Apply a gender perspective to the 2022 budget
It is important, more than ever, that Malaysia’s national budget presents a gender-focused response, especially in the economic recovery from Covid-19. A gender-sensitive budget is essential to ensure that gender considerations are taken into account in fiscal and expenditure decisions, and should be included in fiscal policy going forward.
For example, the Gender Budget Group (GBG), a coalition of 20 organizations calling for gender-responsive budgeting, closely followed the announcement of the 2022 budget by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on Friday.
The government presented its largest national budget to date with an allocation of RM 332.1 billion – however, the GBG is concerned about the lack of gender-focused policies and sufficient gender analyzes in various sectors and ministries. Despite extensive consultations with stakeholders, sex-disaggregated data is still needed to determine the benefits that would benefit women, children and other vulnerable groups in Malaysia.
While we appreciate the efforts of the government to address certain areas affecting women through allowances for single mothers, childcare, re-entry of women into the workforce as well as gender-based violence, it is important to note that these fall under the limited competence of certain ministries – mainly the Ministry of Women’s, Community and Family Development.
For example, targeted policies for industrial sectors and supply chains in fisheries, agriculture and manufacturing have failed to consider women in their workforce. There was also little or no emphasis on gender in budget measures for education (the largest budget of all ministries), sports and mental health, nor in improving economic opportunities. impacting women in binational families, or minimizing the lived realities and needs of women, girls and vulnerable groups.
This is disappointing because it was a good opportunity to tackle the deeply rooted inequalities that affect the well-being of women and their families and could have a positive impact on their participation in the economy. In addition, there was very little information on the implementation and impact of allocations previously made in the 2021 budget. This lack of transparency in times of urgent economic recovery leaves us concerned about the effectiveness of policies aimed at improve the well-being of all in Malaysia. .
The GBG also hopes the government will improve its superficial understanding of the gender inequality that was apparent in the visuals and language used throughout the speech. The use of stereotypical images of women and references to childcare being primarily the responsibility of the mother is a clear sign of the need for gender sensitivity and that the budgetary implications for women are not being taken into account. serious.
The pledges made in the 2022 budget must be scrutinized from a gender perspective, transparently scrutinized and monitored, and must demonstrate accountability to the public. Women represent half of the population, therefore the budgetary needs of women, families and vulnerable communities must be considered in an inclusive and transversal manner. Only then can we be sure that gender equality is truly on the fiscal policy agenda in Malaysia.
GENDER BUDGET GROUP (GBG)
The Gender Budget Group is a coalition of 20 civil society organizations and 16 academics led by Engender Consultancy and Women’s Aid Organization, who ensure that different needs are effectively addressed in the budget.