Local Authorities’ Budgets Must Reflect Women’s Concerns
2 October 2020

By Lloyd Mupfudze- Local authorities  have embarked on public consultation meetings ahead of the 2021 budget. The activities are in fulfilment of statutory requirements providing for the need to consult citizens in budget formulation.  Local authorities budget sets priorities for service delivery and development.

I posit that unless the concerns of women and men are considered during the budgetary process, budgets will not be responsive to their concerns. The failure to provide adequate funding for essential services increases the workload for women resulting in their failure to participate in social, economic and political activities.

The budgeting process should therefore seek to address developmental and service delivery issues in a gender sensitive manner.

Councils should carry out a gender analysis of their budgets to ensure that they are gender responsive. Women and men should participate in the budget formulation process. Council technical staff should have competencies to analyses the gender impact of the budget. Capacity building in Gender Responsive budgeting should be provided also by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The key mandate for councils is to provide basic services necessary for everyday life. It is important to note that women are particularly concerned about the quality service delivery.  Service provision affect women because of their socially ascribed roles as mothers, housekeepers and caregivers.

Therefore, Councils should analyse the impact of their services on women and men to ensure that services are provided in a gender responsive manner.

The failure to provide efficient services increases the labour burden on women and limits their ability to participate in other social and economic roles. Local authority systems should ensure fair access to services by women and men in all local authorities.

The failure by councils in their mandate to provide safe and reliable water and to maintain efficient waste water systems increases the burden of labour on women increases as they seek alternative sources of water. Unreliable waste water systems risk the health of family members thereby increasing the burden on women as caregivers. Water provision by the duty bearers should be at an affordable rate.

Erratic collection of refuse forces women as home keepers, to seek alternative ways of disposal. This increases the burden of unpaid work by women and prevents them from participating in other social, political and economic development activities. Citizens should demand for efficient refuse collection system and opportunities for women and men to benefit economically from waste recycling.

One of the most neglected area of concern is that of public lighting. Safety and security are a key concern for both women and men. Evidence shows that women are more vulnerable in situations where security is compromised. Cases of gender-based violence increase in areas where there is no public lighting.

Failure to adequately light public streets and public areas prevents women from moving freely at night. This prevents them from participating in social and political activities which take place after daytime. It is important to promote safety through advocating and lobbying for efficient lighting of public roads, streets and other public areas.

The provision of decent shelter is a basic right for all residents. It is important that housing policies ensure the fair allocation of houses and housing stands to female and male headed households. Housing policies must provide for equal access to housing by women and men. Housing allocations must be made equitably between male and female applicants.

Lack of access to primary healthcare affects women and men differently. Women are care givers in families and therefore have to access health services when family members fall sick.

In addition, women’s reproductive capacity and their vulnerability to diseases such as HIV and AIDs increase their need for health services in general and reproductive health services in particular.

Gender norms and stereotypes dictate that women are the primary caregivers for children. Councils should provide crèches and nursery schools at affordable rates. Failure to provide crèches and nursery schools confines women to the home thereby resulting in women failing to take part in other social activities.

Recreational facilities are critical for the full development of women, men, boys and girls. Recreational facilities provided by councils should include activities which appeal to both women and men strategies.

It is also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic have made us to relook and put much emphasis on issue of Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH)