Women demand gender sensitive budget

Women, who bear the brunt of poor council service Delivery, have called upon the Bulawayo City Council to come up with a gender – sensitive budget for the next financial year.

Debrah Sibanda
Debrah Sibanda

The council will this month start conducting consultation meetings with residents in the city‘s 29 wards to determine budget priorities.

A wide spectrum of women from different backgrounds who spoke to The Zimbabwean demanded that the council should prioritise issues such as reproductive health, water, roads, refuse collection and the allocation of more market stalls to women.

An elderly woman from Luveve high density suburb, Gladys Ndzombani, said a lot of women – including the elderly and young girls – were walking long distances to fetch water from unprotected sources in low lying areas such as Cowdray Park and Emakhandeni. This exposes them to various risks.

“Women in these suburbs have suffered a lot as a result of erratic water supplies. Some are travelling long distances to fetch water from other suburbs and boreholes. Council should address the plight of these people in the budget as a matter of urgency,” said Ndzombani.

The city’s next budget should also cater for the needs of the elderly and pensioners, whom she said were struggling to pay their monthly rates and other essential services as a result of the current harsh economic challenges.

Debrah Sibanda from Mpopoma said more resources should be channelled towards the empowerment of women who want to venture into informal trading.

“A lot of women these days are now sustaining their families because most breadwinners have been affected by the closure of companies in the city. Council should facilitate more market stalls and selling space for women vendors and other disadvantaged people, such as those living with disabilities. Instead of putting more resources in equipping municipal police to harass these people, council should actually support them because their activities are sustaining the city,” said Sibanda.

A resident from Waterford high density suburb, Monica Kelly, said her desire was to see the city’s roads being rehabilitated. “To me the issue of bad roads needs to be given urgent attention.

Everyone has been badly affected by the poor roads network in the city. Most areas in my ward are no longer accessible by public transport because the roads are really bad. This issue has also affected school children” said Kelly.

Bulawayo Senior Public Relations officer, Nesisa Mpofu, said despite scarce resources, the Bulawayo city council had in the past endeavoured to take into account the different roles and needs of different groups, inlcuding women, when crafting its budget.

“The council has always tried under extremely difficult circumstances to balance the interests and needs of both women and men particularly the most vulnerable and the poor. For example council this year, came up with a deliberate decision to allocate 25 gallons of free water for child-headed families and elderly households every month,” said Mpofu.

She urged the residents to pay their monthly rates on time so that the council could deliver quality service to all the residents.

Lindiwe Ngwenya, Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network programmes officer, whose organisation is promoting gender responsive budgeting, said her organisation had recently facilitated a fruitful dialogue meeting between the council and various stakeholders.

“From the consultative meetings held so far, it has emerged that there is need for the council to prioritise health, education and roads maintenance in the city. Lack of funding in these areas has been cited as the major impediment to gender equality,” said Ngwenya.

Gender sensitive budgets were critical in addressing historical imbalances that have seen women lagging behind in terms of development, she added.

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