Last week, the Professional Women, Women Executives and Business Women’s Forum (PROWEB), hosted a discussion titled ‘Does Gender Matter in the National Budget?’, steered by Tendai Masararura, Tax Director and Taxted Services and Pamela Mhlanga, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN)
One of the guiding questions for the discussions was around whether women knew the impact of the national budget on their businesses.
In her talk, titled “Demystifying money: The National Budget”, spoke about the need for women to understand the national budget’s implication on their financial lives. She also stressed the importance of women making in-roads into conversations around gender-sensitive policies. ZWRCN is invested in the research of trends, documents, events or policies that affect the gaps in financial inclusion of men and women in different spaces. The organisation also advocates for public engagement with directors of finance and gender focal persons in different ministries who can influence decision-making in the ministry.
“I think we need a lot more of a collective effort…so that when we speak, there’s this view that we mean business,” said Mhlanga.
Zimbabwe’s 2015 National Budget was at US$ 4.1 billion, a major shortfall from what our country needs to stabilise activities in terms of development and economy building. Increased demand on taxpayers with, among other proposals, a crackdown on vendors, coupled with poor performance of local industry are factors exacerbating the financial pressure on ordinary citizens and local enterprises. And with resources continually depreciating, it is women who are most affected.
At the same time, they are the sector of society least likely to have substantive knowledge about budgetary processes, and how these influence policy.
“The issue around women is lack of information,” said Sithabile Mangwengwende, PROWEB Founding Trustee. “So we need to make information readily available.”
Just 0.4% of this year’s budget has been allocated to the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, down 0.6% from last year’s figure. The biggest budgetary allocations have made to agriculture and mining, with about US$190 million going towards the President’s Office and US $89 million reserved for the intelligence unit, the CIO.