Hon. Sudarshini Fernandopulle as the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Women met with key officials from a number of key sectoral ministries last Friday (16th July) to discuss the progress on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) approaches in the respective ministries and departments. The Deputy Secretary General of the Parliament moderated the meeting as the Gender Focal Point of the Parliament Secretariat. Officials representing the State Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Ministry of Finance, National Committee on Women, Ministry of Education Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning, Department of National Planning, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Samurdhi, Women and Children’s Bureau and National Secretariat on Early Childhood Development were present during the discussion.
After a presentation on general GRB approaches that can be applied to budget planning for the next year by ministries, the floor was open for the different sectors to share specific measures or the lack of it to promote GRB in Sri Lanka. The representatives from the Ministry of Finance highlighted how 12 Key Performance Indicators were introduced in 2017 to be considered by Sectoral Ministries for the 2018 budget with a special directive to focus on GRB. However, the monitoring of the reporting and budgeting processes was not sufficiently conducted to review the impact of this directive that went out with the Budget call. The importance of having sex disaggregated data, the need to address Violence against Women during the current COVID pandemic, and the need to focus on the contribution of women and girls in different economic sectors were also highlighted by different government representatives.
She pledged that the Committee will take on the monitoring of inclusive and gender responsive budget implementation as part of their oversight function.
Listening to these officials, Hon. Chairperson of the Select Committee stated “There seems to be a lot of different activities and approaches taken to enhance gender responsiveness of the national budget. However, they are done in isolation and without much review and evaluation. Therefore, we need a more coordinated approach and constant monitoring of the same.” Provided this lacuna of a monitoring body, Hon. Chairperson stated that the Select Committee can be responsible to work closely with the National Budget Department to regularly coordinate, monitor and evaluate the processes of GRB in the country. She further stated that as the Select Committee works closely with the Ministers, the committee will also follow up the discussions and recommendations that came out of this very important discussion. Hon. Chairperson representing the Select Committee also requested the line ministries to send their disaggregated reach of budget proposals to the Finance Ministry. Overall, this discussion was a great success which will lead into several important way forward measures in the near future.