By  Eze Onyekpere

Lack of Accountability: The development paradigm of gender blind budgeting is not accountable to one half of the population since it moves with the dominant male population who in many instances, may not be the majority of the population. So, in a one person one vote scenario, it may  likely reflect the views of the minority and be accountable to the minority instead of the majority. The ideal is that the budget should be accountable to all. The principle of accountability involves among others ensuring that expenditures are in tandem with the duty to respect, protect and fulfill Nigeria’s human rights obligations including freedom from GBV. Questions like whether state tariffs and tax regimes support policies that obstruct for instance the right to sexual and reproductive health and rights of women or made token provisions for primary health care will be raised.

Questions of accountability for objects of expenditure will be raised- what the state spends on; and of performance and results – whether budget and policy objectives in eradicating GBV were met and the people actually had value for money or whether budget sums are spent in accordance with the Appropriation Act.  If informed questions are asked about the cost of eradicating GBV, they could lead to considerable improvements in the quality of expenditure from resources made available for GBV policy implementation, so that citizens could begin to get full value for their money.

Considering that Nigeria is under a legal obligation to take steps to the maximum of available resources for the progressive realisation of rights (particularly economic, social and cultural), taking cognisance of gender and GBV in budgeting intends to ensure that the state fulfils this obligation or in the alternative: “Demonstrates convincingly that the costs implications of giving full effect to the campaign against GBV will impose undue hardship on its fiscal resources and will prejudice the other legitimate ends it is expected to meet in a democratic society”. Creates Winners and Losers: A gender blind budget creates winners and losers in a scenario that should have been “win-win” for all. This heightens alienation and the likelihood of policy failure since a great part of the population see the policies and programmes, not as their own, but as the policy of others. Laws and policies on GBV which are not reflected in budgets are bound to fail considering the implementation matrix of the policy, plan, budget continuum.

Blocked Options: A gender blind budget proceeds from a blocked options perspective in the sense that it moves like a car with only a half of its engine or it operates as a factory at half of its installed capacity when it needs to operate at full capacity.   Considering   Nigeria’s developmental backwardness, all available capacities need to be used in the operation to guarantee development as against leaving out available options and potent and latent energies. When a budget proceeds by failing to take cognisance of the fundamental rights (freedom from gender based violence) of a section of the society, it blocks the options and forecloses the possibility of their enjoyment of rights or making optimum contributions to society.

Encourages Discrimination: S. 42 of the Constitution clearly prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex in the practical application of any law or government policy. The budget is enacted as a law and if its implementation protects a group or unduly favours a group more than others based on their sex, it will be running contrary to the constitutional prohibition against discrimination. Retards Service Delivery: Governance is about service delivery and the satisfaction of the legitimate needs of as many citizens as possible. To satisfy the majority of citizens must include ensuring that GBV is reduced to a minimum or possibly eradicated.  The experience of Nigerians on services rendered by the state has been far from satisfactory. Gender transformative budget work that guarantees freedom from GBV will provide information about performance and quality of service to service providers and policy makers and introduce a two way communications approach to bridge the gap between what government intends, what is actually delivered and what people perceive. It will increase citizens’ expectations, bring more pressure for positive change to bear on service providers, change the mentality of service providers from the idea of doing people a favour to one of delivering effective services. It will further strengthen the service delivery chain and provide opportunities for redress of wrongs thereby enhancing consumer rights.

A gender transformative budgeting process that takes cognisance of the need to eradicate GBV will: Restore the confidence of women and girls in their government; create a more conducive environment for women and girls to contribute to development; pressure Government to take its obligations under the social contract more seriously and; Strengthen the service delivering chain for positive change.

Onyekpere writes from Lagos

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Source: news