Malawi: Stakeholders Aligning Gender-Responsive Budget Guidelines for Local Councils

Stakeholders, once again, validated the gender-responsive budgeting guidelines for local councils in Malawi in order to, among others, align the guidelines with the MW2063 overarching goal of inclusive wealth creation for everyone.

Executive Director for Malawi Local Government Association (MALGA), Hadrod Zeru Mkandawire, whose association is spearheading the development of the guidelines, said this in Salima during the final validation meeting for the guidelines.

The gender-responsive budgeting guidelines will ensure that local councils implement budgets and interventions that are gender responsive in order to “equally and holistically address all the basic needs of men, women, boys, girls and other segments of the society”.

The final validation of the guidelines, that will be the first of their kind in councils, is happening under the second phase of a multimillion kwacha project which MALGA–an umbrella body of all local governments in Malawi–is implementing with support from UN Women under the Spotlight Initiative, a partnership between UN and European Union.

Stakeholders first validated the guidelines in August last year, paving the way for the Ministry of Finance to trigger a process for their operationalization.

But speaking during the final validation meeting, Mkandawire said stakeholders realized that the process needed not to be rushed through in order not to leave out some people.

“The MW2063 is promoting inclusive wealth creation for everyone and so we need to reflect this in the guidelines. Even the Sustainable Development Goals hinge on leaving no one behind. That all people have to fully develop socially, economically and politically,” said Mkandawire.

He added that the MW 2063, on which district development and urban development plans are modelled, would be affected if the needs and aspirations of some segments of the population are not well defined and funded within the available constrained resources.

“Therefore, the development and validation of the guidelines have come at the right time. We will expedite the processes leading to operationalization of the guidelines as our members–the local government authorities, need these guidelines to move forward,” he said.

Mkandawire further said the final validation of the guidelines was also necessary because more gaps were, after all, identified in the guidelines before they could be operationalized.

“These will be bylaws supporting the Public Finance Management Act and Gender Equality Act. They will stand the test of time. So, we would not rush through the process. Once the gaps are addressed, the next stage will be adoption and operationalization of the guidelines by the Ministry of Finance,” Mkandawire said.

National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) Budget Analyst, Jonathan Banda, concurred with Mkandawire, adding that the guidelines, once eventually operationalized, will improve the delivery of gender related activities in the local councils.

“Programs run by councils have demonstrated over time to be lacking in terms of responsiveness to some groups that are disadvantaged, such as; women, widows, children, youths, girls, boys and persons with disabilities. As NLGFC, which provide budgeting support to councils, we are also looking forward to the operationalization of the guidelines,” Banda said.

The meeting in Salima drew together top representatives from MALGA Secretariat and selected members of the association (local councils), NLGFC and ministries of local government, finance and gender.

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