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Civil society organizations call for strengthened consultation and engagement of CSOs in setting annual priorities.

CSOs have a great role to play to ensure citizen participation especially women and girls. Therefore, for more than two years, Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe in collaboration with CARE International Rwanda are implementing project called “Every Voice Counts” (EVC) in 5 districts of southern province of Nyanza, Muhanga, Huye, Ruhango and Kamonyi. The project aims at promoting a citizen engagement and social accountability model for enhancing women participation and influence in governance processes to address gender based violence at local and National level.

Local communities comprising of various groups including women, youth and people with disabilities have been mobilized and equipped with skills to conduct community dialogues and represent issues from those groups at sector and district levels and participate actively in planning and budgeting processes. Additionally, districts have been supported to strengthen their citizen participation approaches. In the 5 districts, the project built capacity of more than 200 Community score card facilitators, trained 640 community advocacy core team and built capacities of 41 local leaders on inclusive governance.

The one day experience sharing meeting held by Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe aimed to share best practices of citizen participation in planning and budgeting, case of 5 districts in southern province with the theme “Showcasing the role of CSOs and a call for strengthened commitment and accountability for transformative gender equality”. The meeting was held on 18th December at Kigali Convention center and Radisson Blu.

The meeting was attended by over 120 people. Participants greatly appreciated the experience sharing session and expressed how EVC has strengthened their citizen participation approaches and how that has led to positive outcomes, especially the confidence gained by women to work engage with local authorities and demand accountability on issues affecting them, seeking for them to be addressed.

Overall, challenges remain including burden of care work, lack of timely information among citizens on planning process and a limited time given to citizen consultations during planning process.

After presentation of key recommendations, leaders and decision makers from districts and from various government institutions that attended the meeting including MIGEPROF,MINALOC, GMO,LODA,RGB expressed commitment to continue ensuring that gender equality is upheld at all levels and that plans nd budgets seek to address issues affecting women and girls.

“Women and girls voices matter in planning and budgeting”.