Editorial: Bringing GAD to women

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014


HOW many government agencies have set up daycare centers or breastfeeding rooms for their workers? How many ports operate halfway houses to shelter women and children who fall prey to human trafficking? Which among our cities and towns have organized counseling services for abused women?

Each March, both public and private organizations celebrate Women’s Month. Yet various reports suggest that when it comes to spending people’s money, government still has a lot to learn.

All government agencies, including colleges, universities and state corporations, are required to invest five percent of their total budget each year on Gender and Development (GAD) projects. Since 1999, the Department of Interior and Local Government has told local government units (LGUs) to do the same.

Some government offices, however, have used or tried to use this budget for projects that had nothing at all to do with GAD.

The Commission on Audit has had to remind government agencies to stop proposing to use their GAD budgets for such things as a clothing allowance, gas masks for traffic enforcers, cross-stitching contests, social graces seminars, ballroom dancing classes, religious activities, repairs on waiting sheds and flyovers, and construction of community libraries. Normally, we would applaud the use of government funds to build community libraries, but not when these funds were supposed to help solve a gender inequality problem.

Filipinos like to think we live in a society that has succeeded in chipping away at gender inequality. Yet while there is some success—Filipinas now face fewer barriers to education and work than did previous generations—much needs to be done.

Reviewing how well government agencies implemented GAD budgeting from 1995 to 2010, the Senate Economic Planning Office said the performance was “erratic” at best. “Not even once did the GAD allocation reach one percent of the total budget of the National Government,” it reported.

What counts as a GAD project? In 2012, two decades after the Women in Development and Nation-Building Act became a law, government agencies were reminded to use the GAD budget “to address women’s practical and strategic needs.” How well does your LGU or the government agencies you deal with stack up?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 06, 2014.

Opinion

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