By Jordan Simeon-Phiri, MEC Stringer
Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Karonga District and government officials have been challenged to economically empower women through formulation of budgets that are gender responsive if the country is to develop at district levels.
Justice and Peace (JP) of Karonga Diocese made the call Friday at an engagement meeting at Thunduzi at Uliwa in the lakeshore district aimed at lobbying CSOs and Karonga District Council to have budgets that are gender inclusive.
Speaking at the one-day event, JP’s project officer for women empowerment program (WEP) Vincent Bwinga said his organization recognizes the huge responsibility that councils play through district development plans (DDPs) in terms of planning and budgeting to achieve social economic development of the district.
He said this is why JP decided to engage these two key players since their activities cannot be implemented without budgets.
“We decided to call for this meeting to engage the local councils and CSOs to lobby for inclusion of gender planning and budgeting at district level so that we deal with gender issue with a holistic approach,” Bwinga said.
“And again we would want to reflect on availability of district plans and budgets if they are gender sensitive.”
Bwinga added that the meeting provided a platform for all stakeholders to go through the budget that acting director of finance (DOF) at Karonga District Council presented during the meeting and left his office satisfied.
Speaking on behalf of Karonga DC Richard Hara, acting director of planning and development (DPD) Isaac Mkandawire said his office has a lot of developmental activities that are of mutual benefit to women.
“We know how vital women are in terms of social economic development. This is why we strive to make an inclusive budget that sees to it that women are covered because most of the times it is them who are the most affected people if they are not considered,” Mkandawire said.
He gave examples of the K60 million from DDP that will go to drilling of boreholes in the five constituencies and the construction of Pusi market shelter as that will reduce distances women cover in search of portable water.
Karonga District gender officer Martha Kalumbi hailed JP for taking gender inclusive budget campaign head on, saying it is a cross cutting issue.
“So we are always grateful when we see organizations bringing key stakeholders together to brainstorm on how they can make it a reality,” she said. “As an office at district level we will work hand in hand with all players to make sure that we achieve this.
JP of Karonga Diocese is implementing WEP with funding from UN Women. The meeting drew together 10 CSOs and government officials.