Strengthening Women and Girls’ Participation and Influence in Governance Processes to Address Gender-Based Violence in Rwanda
Citizens’ satisfaction in their participation in preparation of District plans and budgets has increased in the last 3 years from 27% (RGS 2016) to 53.6% (RGS 2019) ; this is because of created and expanded spaces for dialogue between citizens and local leaders.
This indicator however, is among the least performing, under the participation and inclusiveness docket according to Rwanda Governance Scorecard findings. More so, women participation in governance, particularly in local planning and budgeting processes is still lagging behind compared to men, due to a number of socio-economic and cultural factors.
Evidence from Every Voice Counts project implemented in partnership between Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe (PFTH) and CARE International in five Districts of the Southern Province of Rwanda highlights persisting challenges and proposes recommendations to increase participation and influence of women, girls and people with disability in planning and budgeting processes.
1. Limited time for citizens’ consultations in planning
Analysis of the first 2020/2021 Planning and Budgeting Call Circular (PBCC) carried out by PFTH indicates that only one-month period (October through November) is provided to institutions to identify priorities, set targets from Village to District, consult various groups of citizens and submit plans to the Ministry of Finance. This not only limits the level of extensive consultations required from all categories of people taking into consideration various concerns and needs of women, girls and people with disability, but it also has implications on the quality of plans and budgets that Districts submit.
Consultations with women, girls and people with disability in the Southern Province recommend to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to provide enough time to local government entities for wider pre-consultations during the planning period starting in July prior to the release for the first PBCC in October. .
2. Adequacy of existing spaces and mechanisms for citizens’ consultation and feedback
The PBCC guidelines indicate that there are different fora for citizens’ engagement including the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) outreach programmes like Umuganda, community assemblies, Umugoroba w’Ababyeyi among others. In addition, annexes 3, 4, and 5a of the guidelines indicate the need for local instances to collect citizens’ views and provide timely feedback on planning and budgeting matters. Various consultations and analysisi however show that given the nature of these forums, they often fail to adjust to the procedural nature of Imihigo or that citizens’ participation is often limited to the implementation phase of Imihigo, as opposed to the planning phase.
Findings from the recently concluded assessment on social inclusion by PFTH and CARE revealed that community assemblies (Inteko z’Abaturage) are viewed as mostly suitable for community members to contribute to local planning and budgeting processes. The 2019 Citizens Report card confirmed the same finding where 81% of citizens report satisfaction in participating in the assemblies.
We recognise the vital role that various community mechanisms play in engaging different groups of citizens in their diversities, however given the nature of each forum and its intended outcomes, practical ways in ensuring participatory planning should be devised where one main forum for a specific period is dedicated to consultations, while others can supplement in mobilization and sensitization.
Inteko z’Abaturage are recommended as the appropriate channel to use for citizens’ consultations during the planning period ; as these are held frequentlyii and provide a space for citizens to interact with local leaders and hold them to account. Other factors such as days when these assemblies take place can also be adapted taking into consideration contexts, for instance urban settings.
3. Gaps in gender mainstreaming in planning and budgeting processes
Mainstreaming gender in planning and budgeting is mandatory in PBCC. The 2020/2021 guidelines highlight the need for Districts and Line Ministries to consider sex disaggregated targets while planning. Furthermore, gender skills and expertise is a prerequisite to better position gender accountability in institutional planning, monitoring and reporting frameworks (Gender Monitoring Office Annual Report, 2018).
However, there are still limited capacities of responsible entities in mainstreaming gender in planning and budgeting, which then impedes the integration of women, girls and people with disability needs and concerns in District plans and resource allocation. For instance in FY 2017/18 only 0.57% of sampled districts budgets in the
Southern Province was allocated to finance gender, anti-GBV interventions and other women and girls priorities.
Responsible institutions, namely MIGEPROF and GMO should work with Line Ministries and Districts in consistently setting gender-related priorities during pre-consultation phases using platforms such as the National Gender and Family Cluster, as well as set gender and sex disaggregated indicators in respective annual plans ; in addition lobby for the allocation of sufficient resources from central government budget to these priorities, including capacity building of District staff on gender and planning.
As the authority mandated to monitor gender and anti-GBV related interventions, the GMO should increase efforts in supporting Districts to establish gender friendly monitoring, reporting and evaluation frameworks with well-set and measurable gender indicators.
i Never Again Rwanda (June 2018). Local Government Imihigo Process : Understanding the Factors Contributing to Low Citizens Participation.
ii Twice a week as per the new directive by the Ministry of Local Government dated 12th December 2019.