Advocacy for Gender Responsive National Budget: Focusing in Information, Science and IT Sector for the 2012-13 fiscal
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MAY 24, 2012  | MORE NEWS

Rokeya Kabir, the moderator of the sharing meeting introducing the event. On her right, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, Honorable State Minister of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh.


For the national budget 2012-13, BNPS advocacy to make it gender responsive emphasizes on Information, Science and Information Technology Sector. This is largely to keep pace with the theme of International Women’s Day 2011: Equal access to education, training and science and technology. And also to be suggestive to implement government’s preferences for women’s participation in education, training, science and technology reflected in several policies and manifestos including National Women Development Policy 2011, Digital Bangladesh and Vision 2021.

Last three year’s budget of relevant two Ministries, Ministry of Information and Ministry of Science and Information Technology was examined from gender perspective in terms of allocating enough resources for achieving the gender goals spelled out in the policy documents and how much of it is actually spent for the results before drawing 19-points recommendations for upcoming budget 2012-13. Field research at grassroots level was conducted to get picture of affect of this allocation at target beneficiaries ends. The study findings and recommendations were shared in a press conference followed by a national seminar on May 21 and 24, 2012 respectively.

The study revealed a gross mismatch between the allocation and implementation of budget for women in these ministries. Most of the women including entrepreneurs are not getting advantages of information technologies despite their needs for information. They could be informed about market assessment, profitability and new opportunities through information technology and media. But scarcity and inactivity of information centers, lack of skills in using IT, language barriers, interruption of power supply and ignorance on this services deprive them of being benefited. Programmes in current fiscal budget like basic IT skill transfer up to Upazila level and fellowship on SICT not reserve quota for women thus benefiting the men compared to women. Besides, there are more than 160 e-community centers in the country aiming to build digital Bangladesh where one man and one women operator are supposed to work. But 62.5 per cent grassroots people are in ignorance on this and its service as most of the time these centers remain under lock and key.

According to the study in the years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 information ministry got 0.32 per cent, 0.37 per cent, 0.37 per cent and 0.37 per cent and science, information and information technology ministry got 0.37 per cent, 0.38 per cent and 0.37 per cent allocation of the total budget respectively. Despite policy emphasis, the rate of allocation not even reaches to 1 per cent and remained same in three years.

24 May
A part of the audience of the event

Though it was claimed in the gender budget report (GBR) prepared by the Information Ministry that only 10 per cent of the total budget will be spent for women, the same ministry in another GBR said 19 per cent of the total annual development programme budget of the ministry will be spent for women. The participation of women in the information ministry and its associate bodies was only 14.61 per cent in 2010-2011 whereas the number has slightly increased in 2011-2012.

To implement the policy commitments, 19-point demand have been drawn for more inclusion of women in science, information and IT sector in the 2012-2013 budget including: adequate budget allocation for skill development of women in science, information and IT sector, introduction of ‘cash for training on ICT’ similar to the ‘cash for education programme’, setting up of computer laboratories at rural schools and colleges for computer education of female students by appointing male and female instructors and reducing gap in education, income and technological knowledge between village and city, special programme for higher education for women on vocational and engineering, increased budget allocation for the ‘Basic IT Transfer Up to Upazila Level’ etc.

Recommendations were placed in a press conference at National Press Club on 21st May followed by a national seminar on 24th May 2012 at CIRDAP auditorium jointly with UN Women.

The press conference was addressed by BNPS executive director Rokeya Kabir, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) senior research fellow Dr Pratima Paul-Majumder, Consultant of the World Bank and eminent economist Dr Kaniz N Siddiqui, UN Women national programme manager Nahid M Ahmed and UN Women Bangladesh governance coordinator Khadiza Khandker. The 19-pont recommendation was read out by BNPS Director Omar Tarek Chowdhury. He called upon the government to widen opportunities for women so that they can avail education and training to benefit from the budgetary allocation. He also urged the government to formulate provisions making it mandatory for media houses to keep a 50 percent job quota for women.

At the national seminar titled “Steps for budget supportive to women to access in science, information and information technology”, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, honorable State Minister for Women and Children Affairs was presented at the Chief Guest. Mr. Rafiqul Islam, Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Information Technology was the special guest at the occasion. Gender economist Dr Pratima Paul-Majumder presented the key note paper while Bangladesh Mahila parishad president Ayesha Khanom, economist Dr Kaniz N Siddiqui, UN Women coordinator Nahid M Ahmed, Asst. professor of economics of Dhaka University Dr. Sayema Huq Bidisha, Institute of Informatics and Development CEO Sayed Ahmed took part in discussion as panel discussant.

In her speech the honorable State Minister raised deep concern to under-utilization of budget allocated for women in different ministries. He stressed on inventing easy to access media to disseminate information to village women.

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