In collaboration with women’s groups in Arabeh and representatives from the Adva Center for Information on Equality and Social Justice in Israel, Kayan-Feminist Organization hosted representatives from the Ministry of Finance in Berlin and the Initiative for a Gender Sensitive Budget in Berlin in Arabeh on March 12.
The meeting was part of Kayan’s Gender Equality in Local Budgets program, which aims to provide women with tools to advocate gender sensitivity in the budgets of Arab local authorities and to increase women’s participation in local decision-making over how public funds are distributed. Kayan began this program two years ago and since its inception, women in the field have maintained a high degree of involvement. This meeting was an opportunity for grassroots activists to learn from the experiences of civil society abroad and to share their own insights with the German delegation.
At the start of the meeting, Ola Shtewi and Adella Biadi from Kayan’s Department of Community Work explained Kayan’s role in empowering women to participate in decision-making in the public and private sectors, and described Kayan’s cooperation with the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities. Bushra Awad of the Atiaf women’s group reviewed the achievements of the Gender Equality in Local Budgets project in Arabeh, highlighting its success in getting the local council to allocate funding specifically for women’s activities. Awad also described the challenges faced by the group in promoting gender-sensitive budgets, particularly the lack of awareness of gender discrimination in budgeting among members of the local council. She called on Omar Nassar, head of the local council in Arabeh, to establish a workshop for department managers and staff that addresses these issues. Nassar, who was present at the meeting, gave a presentation describing the process of cooperation and partnership between the women’s group, the local council, and Kayan, and stressed that such change comprises a long process that would require continuous effort and patience.
Representatives from the German delegation expressed admiration for the achievements of Kayan and the Arabeh women’s group, and described their experiences advocating gender-sensitive budgets. Torsten Bohust, from the Ministry of Finance in Berlin, stressed the importance of collecting statistical information as a basis for analyzing equitable budget distributions and offered examples of the process of gender analysis in budgeting for health and education in Berlin. Marion Boecker, a delegate from the Initiative for a Gender-Sensitive Budget in Berlin, explained these activities from a civil society perspective, describing the methods pursued by her association to influence decision-makers to create gender-sensitive budgets. Boecker called on activists in the women’s groups to use these lessons and to stay in touch with her association with any questions or advice.