By Commissioner George W. Howe, Jr.
Protocol: All Protocols Observed.
Today, as we commence the Training of Trainers Workshop on Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting, let us reflect briefly on the concept of “Gender Mainstreaming” in development planning. Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting is an integral part of mainstreaming gender issues in national development planning and to coordinate policy efforts for the full integration of marginalized groups, particularly women and youth, to participate in the economic, social, and political activities in Liberia. The inclusion of marginalized groups into our governance system can only be achieved when we prioritize the mainstreaming of their concerns and perspectives in all national policies and programs.
Historically, the promotion of good governance has been Liberia’s real development challenge. Poor governance has occasioned poverty, conflicts, corruption, and underdevelopment in the country. However, cultural and traditional practices in Liberia continue to sustain gender inequality with the cultural perceptions that women are subordinate to men. These practices and misperceptions are pronounced in both public and private institutions and have resulted in persistent unfair treatment of women and other marginalized groups in the workplace. This is unacceptable and must be reversed. In this regard, I am totally convinced that this all important workshop marks the beginning of the transformation of our social and economic policies focusing on gender mainstreaming to promote accountability and transparency in national development planning and programs.
Furthermore, Chapter Six of the Local Government Act of 2018 is devoted to gender mainstreaming in local governments. Meanwhile, I wish to draw your attention to key provisions of Chapter Six of the Act regarding gender mainstreaming in local governments.
It says, “Local governments shall take proactive measures to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment at all levels and in all areas of local government administration. The principles to guide integration of a gender perspective in local government shall include the following:
- Participation: promoting equal access to participation of women and men in decision-making;
- Representation: promoting equal access of women, men, minorities and people with disabilities in recruitment, established committees, and local government service;
- Protection: protecting the equal rights of women and girls and enhancing their security from gender-based violence; and
- Capacity-development: designing and implementing gender-sensitive policies and programs that enhance the capacity of men, women, children and people with disabilities to have equal access to decision-making, local government leadership, work and other opportunities.”
Also, gender mainstreaming in development planning can help reverse discrimination by identifying and rectifying discriminatory practices within both public and private institutions. This Training of Trainers Workshop on Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting is a clear manifestation that the government of Liberia is committed to promoting transparency and accountability in the governance process of our country.
Fellow participants, as you receive the training in Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting, it is incumbent upon you to share the knowledge you will acquire from this workshop specifically by ensuring that:
- The physically challenged have access to participation in local government decision-making and to user-friendly, physical infrastructures;
- The physically challenged have equal access to employment and social services being provided the people;
- Local government programs are children-friendly and responsive to the needs of orphans and abandoned children;
- Local government programs take into account the needs of the elderly in local communities; and
- Local government health services programs attend to the needs of persons mentally challenged.
In this regard, I am particularly pleased that such an important workshop is being held in Gompa City, Nimba County, to understand the concept of Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting in Local Governments. Meanwhile, we at the Governance Commission are particularly pleased to collaborate with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and partners for this Training of Trainers Workshop on Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting. We are also grateful to our donor partners for their continued support to the government of Liberia.
Finally, let me also express my deep gratitude to all the participants here present and the peace-loving people of Nimba County for hosting this very important workshop. Once again, let me remind us that Gender Responsive Planning and Budgeting is an integral part of mainstreaming gender issues in national development planning for the full integration of marginalized groups, particularly women and youth, to participate in the economic, social, and political activities in Liberia.