As part of its interventions to promote the development of women and girls and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, Yiaga Africa organised a 2-day capacity building workshop for committee clerks of the National Assembly on effective and gender-responsive budgeting.
This is in recognition of the roles of the Clerks as the institutional memory of the legislature and their central responsibility in reviewing and authorising budget decisions of Ministries, Department and Agencies and importantly, holding government to account. The workshop facilitated discussion on budget trends analysis from a gender perspective and discussed entry points for better planning and oversight for women and girls in the budgets of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The workshop was held under the Upscaling the Spotlight Initiative and it brought together sixty clerks of the National Assembly with the goal of improving the skills necessary for the passage, monitoring, implementation and oversight of the budget from a gender perspective.
Speaking at the workshop, the Coordinator, Yiaga Africa Centre for Legislative Engagement, Dr. Ernest Ereke called on Committee Clerks to improve budget appropriation for issues against discrimination and violence against women and girls to ensure an elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in Nigeria. According to Dr. Ereke, ‘‘Clerks are the engine-house of the legislature, and that is why it is important to build their capacity on this issue. It is highly imperative that the 2022 budget is drafted from a gender perspective.’’
While facilitating the session on understanding gender-responsive budgeting, Dr Terfa Abraham, from the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies reiterated the power of the clerks to prompt MDAs to amend their budgets if they were not gender-responsive.
“During the budget defence, clerks play a critical role in forming the question and answer section between the MDAs and the members of assembly. The clerks can raise important questions that can make MDAs sit up to provide those answers that are critical in providing for those projects,” he stated.
He added that clerks play important roles in the bureaucracy and management of NASS affairs, and thus they must ensure that their input reflects what is expected by the gender policy of the government.
In his goodwill message on behalf of the Clerks of the Senate, Muhammed Sani Abdullahi applauded the Spotlight Initiative for a timely workshop ahead of the 2022 appropriation bill. He reiterated that as fathers, husbands and brothers, everyone present was saddled with the responsibility of contributing to gender-based initiatives in order to support all women and girls.
Reiterating the importance of inclusion in budgeting, Chinedu Akubueze who spoke on behalf of the Clerks of the House of Representatives, noted that gender budgeting was not only about women, but also for persons with disabilities, and every marginalised group, such as young people, women and girls.
‘‘Overall, we are ensuring that the budget is used as a tool of achieving inclusive development for all,’’ he said.
In her remarks on Upscaling the Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria, Yiaga Africa Program Manager, Yetunde Bakare noted that clerks must all intentionally engender projects. She also suggested that religious centres and faith-based organisations must have programmes and projects that deliberately cater for such vulnerable groups as girls, women, young people and persons with disabilities.
“Otherwise, these sets of people that account for 50% of our Nigerian population are not catered for, and as such the future of our children cannot be guaranteed,’’ she said.
The Spotlight Initiative in Nigeria is funded by the European Union and the United Nations, and aims to support a Nigeria where the most vulnerable, particularly women and girls, live a life free from violence and harmful practices. This is achieved by addressing the linkages between sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices.