meeting with a presentation of Kayan’s role in supporting and empowering women in the Arab society. Specifically, Kayan seeks to increase their active participation in both the private and public spheres, emphasizing the genuine social change required in order for women to realize their full capacities to contribute to and influence decision-making. Anabtawi touched upon the various activities of the Department of Community Work, highlighting its work with women at the grassroots, which aims to empower women to improve their own lives.
Ms. Ola Shtewi, coordinator of the “Gender Equality in Local Budgets” initiative, introduced the project and noted that it is the first of its kind in the Arab community. The program, she explained, aims to strengthen the leadership of community-based women’s organizations in raising awareness of the importance of a fair division of public resources. Through a critical analysis of local authority budgets, the program works to increase the participation of women in the planning and development of fiscal policy at the local level, such that public budget allocations take into account the particular needs of all members of society. Shtewi spoke about the impact of gender-responsive budget analysis already demonstrated in the participating villages of Yaft An-Nassriye and Arabeh.
Women’s rights activist Bushra Awad of Arabeh reiterated recent project achievements, such as the public allocation to support women’s programming in the village. She highlighted the importance of having the participation of the Arabeh local authority and extended her thanks to Council President Omar Nassar for his continued support of the project.
Regarding the project’s impact on the women, Awad had earlier noted, “Women in the early stages of empowerment lack many of the resources vital to any activist. We lack knowledge of our rights and abilities, and the extent to which we can be independent. We also suffered lack of services and programs that respond to our needs.. Through a needs survey conducted at a later stage, we connected with the women of Arabeh and developed a feasible action plan. We then independently planned and managed a budget allocated by the local authority for the promotion of women.”
Following the discussion of the importance of the project, several of the council heads stressed the need for extensive learning concerning gender-responsive budget analysis. Council President Omar Nassar spoke about project activities in Arabeh, saying, “There is an urgent need to take decisive steps to empower women. In Arabeh, we allocated a budget of NIS 100,000 for women’s programming and established a municipal committee to promote the status of women.” Council chairman of Yaft An-Nassriye, Imran Kenaneh, confirmed the importance of this project and the need to raise the status of women. Importantly, he pointed out that the project is not necessarily concerned with specific budget allocations, but rather the need to take women’s needs into account in budgetary planning processes.
President of The National Committee, Mr. Ramiz Jaraisy, emphasized the committee’s principled support of strengthening the status of Arab women and confirmed that the commission would continue to work with the Arab local authorities concerning the appointment of advisors responsible for promoting the status of women at the local level. Jaraisy also called for cooperation with Kayan in the “Gender Equality in Local Budgets” initiative and for the activation of appointees for the promotion of women by the Arab local authorities.