A major two-day Asian regional conference kicked off at a hotel in downtown George Town this morning to propel the integration of gender-responsive budgeting and participatory budgeting.
The conference is organised by the Penang Women’s Development Corporation, a state-funded entity set up in 2011 which aims to mainstream gender into the policies and programmes of all sectors to achieve gender equality, good governance and social justice in the state.
The event Gender Responsive Budgeting Narratives: Transforming Institutions, Empowering Communities brings together practitioners and experts from Asia and elsewhere to share and assess experiences of gender-responsive and participatory budgeting.
In Penang, the PWDC has a gender policy and advocacy programme to mainstream gender in governance in the state via a clear gender policy. And a key catalyst in this programme is the gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) project, along with capacity development and empowerment programmes.
The GRB project Different People, Different Needs aims to open up the budget process within the MPPP and MPSP and eventually the state level as well to make it more participatory and gender responsive. In this respect, a state-level Steering Group has been set up along with Working Groups within the MPPP and MPSP. The presidents of both municipal councils, Patahiyah Ismail and Maimunah Mohd Sharif, are attending the conference along with Penang state exco member for Women, Family and Community Development Chong Eng. Others present include PWDC director Aloyah Abu Bakar, Cecilia Ng and Tan Pek Leng.
Two key pilot community projects have been undertaken at low-cost housing schemes in PPR Ampangan under MPSP and PPR Jalan Sungai under MPPP under a three-year GRB pilot project. I have written about the Jalan Sungai and Ampangan projects earlier.
On the sidelines of the conference, I bumped into Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh. She mentioned that the recent floods in Kuantan were quite bad and unprecedented in their scale of devastation in recent times. Some 30000 households were hit and many of the occupants lost most of their possessions as the flood waters filled their homes. Life is hard for them now as they have to start all over again.
As for the Lynas campaign, Fuziah said the Kuantan anti-Lynas campaign members have managed to buy a small number of shares in Lynas Corp – which enables them to attend the company’s AGM and air their concerns to the other shareholders. The activists are vowing to continue their campaign, and they are monitoring the Lynas share price, which has slumped amidst difficult market conditions and teething problems.